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Integrating Nonviolent Communication in Media and Journalism Studies

Wednesday - June 16, 2021 2:35 pm , Category : OPINION & INTERVIEW

Dr Vedabhyas Kundu,
Programme Officer,
Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti

 
At a time when the dominant discourse in different media platforms is violence and conflicts, Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, the national memorial of Mahatma Gandhi is trying to promote nonviolent alternatives in the discourses by promoting the tools of nonviolent communication. Even in the study of the media, the thrust has been on violence and conflicts and its effects in individuals and society. There has been little space for nonviolence and peacebuilding in the study of communication and media.

Media violence and its effects are discussed with concern by different stakeholders of the society and has often been attributed to trends towards sensationalism, commercialization and increase of TRPs. Words like television, films, video games and violence seem to have etched into the popular consciousness.

In this backdrop, Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti in making all its efforts to popularize and promote the concept of nonviolent communication amongst all sections of the society and across all disciplines of study. This endeavour is not just restricted to India but in different parts of the world.

In an important initiative to integrate nonviolent communication in media and journalism studies, the Media Studies and Journalism Department of the University of Liberal Arts, Bangladesh asked its students to develop different media products having elements of nonviolent communication. This is a follow-up of the E-workshop that the Samiti had organized with the Department. The thrust of the workshop and subsequent interactions with the faculty focused on how the students could integrate their understanding of nonviolent communication in different areas like advertisements, documentaries, films, blogs, photography and paintings. To showcase this effort, the University set up a virtual exhibition exhibiting the efforts of the students. Students made animation films portraying how nonviolent communication could be used in our daily lives and in the public. The documentaries portrayed how it was a significant tool in our social life. The students also showcased on how elements of nonviolent communication could be used in journalistic reporting.

A very large number of students expressed their understanding of nonviolent communication through their blogs. According to Tabassum in her blog, “It is a technique that is designed to increase empathy and to come up with a healthy solution rather than behaving violently. If we want to live a healthy lifestyle, we need to talk with people around us.”

Further, Lamia wrote in her blog, “Nonviolent communications help’s us to create our bond stronger and more understanding in our day - to- day life. It helps us to respect each other’s opinion on a certain point and accept it. Also, instead of fighting over a certain issue now we try to listen to each other’s point and try to come up with a healthy solution that satisfies both.”

Shafin Subhro in his blog wrote, Nonviolent communication is the practice of communicating without having to express any sorts of hatred or rage if any kind of dispute arises. Nonviolent communication has not only its social impacts but also its psychological impacts.”

On why the Department of Media Studies and Journalism chose the theme of nonviolent communication in their curriculum integration programme, Prof Jude William Genelo, Head of the Department,said the theme was first discussed after the session with Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti. He pointed out, “Violence begets violence and leads to disastrous results. If we follow a path of retaliation, in the words of Gandhi, ‘the world will soon be blind’ and ‘the world will soon be blind and toothless’. Hence, conflicts should be resolved by negotiation and dialogue – through communication. Violence is something we need to avoid at all costs.

Nonviolent communication assumes that all human beings have the capacity for compassion and empathy and that people only resort to violence or behavior harmful to others when they do not recognize more effective strategies for meeting their needs. The goal, therefore, is to identify shared needs and develop strategies to meet each other’s needs. In order to achieve this, there is need for tolerance, compassion and collaboration.”

Talking further on the theme of nonviolent communication, Prof Genelo said, “It is the embodiment of its liberal arts philosophy and active learning approach. Every team, participating in the department dissect a theme viewing it from multiple angle and manifesting it through various creative works such as photographs, posters, speeches,blogs/vblogs,painting, video art. Music videos, animation, TV news packages, documentary productions, fictional narrative productions and infotainment productions.”

Encouraged by the interest to integrate nonviolent communication in different disciplines, Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti is now working with Universities/Departments of different disciplines including education, media and journalism studies and law. The aim is facilitate a paper or course on nonviolent communication in all areas of study. 
 
Let us be clear on the language we use and the thoughts we nurture. For what is language but the expression of thought? Let your thought be accurate and truthful, and you will hasten the advent of swaraj even if the whole world is against you.- Mahatma Gandhi

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