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Global Media, War, and Technology

University of Queensland via edX

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Overview

The experience of war has changed fundamentally – not only for those fighting and reporting, but also for those on the home front. High-tech nations wage wars from a distance using satellite-guided weaponry while non-state military actors, terrorist organizations, and citizen journalists have increasingly added new voices and visual perspectives to the conversation about conflict.

The ubiquity of smartphones, internet access, and social media transports the experience and complexity of war directly into our lives. Cyberspace offers greater freedoms and access to information at the same time as we discover a dramatic global rise of cyber espionage, internet censorship, and surveillance.

In this course, we map this emerging new terrain where violent conflict, information technology, and global media intersect and where the old distinctions between battlefront and home front, between soldier and civilian, between war and entertainment, and between public and private are being redrawn.

Considering these changes, this course engages with questions surrounding:

  • The relationship between media, information technology, and war
  • How violent conflict is presented in the media and the responsibilities of journalists during wartime
  • The effect of instantaneous, worldwide reporting on battle and the politics of conflict
  • How we can understand and critically engage with media and information technology

In order to engage with these questions, this course is taught through a number of conventional and unconventional forms of learning methods and activities. These include lecture videos, questionnaires, and discussion fora. But it also includes practical, experiential elements taught through crowdsourcing, individual research, critical viewing, media and image analysis, and surveys. Combined, these activities allow you to gain fresh and timely insights into what happens beneath the surface of the screen in front of you. They enable you to gain a deeper understanding of how the politics of today's wars play out on and behind the digital screens in our hypermediatized age.

Syllabus

Week 1: An introduction to global media and war
Introduction to the history of and context surrounding conflict in cyberspace.
 
Week 2: Transformation of the mediasphere
A look at the media revolution and its transformation from a multipolar to a heteropolar mediascape as well as an exploration of the disruptive nature of digital media.
 
Week 3: Surveillance
An analysis of the scale and scope of today’s global system of mass surveillance, of how it compares to older forms of surveillance such as the STASI, and what living under constant surveillance means for privacy and the future of democracy.
 
Week 4: Visual politics and conflict
Introduction to the role of images in conflict through an analysis of images connected to current events.
 
Week 5: Democratic states, the media and the production of clean wars
Discussion of the changing role of media as seen during the Vietnam War, the 1991 Gulf War, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
 
Week 6: The military-industrial-media-entertainment complex
Analysis of the evolution of the military-industrial complex and the growing collaboration between militaries, Hollywood film studios, and the commercial gaming sector.
 
Week 7: Non-state military actors and media
Survey of media use by non-state military actors such as Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Islamic State.

Taught by

Sebastian Kaempf , Roland Bleiker and Emma Hutchison

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