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Renee Hobbs        

Professor, Founder of Media Education Lab & Author of "Mind Over Media"

Renee Hobbs is one of the world’s leading experts on media literacy education. She is Founder of the Media Education Lab, a global online community. Hobbs’s book, "Mind Over Media: Propaganda Education for a Digital Age" won the 2021 Prose Award for Excellence in Social Sciences from the American Association of Publishers. She began her career by offering the first teacher education program in media literacy education at Harvard University, and has since inspired a generation of students, teachers, and citizens on four continents who have helped build a global media literacy movement. As a full professor at the University of Rhode Island, Hobbs has published 12 books and more than 200 scholarly and professional articles.

Her engaging talks clearly demonstrate how media literacy can be implemented in home, school, workplace, and community settings. Audiences enjoy Hobbs’ passion and energy and the skillful way she engages people from all walks of life in ways that activate critical thinking about contemporary popular culture and media messages, especially the new types of persuasive genres on social media that may escape people’s scrutiny.

Speech Topics

Beyond Blame: Resisting the Fear and Hate that Leads to Violence

Mistrust and distrust are rising because it’s so easy to profit from conflict. Conflict compels our attention: it’s hard to look away. Movies, TV shows, news and social media all amplify (and sometimes glorify) fear, hate, and violence. In many movies, vigilantes are depicted as heroes and people working businesses and social institutions are depicted as corrupt, motivated purely by self-interest.

We live in a world of media stories that promote us-vs-them tribal thinking that limits our ability to see the value of people and ideas outside of our comfort zone. But what happens when we change the stories we tell about conflict? What happens when we humanize “the other”? When we recognize the difference between productive conflict and harmful conflict, we can activate simple but powerful communication strategies that leverage conflict and transform it into courageous conversations that connect people and build a spirit of shared humanity.

Attendee Results:

  • Learn how conflict entrepreneurs exploit conflict for fun and profit and how people are attracted to conflict and the drama it produces.
  • Understand how media messages offer distorted depictions of conflict in ways that can interfere with our understanding of its power and transformative potential.
  • Experience the joyful surprise of recognizing and resisting forms of us-vs-them thinking that are embedded in everyday life.
  • Learn to apply critical questions when encountering conflict in social media, entertainment, the news, and in our relationships.
  • Be part of a courageous community of people who recognize the power of productive conflict and resist pressures to amplify the harmful conflict that leads to fear, hate, and violence.

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