The topic of the UNESCO Feature MIL Conference conference was “MIL citizens: informed, engaged, empowered”. As usual, the topic covered a wide range of issues related to MIL policies, practices and pedagogies, participants being policymakers, media educators, and researchers. The conference was arranged by Kultur i väst, the cultural authorities of the Gothenburg region. Almost 400 participants from 55 countries gathered to the Gothia Towers conference centre. The annual Gothenburg Book Fair was taking place in the same building. You can access the programme here.
The opening ceremony included the announcement of the GAPMIL Global Media and Literacy Awards 2019. The awardees were UNICEF Montenegro, the American media education consultant Frank Baker, the Russian professor Alexander Fedorov, the bilingual journal (Spanish-English) Revista Comunicar, the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation PYALARA and the British news literacy project Newswise.
The keynote speech was given by Prof. Ulla Carlsson (the founding director of Nordicom), who was introduced as “not just a person but an institution”. Indeed, being active since the 1970s, Ulla has introduced the concept of MIL to the Swedish context, with a global impact. She was awarded the Swedish UNESCO prize for her efforts. In conjunction to the event, the anthology “Understanding Media and Information Literacy (MIL) in the Digital Age: A Question of Democracy” was released. It is a follow-up of an earlier report published in Swedish, now featuring essays in English. In her keynote speech, Ulla Carlsson emphasized the need to increase the promotion of critical knowledge of how media and technologies work and highlighted the complexity of the issue. She encouraged societies to take a holistic and integrative approach to MIL: understandings of MIL should be based on a broad scientific basis and be turned into a national policy that is part of a wider entity. Nowadays MIL education is often offered as a solution to all problems. However, MIL alone cannot solve all the problems – it is a long-term benefit, not a short term solution.