Media Education, Diversity and Voice – food for thought at MES21

The Media Education Summit (MES) took place on Zoom, on 31 March and 1 April 2021, around the theme of Media Education, Diversity and Voice.  MES is convened each year by the UK’s Centre for Excellence in Media Practice (CEMP) co-hosted with a partner, who this year was the School of Media & Communication at the University of Leeds

MES brings together a global network of media educators, scholars and researchers to share research, pedagogy and innovation on all aspects of media education, media literacy and media in education. The first event was at CEMP’s host institution, Bournemouth University, and from there, the conference was co-hosted with UK partners in Birmingham, London, Liverpool and Sheffield and then taken overseas, first to Prague and then to Boston, MA; Rome, Segovia and Hong Kong, before returning to the UK for the Leeds event. 

The MES team learned a lot about the process of moving an event planned as face-to-face with registered delegates and accepted abstracts onto Zoom, as a free event. Checking the waiting room against the registration list when zoom usernames don’t match, some delegates’ accounts enabled manual movement between breakouts, whilst others didn’t; trying to cater for time zones and the inevitable ‘dipping in and out’ which a virtual event allows, offering the affordances of more engagement but on different terms. All good experiences to take forward, and we are happy to share with others setting up such activities in the coming months.   

The 2021 Summit opened with evening keynotes from Ivan Sigal – Decoding Information Networks with Narrative Analysis and Eszter Hargittai – Covid-19 Knowledge Gap, before the full day began with a critical discussion on the conference theme between Mita Lad, Summit discussant and chair of the Meccsa Race, Ethnicity and Postcolonial Network, Ahmet Atay and Brian Copper; a screening and discussion of Industry Voices with Beth Johnson, keynotes from Sam Fray – Diversity and Voice in PracticeKate Pahl and Steven Pool – Empowering Youth Co-Production and the event concluded with Stephen Coleman and Bethany Hillan on voice as ubiquitous communication media. Mita closed proceedings with a critical response to the event.  

The MES breakout panels enabled over 100 members of the global media education community to share research and practice and Yonty Friesem hosted the Media Education Futures strand, featuring panels on Media Education and Race; Remote Engagement in Higher Education; News, Media and Information Literacy and Educational Media. The work shared in the MEF strand will be published in a collection by Routledge Research in Media Literacy & Education.  

All the keynotes, the Meccsa panel and recordings from the MEF strand are accessible via the CEMP site and live responses were at #MESLeeds21

The next MES will be a partnership between CEMP, Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and the Marshall McLuhan Foundation. It is way too early to predict whether that will be face-to-face, hybrid or fully virtual, so watch this space.


Julian McDougall

Head of the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice (CEMP)