UO to establish UNESCO Institute for Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict-Sensitive Reporting

UNESCOEUGENE, Ore. – (Dec. 2, 2013) – The University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication recently announced an agreement with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to establish the UNESCO Institute

 for Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict-Sensitive Reporting at the University of Oregon.

The new institute continues the work begun by the UO’s Center for Intercultural Dialogue – which was established in 2008 to engage students, faculty and community members in building a global community through education and dialogue – and incorporates the work of the SOJC’s James Wallace Chair in Journalism Peter Laufer by adding the crucial dimension of the role of media in building such a world community.

The combined effort grew, in part, out of Laufer’s course in Conflict Sensitive Reporting in the spring of 2012. As part of the class, Laufer took a team of SOJC students and faculty to the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day Conference in Tunisia, where his students worked with other student journalists from around the world to produce a daily newspaper for the three days of the conference. Laufer continued the conversation with UNESCO on global press issues, returning with another group of students and faculty to the conference the following year, this time in Costa Rica.

The UNESCO Institute, housed at both the UO’s George S. Turnbull Center in Portland and in Gerlinger Hall on the Eugene campus, will host conferences and other public programs, provide grant funding for research and innovative teaching, and publish a journal – all devoted to fostering improved cross-cultural communication and understanding the impact of news reporting on conflict.

“We are delighted to formalize our relationship with UNESCO,” said Laufer, who co-directs the institute with Steven Shankman, UNESCO chair for Transcultural Studies, Interreligious Dialogue and Peace and distinguished professor of English and classics. “We certainly share a mission to engage in the current issues of international dialogue, with conflict-sensitive reporting being at the forefront of our concern.”

Shankman sees the increase in impact that comes with an UNESCO collaboration as a significant opportunity for students and scholars at UO and ultimately a benefit to reporters and the conflicts they cover.

“Media has a huge impact on society,” Shankman noted. “It is our fervent hope that this new UNESCO institute will encourage news reporters to fulfill their ethical responsibility as journalists in an increasingly intercultural world.”

About the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication

The University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) produces outstanding writers, editors, digital media makers, strategists and critical thinkers by providing a school grounded in ethics, innovation, action and social responsibility. The school counts nine Pulitzer Prize winners among its more than 9,000 graduates.

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO is also one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kellee Weinhold, UO School of Journalism and Communication, 541-346-2897, kelleew@uoregon.edu