Classroom Caffeine

A Conversation with Antonio Lopez

March 29, 2022 Lindsay Persohn Season 2 Episode 23
Classroom Caffeine
A Conversation with Antonio Lopez
Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Antonio López talks to us about ecomedia literacies, the materiality of information, and starting the conversation to name the world and our impacts on it. Antonio is known for his work bridging ecojustice and media literacy. As a producer of dozens of youth media projects, he has collaborated with the MacArthur Foundation, National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, Praxis Project, and National Rural Health Organization. He has also appeared on news outlets like NPR and BBC as an expert on the topic of “fake news.” Dr. Lopez has written many articles and book chapters and has written four books. Most recently, he published Ecomedia Literacy: Integrating Ecology into Media Education with Routledge. Dr. Lopez is Associate Professor and Chair of Communications and Media Studies at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy. You can learn more about his work and connect with Antonio at https://antonio-lopez.com.

To cite this episode:
Persohn, L. (Host). (2022, Mar 29). A conversation with Antonio Lopez. (Season 2, No. 23) [Audio podcast episode]. In Classroom Caffeine Podcast series. https://www.classroomcaffeine.com/guests. DOI: 10.5240/8FC6-6AA6-E8AD-1140-C23D-Z

Lindsay Persohn:

Education Research has a problem. The work of brilliant education researchers often doesn't reach the practice of brilliant teachers. But the questions and challenges from teachers practice sometimes don't become the work of education researchers. Classroom caffeine is here to help. In a new episode every other week, I talk with an education researcher or a classroom teacher about what they have learned from their work in education, and what questions they still pursue. In this episode, Dr. Antonio Lopez talks to us about Ecomedia Literacies the materiality of information and starting the conversation to name the world and our impacts on it. Antonia was known for his work bridging Ecojustice and Media Literacy. As a producer of dozens of youth media projects. he has collaborated with the MacArthur Foundation, the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, Praxis Project, and National Rural Health Organization. He has also appeared on news outlets like NPR and BBC as an expert on the topic of fake news. Dr. Lopez has written many articles and book chapters and has written four books. Most recently, he published Ecomedia Literacy Integrating Ecology into Media Education. Dr. Lopez is an Associate Professor and the chair of Communications and Media Studies at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy. You can learn more about his work and connect with Antonio @ antonio-lopez.com. For more information about our guests, stay tuned to the end of this episode. So pour a cup of your favorite morning drink. And join me your host, Lindsay Persohn. For classroom caffeine research to energize your teaching practice. Antonio, thank you for joining me. Welcome to the show.

Antonio Lopez:

Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.

Lindsay Persohn:

From your own experiences and education. Will you share with us one or two moments that inform your thinking now?

Antonio Lopez:

Sure, I thought I would share a story that sort of frames my perspective. It's not necessarily something that happened in the classroom, but it reflects a larger problem that I've been trying to deal with over the last, I would say 20 years of my research in my work. So some of your listeners might be familiar with Jerry Mander, he was better known in the 1970s. He wrote a book called Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. And he was kind of a well known Neo Luddite, anti nuclear activist, but also anti media activists. And I was familiar with his work, and I always admired him. And I, about 20 years ago, I was attending a conference called the Bioneers. That's what a 'b', I don't, most people haven't heard of it. But it's like a progressive cutting edge Think Tank about ecological thinking. And they have books about eco pedagogy. And they're, they're very forward and out there. But also, you know, pretty well grounded in everyday problems. And they have a conference every year in Mendocino County. And it's quite well known in circles of people who do environmental activism. So I had gone out there, and he had just co edited a book on globalization, I think it was called the anti globalization reader. And I was quite inspired by the the panel in the discussion. And at the time, I was also working in media literacy education in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is where I was living at the time. And a lot of media literacy was focused on tobacco and alcohol prevention, more sort of health oriented. And I was always involved and interested in environmental issues, but I had not quite found a niche in media literacy that sort of fit that point of view. So at the Bioneers, I was quite inspired by this presentation. And I thought, Wow, you could really talk about globalization in a media literacy context, because so much of globalization is actually promoted through the media, especially in advertising. So after the panel, I went up to Jerry Mander, and I mentioned to him that I was interested in possibly talking to him about ways that media literacy could work with this movement of organizing around globalization issues. So he agreed to meet with me, and so the next day, at the appointed time, he was there, and we sat down, and I pitched my idea. And he looked at me and he said, I think media literacy is a good idea, but I'm against it. And I was a little taken aback, and I just wasn't sure why he would say that. So I asked him to clarify for me, why are you against media literacy? They said, well, because media literacy makes media more interesting. And I don't want media to be more interesting. And I mean, there is a point, which I agree with that is media literacy does make you interested. But that's why we do it because we want people to be interested in what they're engaged with and actively interested. So I understand from this sort of anti television, anti media point of view, why he wouldn't want people to engage media. But that story reminds me of the tension that that existed between environmentalists, and media people. And there was no real middle ground. So the people doing environmental education, environmental activism, tended to associate media with technology and technologies associated with environmental destruction. And so they sort of assumed that all media is bad, and therefore we should just not engage it. Whereas on the other end of the spectrum, with media literacy, people, they don't engage the environment at all. And, you know, after I went to graduate school and worked on my PhD to sort of understand this problem, that was really one of the core issues that I was researching. When I did my dissertation, I wanted to really understand why is it that immediate literacy, but more generally, in film studies and Media Studies, which has a strong very strong influence on media literacy? Why is there so little or no engagement with the environment? So I think what I came away with that is a, I have a couple of theories. One is that media education tends to be very much in the paradigm of modernity and technological progress, it tends to be very pro progress in the sense that in a, I mean, there's some truth to this, but that media technologies that are coming out can be very positive and the roles that they can it democratic participation, the ability for people to express themselves creatively, I'm all for that, I believe, I believe in all these things. But I think also, within the paradigm of modernity, there's also kind of a lack of awareness or understanding of the impact of technologies on the environment. And I think that even goes back further, philosophically, in sort of, in the Western tradition, at the beginning of the scientific and technological revolutions, or the enlightenment, where nature and man was sort of, sorry, I mean, man, literally, because they were only talking about a man, man were separated from nature, along with indigenous and black people, and women, and the environment itself, those things were considered to be not civilization. And so those things were excluded from any kind of awareness or understanding of the impact of the progress of modernity, the progress of science, the progress of technology. So I think media studies inherited this kind of this bias without even being aware of it. So I was dealing with this, these two spectrums. And then the second example I gave is related to actual teaching experience, which was that I used to work a lot with Native Americans. And when I was in New Mexico, I did media literacy work at the Santa Fe Indian School, which was a Native American boarding school. And a lot of the projects that I was working on with the tribes and with the students were environmental remediation projects, where we were doing a lot of media documentation. And the experience of that was so radically different than my Western upbringing. And working with the elders of the tribe, and trying to be very culturally sensitive to that environment, really taught me how biased My field is, and how biased my perspective of technology is. Just to give an example, you know, we would be out in the forest. And we would be documenting some of the work we were doing out there. And the elders that say, you can't point the camera at that rock. And it didn't make sense to me as a Western person, like, Well, why not? Why can't I film a rock, but from their point of view, that rock is sacred, and it's as its own rights to itself and has right to not be documented not to be captured. And then it has its own integrity, it shouldn't violate that integrity. And they would do that all the time. Don't feel that mountain don't film those trees. So in trying to process that and try to understand what was going on there, I really had to do a deep dive into my own epistemology in my own understanding of my cosmology, really, what I believe is valid in terms of knowledge, what I believe is valid in terms of awareness and rights and ethics. And was one last quick story. So when I was in graduate school, and I was sort of exploring, maybe getting a anthropology PhD, I had a class with at the new school with a pretty famous anthropologist, and he was telling a story about this. In Guatemala, there was a Mayan telling a story about how he was talking to a bird. And the anthropologist said, Well, of course, he wasn't talking to a bird, after having spent so much time working in native with Native communities, they talk to animals all the time, and I don't question that. So I kind of felt like that kind of assumption and that bias was very ethnocentric. So I've really tried to when I approached media literacy, especially in the realm of ecology, try to address and try to develop an awareness of the how ethnocentric our certain intellectual traditions are, and try to break that down a bit.

Lindsay Persohn:

And Tony, what what I hear you describing is a really deep issue that I think largely goes unaddressed, right. I mean, you, you trace this all the way back to the beginning of mankind and our first interactions with the environment. But as you're describing this, particularly media literacies, I'm a former school librarian and a former coordinator of school libraries for a pretty large district. And I remember this was always a problem for us, because media literacy seems to be one of those things where schools tend to assume that this is happening at home. And at home, they tend to assume that schools are addressing it. So it sort of becomes an issue that nobody is, is really working hard at particularly not in schools. And then when we couple that with environmental awareness, and eco literacies, again, I think we're talking about a really, really deep problem that not enough people are really thinking about. So I thank you so much for finding this, this niche and your work. And I'm hoping that you will also help us to think about how we can bring some of those ideas to the forefront and addressing this next question. So what do you want listeners to know about your work?

Antonio Lopez:

Kind of as a follow up to what you were just saying? So media literacy, has had difficulty reaching into schools and into libraries, because it's kind of outside the traditional structure of education. And in the media literacy movement, there's sort of been two, what I categorize as sort of two large groupings. One, I call it the educationalists, these are the people trying to work within traditional educational standards, and try to work directly with schools. And then the activists, which are people that work in after school programs and do alternative media centers, and usually have some sort of political perspective. And one of the things I've noticed is that the educationalist which represents sort of the mainstream of media literacy, very much want to be recognized as a legitimate field. And there, there's been a moment since the 2016, presidential election in the US where, because of the proliferation of fake news, it kind of became like media literacy moment, because everyone wanted us to fix this problem. And say, Well, you guys are the experts in media literacy and information literacy, News Literacy. How do we solve this? So all of a sudden, we entered into the mainstream, but that has some hazards because especially for the kind of work I do, because I'm very much interested in addressing climate problems and climate issues. And unfortunately, United States climate has become so politicized, that you can't treat it from as just a purely scientific issue, and then a political problem of how do you address climate change? instead, it's become very contentious and very much aligned with ideology. And it doesn't matter what scientific evidence there is, what you believe about climate change more has to do with what are your ideological position within the polarization of society. And then related to that, the proliferation of disinformation produced by the oil companies, and I would argue they were the original producers of fake news, although I mean, I think fake news really is badly defined. And we could talk about a different ways but in terms of spreading of disinformation, misinformation, they it's they really pioneered it. So the thing that I would say to people who work in this area of media literacy, is that it's actually not that difficult to bring in an environmental perspective, you just take the skills that you've developed if you are like an information literacy specialist, or literacy specialists, but then adapt a perspective where you're going to focus on particular, like climate change or environment as the main subject matter of your analysis. But with the caveat that we need to expand the way we normally approach literacy. And this goes back to the thing I was talking about before, related to Western intellectual philosophical tradition, tend to focus on media as something that is about speech or about images, but not about physical things. There's a lack of awareness of the materiality or the physicality of our gadgets in our media systems, or the infrastructure of our media, which is pipelines and satellites. And you know, there's a concrete bunkers and all these things that make it possible for us to I think there's a this belief that information is just floating in the air that it's in material, and that again, is related to this philosophical heritage of the Western tradition where our thoughts are separate from our bodies, you know, since we can't touch your thoughts, therefore they must not exist physically. So when I introduce eco media literacy, what I'm asking people to do is to expand their awareness, to still look at speech and text and images, and analyze those, but then extend that analysis and bring in the perspective of the materiality of the the medium. I mean, McLuhan started to talk about that. But you know, the materiality of paper, the materiality of the phone, or the TV screen, or the radio, whatever, you know, type of medium people are working with. And then also to recognize that our bodies are also a part of the environment, we are being affected by sounds by by light in that media is sensory experience. But there is also electromagnetic energy and pollution coming from our devices. So we have to bring in sort of I have these four perspectives that I bring in one is culture, the other one is political economy. The third is materiality. And the fourth is life world. And the life world relates to the phenomenological experience. And so if you combine all those, then you have a much more holistic approach.

Lindsay Persohn:

Yeah, again, I think we're talking about some really, really deep stuff here. And I do think that there is a place for this kind of thinking in schools. And as you highlighted, there are ways to bring these two ideas together in very real ways, I think in these material kinds of ways into classrooms and enter school libraries.

Antonio Lopez:

Now, and, you know, you can phrase these differently. So I use the more generic terms because people are, know those terms. But if you drill down and want to use the terminology of the field that I'm working with, I would say eco culture, which is the recognition that culture is always embedded in the ecology of our life experience. And then political ecology, which always looks at its like political economy, but with the ecological perspective added to that, and an eco materiality, which is the ecological impacts of the materiality of our gadgets, and then the life world would be our phenomenological experience of the world,

Lindsay Persohn:

I'm actually making quite a few connections to my yoga practice, believe it or not, through this conversation, because it really does remind me how connected we all are, and how the choices we make, and the way we see ourselves in the world. And the way we present to others in the world is all related to our literacies, and also to our environments. And as you pointed out earlier, I think in Western philosophy, we don't quite get there, we never really get to those connections and understanding that we are not, you know, sort of just things that move around on top of this planet. But in fact, we are part of the world and we are part of the environment that we live in. And, you know, it makes me think that if, if this were an idea that was a little bit more present in schools, I mean, I see that helping with all kinds of social challenges that we see in schools, right, because we understand that what I do impacts what other people do, my actions, my choices, you know, we have this, the butterfly effect, right, everything we do has something to do with someone else and the world we live in. And I think that if we had this idea more at the forefront of our thinking and of our culture of our school culture, I think we would have a much more caring world, I think we would have a much more connected world. And I think we might begin to think about the effect that our choices have on not only our immediate environment, but also generations to come. And of course, that's also linked to the indigenous ideas that you were thinking about, you know, seven generations out, how are my choices going to impact seven generations from now? So I think we could be a lot closer to addressing this really deep problem than maybe I initially thought we were, you know, because it does feel like it's far removed from what we do in schools. But I think it's, it's just right there if we just found a way to bring these conversations to our students so that they could begin thinking in these ways about how we are all connected, and how are our choices, impact people we may never meet? But I think that's really important. And I like I said, I think we're closer than I initially thought we were to getting some of that.

Antonio Lopez:

Well, I think that one of the issues related to this is how can we get people to start making these connections? Because, for example, there was a lot of solidarity around Black Lives Matter and social justice over the past two years, which was very important. And there were media literacy journals devoted to that and people coming out with statements and it doesn't take too much to go just extend that a little bit further and recognize if you're advocating for social justice. Well, what about the social justice of the production chain of our gadgets? In the fact that, you know, our technologies that we use on an everyday basis, are made by highly exploited labor in a very toxic conditions in Central Africa through the extraction of minerals, and energy, and then exploited labor in China. And then the E waste, and the way that E waste is shipped around the world, and especially in countries like Ghana, where you have, you know, young people who should be in college working in these dumps, burning, you know, wires, so they could extract the metal, they're not even getting paid for this, it's free labor, that, you know, hopefully someone will buy those little pieces of metal that they're extracting from all the technology that Western countries are just dumping on these countries. And these people are living on these, these dumps where this electronic waste is, obviously, it has a big impact on their health, and the health of the ecosystems. And, you know, this is all driven by all these things that we like to think are very clean and very sort of removed from the environment. So when we talk about social justice, we can just add that we don't have to exclude it's no competition here, we just extend our discussion about what do we care about this issue, let's extend that care, let's look at it from a global perspective. And try to understand that it's not just a local problem, but it's to the entire production chain of our linear commodity system.

Lindsay Persohn:

So what in one family might mean a shiny, new latest and greatest cell phone could potentially halfway around the world mean birth defects for another family? And I think that whenever a connection is that explicit, it really does help us to think more intentionally about our own choices when it comes to technology and our impacts on the environment. And understanding again, that our choices do have something to do with other people, you know, we tend in a western world to be so self centered, really, you know, we we see what we want, we want what we want. And in a capitalist driven society, that's what we're all about. Right? That's the, that's the measure of success. But understanding how that impacts other people, I think, is is so important to help us make more intentional choices and more healthful choices for this planet and for the people who inhabit it.

Antonio Lopez:

And William Gibson said, The future is not distributed evenly. And I think there's a lot of truth to that. And also, another phrase that I've been working with is this idea of eco apartheid. And the fact that, you know, we have designated certain populations around the world, as disposable that we have, our economic system demands sacrifice zones. You know, it's not the rich people living in these places. And I remember in the 1980s, there was this slogan in the anti nuclear movement, which was, you know, if the White House says it's safe, why not bury it there, you know, like, they're not burying nuclear waste at the White House, of course, it goes out to where the Native Americans live, or where the poor people live. So we want to bring all that awareness into how we talk about technology. So the reasons why people have rejected this perspective is because it does come across a little bit like an anti luddite perspective, like with Jerry Mander where he was his his response was just to completely boycott, media, technology and media. But my belief is that we have to engage in we have to utilize the tools that are available to us, because otherwise, you're not going to make any change. One of the things we have to work towards is developing a sense of eco citizenship. So, you know, let's use the tools. But let's also find a way to advocate for change in the way that they're produced, or to put pressure on companies to not use conflict minerals, we have to develop a more sort of a I would say an activist stance, which is something that a lot of media literacy, people are really avoiding, because again, they don't want the political controversy of being accused of being political activist, and therefore being pushed out of schools. And as we know, this already is charged atmosphere where there's a lot of pressure on schools to not teach critical race theory, or to mention, you know, anything that's gay, which is completely absurd. But people that are trying to get media literacy in the schools, you know, if you raise something that's considered to be anti technology, or anti capitalist, which is sort of inherent to the critique of when you look at the economic system and the environment, then that generates a certain level of fear. And there's one other thing that I should bring up, which is that there's a kind of a split in the media literacy movement between what some people call protectionism versus empowerment. And the protectionist are people who have I mean, this is a pejorative term. It's meant to label people who are sort of more politically active, and they come at media literacy as sort of like as a way to politicize people to raise consciousness. But protectionism also relates to people who who are concerned about like sexism or racism in the media. And then they want to protect people from that, which I don't think that people who are politically active are doing that. But there are certainly, you know, strands of in the past, at least of people, like even on the Christian right, or on the far left of people saying, you know, we have to ban certain types of media because they're harmful. And so that gets labels labeled as protectionist. And I've given talks at media literacy conferences, where I've been accused of being protectionist what I advocated for media fasting, which is, you know, take a day not use media. And so so well, that's protectionist, you're, you know, you're trying to block people's access to the media. So not at all. It's just, it's a tool to help develop awareness of our dependence on media. It's a it's a mindfulness tool, that's all it is, it's not telling someone media is bad, or don't use it. It's just saying, don't use it for a day and reflect on that experience. And what does that tell you about the way that you use media? So there's a lot of sort of, I would say, infighting over these issues in the movement.

Lindsay Persohn:

So with that in mind, if I, let's say, I'm a classroom teacher listening to this, and I feel like this is important stuff for kids to be able to navigate, right? And I think I'm, I'm with you, and that technology is here to stay, right. So we might as well learn about it and do better rather than trying to act like it doesn't exist, or try to get it out of our lives. Because like I said, I think it's here to stay. So if I were a teacher listening to this, do you have any tips on where to start? Whether it's starting with administration, starting with families, starting with students? How could we begin to create this eco citizenship kind of culture, in our classrooms and in our schools?

Antonio Lopez:

Well, I'm speaking mostly for the perspective of a media educator. So people have to take this for, you know, in the context that they work in, whether the teaching literature or whatever, I think that you can start already with what you're what you teach, which is, first of all, the subject matter of what you're teaching, bring in environmentally oriented subject matter. So if you're teaching, let's say graphic novels, bring in a graphic novel that deals with issues of climate change, or deals with the environment. If you're teaching film, or if you're teaching, advertising, awareness, brand films that have those as a subject so that you can start talking about it, because one of the things that I've learned in my exploration of climate communication, one of the most important things people are advocating for is that we have to start climate conversations. Because as a result of the politicization of climate science and making it controversial, people don't want to talk about it. It's the so called spiral of silence. They don't want to be socially outcast, and it's too controversial. So people just are quiet. So we have to talk about, and, you know, we can talk about it through film, we can talk about it through books, you know, English teachers can look at classify climate fiction, there's all kinds of books coming out now that I'm sure you're aware of. Or, if we're going to analyze advertisements, you know, this year on the Superbowl, had a bunch of ads about electric cars. So you can start talking about electrical cars. And the issue that I raised in my own work about traditional media literacy was, let's focus on the rhetorical strategy of the ad, and what is the message you're trying to communicate? But to think about it more in terms of systems and like, Well, okay, they're promoting the electric car as sort of a good sort of sustainable solution to the problems that we're having with the environment. And let's think this through how our electric cars made, what are the materials that they use for the batteries? Where does these materials come from? And, you know, the more you do that, the more you discover that really, you know, a car electric car, is just as new colonial construct as a gas powered car in the sense that they have to go extract lithium in countries like Chile or Peru, to really deconstruct as much as possible. And even like, you don't have to go in a classroom and say, you know, cell phones are bad and they're evil. You can just ask students, how's it made? Here's your research project, spend the whole semester, discover, find out how is this made? And, you know, they'll find pretty much on their own, that it is a very exploitative system, you don't have to like tell them that they'll figure it out pretty quickly. Because it's I think, objectively true.

Lindsay Persohn:

I think that's a really great question to begin with. How's it made, right? Because there is information out there. I can envision this as a class project. We're really everyone is contributing to this conversation, which I think would create so much debate and awareness and lots of good things that I think we try to get students to do to engage with the content. So that's such a great way to start. is bringing environmentally oriented content into the classroom as the subject matter for whatever the subject is that we want you working with.

Antonio Lopez:

Also, I would like to say that one activity I did last semester, I taught taught a class on writing for advocacy, which was focused on the climate. One of the things that came up in the materials that we're using in the course was that we take for granted that we're part of what we could say, is a fossil fuel culture that has made our lives better. And the oil companies like to remind us that all the time, and we're very much attached to it. And one of the reasons why people are resistant to change is because we all are attached to the status quo, it's comfortable. For us, it's what's familiar. So it's very important to get the students to name the world and to you could just literally go into classroom as I did last semester, and I asked the students, how much of what is in this room right here is made possible by fossil fuels. And it turns out every single thing, the chairs, the desk, the table, the video projector, the screen, maybe the only thing not made possible by fossil fuels, is the window, but then the window has to be shipped over from somewhere. And you know, and so it's ingrained in our lives. And this, I think, also relates to Friere's work in terms of like reading the text, reading the world as a text, and getting people to identify what's there. And then once you can identify that, then you can start trying to solve problems. And this is actually something that comes out of the fields of environmental communication, which is that in order to solve a problem, you have to name the problem. And this is what happens in the media is that people are basically arguing over and contesting how problems are defined. But that sort of naming process is really important. So rather than be silent about it, let's bring it into discussion was bringing into awareness. Let's talk about I don't have the solution, I can't tell you exactly how we can transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. But we can at least identify why it is that we're so attached to it and why we're sort of psychologically unable to break that bonds.

Lindsay Persohn:

Wow, when you started talking about all of the things in a classroom made possible by fossil fuels. I think I had a little mind blown moment there, because you're right, everything. Really everything that around us is fossil fuels have touched it in one way or another. And putting a name to that, I think identifying what that actually is. It certainly is a moment where you begin to ask questions and begin to think, well, how is that made? How does that make its way to me? What happens when I'm done with it? You know, all of those big questions that I think can lead to really rich and engaging conversations around the, you know, the world and our connections to it and our influences on the rest of the world and others who we may know or or may not know. So starting the conversation, I think is is a key phrase I took away from that. And certainly you did just start a conversation in my mind. You know, as you were talking, Antonio, I also made some connections to Rick Beaches, episode of Classroom Caffeine, where he really talks a lot about systems thinking and how we are going to have to rethink so many of our systems in order to meet the needs of our changing world. And so I wanted to make that connection for listeners and also connect to Alexandra Panos' episode, where she talks about how teachers can really take two texts that seem to be the same on the surface, but we dig a little bit deeper and ask questions about who created this, who funded this, who put it out there in the world. And I think that those are also great ways to start conversations around eco Media Literacies in particular.

Antonio Lopez:

Yeah. So I think that teachers need to talk to each other also across disciplines. So I think we can take our cue from like Environmental Humanities, in Eco criticism, which say that essentially to do eco criticism is it's like three pillars, you have to have scientific literacy, you need socio political literacy, and you need cultural literacy. And the cultural literacy has to do with the kinds of rhetorical patterns and discourses that we've inherited over time, through literature and in popular culture, which influence how we think about the environment about the wilderness about the past, or all these these types of things, which are very pervasive in everything advertising, popular culture, and so forth. But then the political literacy that comes in is like understanding how the system is structured. And then, of course, the scientific literacy and usually, the way that our education is organized is very much siloed. So you know, and this is this is another issue that's come up in my community of media educators is like, a lot of people just assume, well, this is not my subject. It's like the environment belongs to the sciences and is not something that we do in social science. This is not something we do in literature. So we have to sort of start breaking down these barriers. But I sympathize with teachers. And I feel like they are under so much pressure just to keep up day to day, that how can people bring in something that's new or unfamiliar and difficult. And I imagine that a lot of people are very concerned about the environment, but they don't necessarily know how to talk about it, they don't have the background, to to introduce it into into the curriculum. That's why the book I wrote, ecomedia literacy was intended to be sort of like, a guidebook for people to bring in a lot of the thinking from the environmental perspective that they've been may not have been exposed to, to start thinking a little bit differently about the way they teach literature or media. But the last thing I want to say is because you'd asked about, should we talk to teachers or, you know, administrators, I think that there on a policy level, there has to be changes. And one thing that I would highly recommend, is, I think we need professional development, we need to have a space created, where people can learn new things, and have the support to experiment and to into start bringing in these different perspectives into the work otherwise, I don't think it's going to happen, because I don't think people have the time to just do it on the one on their own, or on the weekend, when everyone is already so burned out and overworked.

Lindsay Persohn:

Thank you for that. One more question for you today, Antonio, given the challenges of today's educational climate, and I think you've already touched on this a little bit, but what message do you want teachers to hear?

Antonio Lopez:

I think that teachers need to start the conversation. And in whatever way they can be it small or big. Any contribution they can make, to bring in what is going on with the climate and the environment into the classes is significant. And it's important. They don't have to be the world's top experts on these subjects. And they can even be innocent in the sense of ask the students, what do they care about? And what is the thing that they're so concerned with, because as we know that a lot of the climate movement has been driven by the youth, and they're very hungry for this kind of material to be to be brought into their curriculum. And I think, you know, the research is pretty clear that people learn when what they're studying relates to their lives. So that's why I suggested earlier to ask students to essentially, research will how's the thing that they depend on for their social capital, and for their daily reality, how's it made, and they will really learn it and really stick because it's pertinent to their everyday lives, it has a practical implication on the decisions that they're making and the things that they do. So I would really encourage educators to remember that there's something very practical to this, which is that it makes learning relevant to the students, it makes it something that they care about. And I think last but not least, something I think a lot about, which is when I did a bunch of research on disinformation and the history of sort of what I call fake climate news. One of the successes of disinformation is that it really makes it very difficult for people to have a coherent worldview or a coherent strategy to deal with climate action. And so we need to, of course, address and pay attention to the fact that this information has had such a pernicious effect on our society, and what some people call the epistemological crisis in which people don't know what to believe. But we have to reconstruct a coherent narrative. And I think that could be the most powerful thing we can do in the face of all that Disinformation and Propaganda is to really have a coherent narrative on climate action. Whatever form that takes and how we do that, I don't have the answer. But I think this is what we have to focus on.

Lindsay Persohn:

I think that's so important, the idea of reconstructing a coherent narrative. I think if we were to invite young people into that conversation to help us co construct that narrative, I think we could end up with something really powerful. And there's one other thing you said that I really wanted to highlight, Antonio, and that is that we don't have to be experts to have these conversations, because I think that ideas like even hear the term eco Media Literacies you think whoa, I'm not sure what to do with that. But when you break it down the way that you have for us in this conversation, and help us to think about the fact that this is relevant to all of us, there isn't a single person on this planet that this doesn't touch and we have to start somewhere. We have to start that conversation. So yeah, thank you so much for the that information and thank you for unpacking some of those big ideas for us. And I also want to thank you for for the work you do in the world every day and for your time today,

Antonio Lopez:

thank you so much. It was such a pleasure to speak with you and I really hope to hear from our listeners, how they respond to this and what conversations that they might start.

Lindsay Persohn:

Dr. Antonio Lopez is known for his work bridging eco justice and media literacy. He was content provider for a groundbreaking Spanish language media and health CD ROM produced by the New Mexico media literacy project medios a Remedios and created a multicultural media literacy curriculum merchants of culture. He has appeared on news outlets like NPR and BBC as an expert on the topic of fake news. As a producer of dozens of youth media projects, Antonio has collaborated with the MacArthur Foundation, the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy Praxis project and National Rural Health Organization. He's written numerous academic articles which have been published in journals such as the Journal of media literacy education, Journal of sustainability education, media education research journal and the handbook of media education research. His work has appeared in many edited books and He's author of four books, eco media literacy, integrating ecology into media education, greening, media education, bridging media literacy with green cultural citizenship, the media ecosystem, what ecology can teach us about responsible media practice, and media ecology, a multicultural approach to media literacy in the 21st century, Antonio holds a bachelor's degree in peace and conflict studies from the University of California Berkeley, a master's in Media Studies from the new school on social research, and a PhD in sustainability education from Prescott College. Dr. Lopez is an Associate Professor and Chair of Communications and Media Studies at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy. You can learn more about his work and connect with Antonio at Antonio dash lopez.com That's a n t o n i o - l o p e z.com. For the good of all students, good research should inform good practice and vice versa. listeners are invited to respond to an episode learn more about our guests, searched past episodes, or request a topic or conversation with a specific person through our website at classroom caffeine.com. If you've learned something today, or just enjoyed listening, please be encouraged to talk about what you heard with your colleagues, and subscribe and review this podcast through your podcast provider. As always, I raised my mug to you teachers. Thanks for joining me