Klein College of Media and Communication associate professor Sherri Hope Culver was recently elected vice chair of the international steering committee for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Global Alliance on Partnerships for Media and Information Literacy (UNESCO GAPMIL). As the director of Temple University's Center of Media and Information Literacy (CMIL), which is designated as a 'global chair' in media and information literacy by UNESCO, Culver is well-versed in media and information literacy and wants to foster a campus community that makes those skills a priority.
Culver was introduced to GAPMIL through her involvement in CMIL, where she has served as director since 2011. CMIL is a hub for education and professional development in media and information literacy that serves students, scholars and communities locally and abroad. Many of the center's projects so far have focused on children's media, Culver's primary research interest.
"The center's goal is to really do research and other projects that are related to media literacy in any way. So sometimes that involves projects with educators outside of here, sometimes it's projects with parents, sometimes it's talking with kids directly," she says.
Culver has balanced her role as a professor with facilitating CMIL programs, such as a children's media symposium for students and a study away program in Los Angeles for students interested in children's media. Although the center does not exclusively focus on children's media, she believes that emphasizing the importance of media literacy is essential for young people.
"If the goal is for everyone to be media literate, the time to make that happen and to start that is when kids are at the youngest possible ages and not wait until they're in college or beyond," she says.
UNESCO launched GAPMIL in 2013 as an effort to welcome organizations interested in learning more about media and information literacy. In her role as the first elected vice chair of GAPMIL (the previous committee members were appointed), Culver expects to work collaboratively with the other members of the international steering committee to help make media and information literacy a foremost concern for communities worldwide. In addition to implementing new strategies for GAPMIL, she will also work with the international steering committee to plan events and conferences.
In the meantime, Culver looks forward to working on more programming for CMIL. She hopes to develop a practicum for undergraduate students to conduct research and collect data on media and information literacy and wants Temple faculty to use the center as a home for their research and projects. She champions media and information literacy outside of CMIL by working as a consultant with children's media companies and producing and hosting the podcast Kids Talk Media and the Temple University Television talk show Media Inside Out.