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Information on Humanitarian Communication in the Global Media Age Panels and Symposium

POLIS is embarking on a programme of research and debate around Humanitarian Communication for the 2008-09 academic year. Our ambition is to help shape a new agenda for understanding how we mediate issues of suffering and aid. We want to have an impact on the public and those who work in this field. We welcome inquiries from anyone who wants to become involved in that programme of study, research and debate. This page will contain the latest information about events and speakers for our series on "Humanitarian Communication in the Global Media Age". We welcome any inquiries at .

Charlie Beckett, (Polis Director) and Professor Lilie Chouliaraki

Debates and workshops, MT 2008

Our series includes panel debates, high profile public lectures and conferences for researchers as well as stakeholders. Panels are open to the public but space is limited so please email us at to ensure a seat. For Autumn 2008, these panels include:

Panel One: Media, Ethics, Humanitarian Communication

October 30th, 18.30-20.00. Venue: G108, Kingsway

Humanitarian communication is a unique form of communication: it aims at making us care about people we have never known and will never meet. How humanitarian campaigns choose to confront us with distant others and how they justify and legitimise their calls to action about suffering is crucial. This panel discusses the broader issues of ethics, persuasion and commitment that are thrown into relief as various forms of humanitarian campaigns are striving, on the one hand, to attract sponsors and create their own market niche and, on the other, to define conceptions of justice, citizenship and responsibility– ultimately, the very nature of humanity.

Invited Participants: Prof. Paul Gilroy, LSE; Prof. Jean Seaton, University of Westminster; Prof. Stan Cohen, LSE

Panel Two. Humanitarian Campaigning and the Cosmopolitan Imagination

November 6th, 18.30-20.00. Venue: G108, Kingsway

The panel discusses the increasing commercialisation in the communication practices of NGOs and reflects on the tensions that this trend brings about. These are old tensions between fund- and awareness-raising, which are now reformulated as tensions between profit and justice; consumption and solidarity; entertainment and social change.

Invited Participants: Dr. Bruna Seu, Birkbeck College, Univeristy of London; Denise Searle, communications consultant, Oxfam; ex- Senior Director of Campaigns, Amnesty International and Chief of Broadcasting, UNIFEC

Panel Three. The Mediatisation of Humanitarian Crises

November 13th, 18.30-20.00. Venue: G108, Kingsway


This panel focuses on the symbiotic relationship between media and humanitarian NGOs, raising issues about the ways in which i) the media are currently shaping not only the reporting of emergencies and crises but also the very communication strategies and market images of NGOs and ii) the ways in which new media and citizen journalism may be changing the ways reporting of humanitarian issues takes place. It addresses the responsibility of media and journalists in reporting on human suffering- a responsibility not only about informing the public but also about shaping the conditions of solidarity with vulnerable others within and outside the West.

Invited Participants: Prof. Simon Cottle, University of Cardiff; Glenda Cooper, Reuters Institute Fellow, Oxford University; TBA