Local woman helms initiative to improve media literacy



Courageous RI, a nonprofit initiative to provide training that counters disinformation, enhances civic participation and improves media literacy, has been launched by the Media Education Lab at the University of Rhode Island.

Pam Steager, a Jamestown resident, serves as its director of public engagement.

“Thinking critically about what we hear, read and see is important for Rhode Islanders of every background, across the political spectrum,” she said. “In our state and across the country, we are seeing the dangers of leaving disinformation unchecked.”

Subsidized by a $700,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Courageous

RI was the only organization in New England to be awarded money for this nationwide effort to prevent violence and extremism.

Courageous RI is a two-year initiative broken into three parts. The first part is a series of free online workshops that engage the public in examining media messages and building literacy skills. The next workshop, “High Conflict,” is scheduled for noon and 7 p.m. April 4 via Zoom. It will identify the way in which conflict is rooted in blame and shame strategies. The workshop also will examine the power of listening strategies, like “looping for understanding,” as a means of dialing down the conflicts that are encountered.

Another session, “Conflict Entrepreneurs,” is scheduled for noon and 8 p.m. April 18 via Zoom. It will examine the economics of social media and the techniques used to encourage social conflict as a means for gaining profit and power.

The second phase of programming will provide professional development to educators, librarians and police officers for media literacy to be used as a tool for civic education. The final phase will be a multimedia contest for high school and college students in an effort for them “to stay curious, not furious.”