Featured Professor: Antonio Lopez

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Communications professor Antonio Lopez is a leading international expert of media education. With a research focus on bridging sustainability with media literacy, he is an experienced curriculum designer, educator, trainer, theorist, researcher and public speaker.

What is it like teaching at John Cabot University?
The great thing about teaching at JCU is that our classrooms are multicultural and multinational environments where we can do comparative analysis of different societies, media systems and cultures. For example, if I were teaching in the US I could make a number of cultural assumptions and cultural references in the media with little question, but here I always have to ask myself: does such and such from such and such country understand my reference? In our classrooms all beliefs and assumptions have to be challenged. As an educator, that’s an exciting place to be.

What is your teaching philosophy?
I view education to be like media: both are trying to create communication environments that generate value. I think teaching should not be about force-feeding ideas, but teaching people how to think. As such, I base a lot of my teaching on discussion and dialog. I also believe in putting theory into practice. Whenever possible, I bring in real world examples and to get students to think about and discuss media that they might be consuming.

What makes Rome a good place to study Communications?
Part of studying media and communication is learning about the evolution of media technologies and how they influence society. Rome’s architecture, art and media come from multiple periods of history, so it is easy to draw attention to how media and communication strategies have varied according to cultural and historical environments. I’m also interested in how media impact our sense of time, space and place. I assign students to get lost in Rome without their media gadgets. It teaches them about their own media consumption, but also what a city is like without modern technological mediation. In Rome it’s easier to get into the mindset of someone from 500 or 2000 years ago.

As a media educator my goal is to make the familiar unfamiliar, therefore it is very important for people to leave their habitual environments. Not only do they learn about new places, but they learn about what they take for granted.

Tell us about your recent and forthcoming books.
My third book, Greening Media Education (which will be out at the end of August), caps the work from my first two books, Mediacology and The Media Ecosystem. Greening Media Education is a critique of existing media literacy practices and a proposal for incorporating ecoliteracy into media education. The internet (and so-called data “cloud”) produces as much Co2 as the aviation industry, and this will double in ten years. Meanwhile, our gadgets are made from conflict minerals and toxic chemical that are destroying habitats, waterways and food systems, not to forget the health of workers who make our technological toys.

What do you think the future holds for media?
While new media empowers us more than ever, the lack of privacy and the privatization of the internet are very worrisome. I’m also very concerned about the corporate consolidation of media, and how most media (print television and internet) are becoming instruments of oligarchy and environmental destruction. On the other hand, I think the many social movements that are emerging (such as the Arab Spring) would not be possible without media, so there are good things about how connected we are.

Tell us something else about yourself.
I’m a big baseball fan, I’m for the LA Dodgers, which tends to surprise people. Thanks to the internet, I can listen to my team’s radio broadcasts, but I have to stay up pretty late! Usually when I’m up for breakfast and drinking my coffee, the game is just finishing so I can catch an inning or two.

Learn more about the Department of Communications at John Cabot University in Rome.