Jim MacMillan, Assistant Director of the Center for Public Interest Journalism at Temple University and Editor for the GunCrisis Reporting Project, spoke in our Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies course today about peace journalism. In the convergence journalism style for which he is known, Jim lectured from a Storify page, which we are all able to review:
A public lecture sponsored by our friends at the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility
“GunCrisis.org: Seeking Solutions to Gun Violence in Philadelphia with Digital Journalism”
Former Journalist-in-Residence for War News Radio and Manager of Media and Social Responsibility for the Lang Center, Founder, GunCrisis.org Current Assistant Director for the Center for Public Interest Journalism at Temple University
How do we address the epidemic of homicide by gunfire in America? What is the future and impact of journalism in response to epic changes in information delivery? How can social media be put to use for positive social change? On average, at least one person has been murdered in Philadelphia every day over the last 25 years, and more than three-quarters of them have been killed with a gun.
The Gun Crisis Reporting Project is a non-profit independent journalism organization intended to fill the gaps in gun violence reporting, and to help seek solutions.
Sponsored by the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility.
January 31, 2013
Professor Lee Smithey’s class, Peace Studies and Action, is partnering this semester with GunCrisis.org, which aims to provide a hard look at the gun violence situation in Philadelphia and innovative solutions to it.
“I think the College as a Philly neighbor, so to speak, can be a voice in raising concern about the epidemic of gun violence,” said Smithey, who teaches sociology and coordinates the Peace and Conflict Studies Program.
According to Smithey, the Peace Studies and Action course is designed to use peace building to bridge the gap between academic peace research and peace action.
Taught each spring semester, the course is meant to provide a service to a local organization focused on solving a social problem.
“It’s also a peace and violence problem in our backyard and in many ways we’re isolated from the gun violence in North and West Philadelphia,” he added.
Smithey said the objectives for the course would be to learn more about the program as well as understand the range of initiatives addressing gun violence in Philadelphia while situating it within peace and conflict studies literature.
Aaron Moser ’12, who interned with GunCrisis.org last summer, hopes that the class will educate students about what goes on in Philadelphia concerning gun violence.
“I hope the extra mind power and writing power of these students will allow the organization to have a wider reach to continue building a network in the city and around the country as well as to bring more attention to the gun violence in America’s urban settings and look for solutions,” he said.
The students will be writing journalistic style pieces that GunCrisis.org can post as content for its blog.
Jim MacMillan, co-founder of GunCrisis.org and Manager for Media and Social Responsibility in the Lang Center, hopes that the class will help him build a peace-oriented vertical on the site.
He hopes to encourage use of a “‘#phillypeaceplan’ hashtag to every communication on social media, so we can gather information and get an idea of what the community thinks we should do,” he said.
“There is an opportunity now to embrace the momentum across the nation to reduce gun violence and the human suffering in Philadelphia. The sooner we can expedite the process of ending this violence the fewer people will die, if somebody wants to stop the shooting we would love to work with them,” MacMillan said.
In the wake of the Newtown, CT shootings and a renewed national conversation over gun control, “Peace Studies and Action” PEAC 077 will partner this spring with GunCrisis.org, an open source reporting community developed to address the epidemic of homicide by gunfire in Philadelphia through online journalism and social media.
Peace Studies and Action aims to bridge the gaps between peace research, theory, and implementation by encouraging students to move between each as we study nonviolent ways of conducting conflict and the challenges of developing and sustaining effective peace work, like GunCrisis.org. Emphasis is placed on getting close to the experience of peacemakers and activists by reading autobiographical writings, visiting local peace organizations, and/or dialogue with invited guests. As a class, we will collaborate with GunCrisis.org to contribute to the work of the organization while developing our own research skills.
Discussion over course readings and exploration of peace studies literature will also be emphasized. This course will encourage collaboration and active participation in delivering the content of the course.
The spring semester begins on Martin Luther King day, and as on many topics, Dr. King illuminates peace studies with his vision for education:
“Education without social action is a one-sided value because it has no true power potential. Social action without education is a weak expression of pure energy. Deeds uninformed by educated thought can take false directions. When we go into action and confront our adversaries, we must be as armed with knowledge as they. Our policies should have the strength of deep analysis beneath them to be able to challenge the clever sophistries of our opponents.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr. Where Do We Go from here: Chaos or Community? (p. 155)
The class will meet on Tuesdays 1:15-4:00 in the Lang Center Seminar Room (#106).
The pre-requisite of PEAC 015 Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies has been suspended, so the course is open to all students.