USC and VICE collaborate on course for creating media to drive social change

Gloria Steinem will participate in USC Annenberg curriculum developed from VICELAND documentary series WOMAN

USC Annenberg, in partnership with VICE Media, will launch a new class in Spring 2018 developed from VICELAND’s Emmy-nominated documentary series WOMAN with Gloria Steinem. Using the documentary as a central theme, the students will learn both how the media portrays gender and how to create their own media for social change.

“We’re excited to bring this unique opportunity to USC Annenberg students,” said Dean Willow Bay. “The course integrates theory and practice to examine how media can expose violence against women and be deployed as a force for change.”

“Thanks to the grounding of these eight documentaries in the work of women activists, and to VICE for finding women correspondents who are both objective and caring, I believe that Woman, a series on violence against females in eight different countries, is as close viewers can come to actually being there,” said Gloria Steinem, executive producer of WOMAN.

“Our intention with WOMAN was always to create socially responsible content that could empower our audience to create change,” said Ariel Wengroff, executive producer of WOMAN. “We want our audience to bear witness to the untold stories of women, connecting the dots of how these systemic issues that we ghettoize as ‘women’s issues’ actually can determine the course of a nation, depending on how they’re dealt with. As the world’s leading youth media brand, we are thrilled that this course will mentor and educate the next class of journalists to bring these necessary stories to life.”

“The overall goal of the course is to help students develop as more engaged, informed and empathetic citizens who are empowered to bring resolution and shared understanding to areas of conflict in their own lives and in the broader community,” said Professor Sarah Banet-Weiser, vice-dean of USC Annenberg, who will co-teach COMM 366, “WOMAN: Designing Media for Social Change,” alongside Professor of Communication Alison Trope.

The series of eight documentaries was created by VICELAND, VICE’s Emmy Award-winning cable network, in conjunction with feminist writers and activists Gloria Steinem and Amy Richards, with Executive Producers Nomi Ernst Leidner and Ariel Wengroff and Co-Executive Producer Joanna Forscher. Each installment of the series examines violence against women in a different part of the world, from North America to Zambia, with reporting by an on-site correspondent. The series highlights the potential for action from the audience to create change. WOMAN is the only VICE program to be piloted into a higher-education course.

USC Annenberg’s new class will use specific episodes of WOMAN and guest speakers, alongside images of media from the late 20th century to the present, to build its examination of gender issues. Students will explore media representations of gender and will investigate and analyze how it is tied to power, voice, race, socio-economic status and sexual orientation.

With gender theories as a guide, students will then delve into practice, using documentary as a vehicle for social change. They will learn the tools for creating a media project — from pitching and shaping to digging into production itself. Content made by the students will be published on Broadly, VICE’s female-focused site.

“By the conclusion of the class, our hope is that students will have a project to enact social change. Beyond that, they’ll have an understanding of the cultural representations of gender identity and ways to practice storytelling in the context of disenfranchised communities. They will have a deeper knowledge of institutional policies that create barriers or avenues to social justice,” Banet-Weiser said.

About VICE Media

VICE is the world’s leading youth media brand. Launched in 1994, VICE is on pace to bring its award-winning programming to over 80 territories worldwide by the end of 2017 across mobile, digital and linear platforms. VICE operates an expanding international network of digital channels; a television and feature film production studio; an Emmy-nominated international television network, VICELAND; an Emmy-nominated weekly newsmagazine show on HBO; a nightly news series on HBO; an in-house creative services agencies and branded studio; a magazine; and a record label.

VICE’s award-winning programming has been recognized by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Peabody Awards, Sundance Film Festival, PEN Center, Cannes Lions, Frontline Club, Knight Foundation, American Society of Magazine Editors, LA Press Club, James Beard awards, and Webby Awards, among others.

Gretchen Parker McCartney is Director of Media Relations for USC Annenberg. Prior to joining USC in 2010, she was a reporter for Us Weekly and a writer for The Associated Press and newspapers in Florida and Texas. Her work has appeared in publications all over the world; most recently, she was a...