No matter what your major is, we hope that during your time at John Cabot, you’ll develop what we consider the big three: the ability to think critically, communicate compellingly, and research thoroughly. And with mass media taking on an increasingly pervasive and influential role in our society, it’s no coincidence that we’ve identified these particular skills as essential for success – students must be able to understand, analyze, and engage with diverse forms of media in order to promote their abilities and find their professional footing.
If you’ve decided to study abroad in Italy, it’s important to understand how media works here and throughout the Mediterranean – how print, TV, radio and digital messaging both reflect and inform cultural practices.
Do Mediterranean Countries Promote Themselves on Social Media?
In many cases the answer is no, according to research from Athens University and the University of Piraeus. Many study abroad students may consider social media platforms as ubiquitous communications and marketing tools – but among the 23 countries surveyed, only five used Facebook to help brand themselves as an attractive tourist destination. Only Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, and Malta provided social media links on their official national websites.
Studies like this present compelling insight into how national identifies are configured online, and how the importance of digital sharing differs by region throughout the Mediterranean. International students in Italy are well positioned to explore these kinds of differences, test their assumptions, and broaden their understanding of how the use of media differs across geographic and cultural lines.
Politics, Privacy and Soap Operas
These were just a few of the topics discussed at John Cabot’s recent media forum, hosted by the Summer Institute in International Communications. The first of its kind, this year’s forum took place on July 9th and was titled “Media’s Impact on Local and Transnational Identity.” Featuring speakers from the academic, business, and journalism communities, themes focused on how current trends in media are influencing life and culture throughout and beyond the Mediterranean. For example, Jeff Gould, president of SafeGov Inc. and CEO at Peerstone Research discussed how behavior targeting by search engines and social networks impacts our sense of privacy online. Journalist and author, Donatella della Ratta explored the unique relationship between the Syrian regime and the country’s popular soap operas. Isabella Clough Marinaro, a professor of Italian Studies at John Cabot, looked at how the media portrays the Romani – an ethnic group that suffers discrimination and stereotyping across Europe.
Media, Education, and ESL
On July 8th, John Cabot University’s Institute in International Communications also presented a workshop called, Media Literacy for Teaching English. The workshop caps five years of John Cabot’s successful participation in the Italy Reads program – an initiative designed to get local high schoolers interested in literature and encourage cultural exchange with the university’s students.
The workshop was aimed at English teachers and explored how media literacy can provide an effective tool for the study of literature, or learning English as a second language. Within a Mediterranean context, participants learned how to analyze and understand messaging, and how media opens creative doors for language-learning, storytelling, and other creative pursuits.