New York-based NGO, Media Impact is pleased to announce the launch of its Entertainment-Education Fellows program. This program, established in association with the Social Justice Initiative (SJI), Department of Communication, University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), is designed to provide communications students in the United States hands on experience while assisting in the development and implementation of Entertainment-Education programs in communities around the world. Entertainment-Education (E-E) is the incorporation of critical social messaging into entertaining media formats that simultaneously educate and amuse audiences.
In May, 2011, Hilary Trudell, a Master’s student at the Clinton School of Public Service (CSPS) at the University of Arkansas, became the program’s third official fellow, following in the footsteps of CSPC students, Judy Watts and Sarah Leer. Trudell is spending the summer integrating a school-based curriculum into the 12-country My Island-My Community program, scheduled to launch across the Caribbean this summer, as part of her summer International Public Service Projects (IPSP). She was officially inducted in a ceremony in New York on May 10, 2011.
Media Impact broached the idea of the E-E Fellows program with E-E scholar and professor, Arvind Singhal, who directs UTEP’s SJI, is appointed as William J. Clinton Distinguished Fellow at CSPS, and is a Media Impact Board Member. The E-E fellows program began last summer with two other CSPS students, Sarah Leer and Judy Watts, who spent ten weeks in St. Lucia assisting with the development of a theater component and program evaluation plan for the initial stages of the My Island-My Community program.
My Island – My Community was launched by more than 30 regional and national partners, including PCI-Media Impact, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, GEF SGP, implemented by UNDP, USAID and The Nature Conservancy in 2010. This regional initiative will employ a multi-pronged communication approach – regional radio serial drama, national talk shows and local My Community Campaigns – to mobilize communities around the Caribbean to improve community-based adaptation to climate change, biodiversity conservation, population, social and health priorities.
Last summer, an initial two-week regional workshop and the ten week service project provided Sarah and Judy the opportunity to apply E-E, social change communications to on-the-ground programs effecting wide-spread social change. For Judy, the project reinvigorated her belief that “It’s not just the great stories that entertain us…we learn a lot about ourselves as well. Great story tellers offer us the freedom to think about concepts and norms and allow us to rewrite our own norms.”
In addition to enjoying their summer in the Caribbean, Sarah and Judy learned valuable lessons about their future work in public service. Sarah summarized their learning concisely in her reflection for other students: “Do what you can, serve while you can, but know that you can only do so much. Take your knowledge of Year One in the Clinton School and put it into practice, the best you know how. Then take the local knowledge and let it revise, sharpen, and improve your knowledge.”
For 25 years, Media Impact has trained partners around the world to use Entertainment-Education to address critical social and environmental issues in their communities. Entertainment-Education (E-E) incorporates vital information into entertaining media programs to simultaneously educate and amuse audiences. The non-profit organization has helped produce more than 100 such programs to address critical health and environmental issues and empower communities.