2009, Edition No. 5

Role of Communications Media and the Arts
in Democratic Citizenship Education

Dear Colleagues:

Educating citizens to resolve conflicts peacefully, respect diversity, and engage
in community and political life is of central concern to OAS member states. Communications media and the arts offer exciting opportunities for addressing democratic citizenship yet have often been overlooked in favor of traditional approaches to civic education.

Communications media have a profound influence on our values, actions and perceptions of reality. Many studies link current mass media trends that glorify violence with increased aggression amongst youth. However, when media inform and convey constructive and humane messages they can have a positive influence on individuals and communities by stimulating the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes that are considered to be essential for active citizenship.

Access to information is a critical dimension of democracy. However, access to information must be coupled with citizens’ ability to analyze critically and engage with that information. In addition, communications media can provide important spaces and mechanisms for citizenship participation and expression. Education, both formal and non formal, can provide children and youth with the knowledge and skills necessary to be “critical consumers of”, and “active participants in”, communications media.

The arts also play a valuable role in education for democratic citizenship. Numerous studies show that engagement in the arts not only improves levels of academic performance, but also is correlated with better school attendance rates, self-esteem, problem solving, collaboration, and participation in community service. As well as benefiting the individual, many programs have used the arts to transform communities. In these instances, the arts not only contribute to the social integration of individuals but also strengthen social relationships, identities and network-building capacities.

This bulletin highlights promising initiatives that employ communications media and art to bring about positive social change and offers resources for further exploration and collaboration.

We hope you find them to be of value.

Lenore Yaffee García
Director, Department of Education and Culture
Organization of American States

Horizontal Cooperation Fund for Technical Assistance Missions on Education for Democracy and Related Areas
More information >>

Seminar on Media and Arts as means to promote democratic values
More information >>

Second Advisory Board Meeting December 4-5, 2008
More information >>

Seminar on the Hemispheric Course for the Evaluation of Policies and Programs in Citizenship Education
(Antigua, Guatemala
December 1-3, 2008)
More information >>

What is the Inter-American Program?

The Inter-American Program on Education for Democratic Values and Practices is an alliance officially adopted by the ministers of education of OAS member states through CIDI/RME/RES. 12 (IV-O/05) at the IV Meeting of the Ministers of Education held in Scarborough, Trinidad and Tobago on August 11th and 12th, 2005.

The Program has three components:
(1) Research and analysis (2)Professional development and educational resources, and
(3) Cooperation and information exchange.

Structure of the Program

An interdisciplinary, cross-national Advisory Board of 40 members provides guidance for the Program, as does the Coordinating Group of Countries which each of the 34 OAS member states is invited to join.

More information on the Program and its achievements is available at:


Analytic Report
National Policies on Education for Democratic Citizenship in the Americas.
By Jo-Ann Amadeo
and Adriana Cepeda

Free Access

The Inter-American Journal of Education for Democracy

The objective to promote intellectual discussion and exchange of ideas to promote democratic citizenship education in the Americas. Created
in alliance with the University of Indiana , Pontificia Universidad Católica in Chile and the University
of Toronto.
Research articles may be submitted for consideration on an ongoing basis. See call for proposals in
the website of the journal. Free subscription.

Free subscription >>

Safer Cities Practical approaches to Urban Crime and Violence Prevention through the Arts: From Communities at Risk to Communities with Potentia(Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA April 29-30, 2009) (English)

Youth Forum of the Americas
Young Americas Business Trust

(Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago April 13-16, 2009) (English-Spanish)

Agents of change: The Organization of American States and MTV LATINAMERICA launched April 1st a special 30 minutes video called “Agents of Change III” (Spanish)

International Children's Day of Broadcasting: "Unite for Children - Tune in to Kids
March 1st, 2009 (English)

Ignite Las Américas
(Toronto, Canada from September 15-21, 2008) (English)

IV Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture
Bridgetown, Barbados
November 20-21, 2008

LACVOX: Latin American and Caribbean Network of Young Communicators
San Salvador, El Salvador, September 9th 2008) (English)

•  Fourth edition (July-September) Human Rights Education

•  Third edition (May): Conflict Resolution and Peace Education

•  Second edition (October - December): How to Involve Youth
in Democratic Participation.

•  First edition (July-September): Inter – American Program.


…mass media must commit themselves to a discourse that fights against fatalism and resignation.
One of the effects of long-lasting conflicts is the appearance of feelings of learned hopelessness among the population. Individuals have a whole series of failed attempts of pacific solution of the conflict in their heads, and of the high personal and social costs involved in trying to change the facts. It is clearly about changing cultural practices. Therefore, media must favor the creation of favorable expectations for the solution of the conflict and try to involve citizens in reaching that goal. Feelings of impotence must be replaced by the belief that the voice and the action of unarmed civilians is basic to finding positive alternatives to the conflict

Lopez, W. y Sabucedo, M. 2007 Culture of Peace and Mass media

Editorial Team
Lenore Yaffee García
Jorge Baxter
Adriana Cepeda
Romina Kasman

Carla Jiménez
Tara Brian
Romina Kasman

Graphic Design
Claudia Saidon

Máximo Gastaldi

Interested institutions and individuals are encouraged to join this hemispheric alliance by contacting the Inter-American Program's technical secretariat at the OAS. Please contact us at

  Basic Documents

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child  (See Articles 3, 13 & 17) (English)

OAS General Assembly Resolution Declaration of Medellin: Youth and Democratic Values  (English)

OAS Permanent Portfolio of Exemplary Programs in Culture (English)

Charter 4th World Summit on Media for Children and Adolescents (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2004) (English)

Oslo Challenge (English)

  Other international organizations working on the Topic

United Nations (English)
UNESCO (English)
Communication and Information Sector
Culture Sector

UNICEF (English)
OEI (Español)
Council of Europe (English)

  Educational Resources

Arts edge Kennedy Center (English)

Arts Education Partnership (English)

Center for Media Literacy (English)

European Centre for Media (English)

International Clearinghouse on Children, Youth & Media (English)

Media Awareness (English- French)

Sesame Workshop (English)

The Teaching Educators about Media (TEAM) Project. (English)
University of Texas at Austin


Recondita armonia – A reflection on the function of culture in building citizenship capacity (English)
Por Dick Stanley para el Consejo de Europa

Changing Citizenship in the Digital Age by W. Lance Bennett (English)

Media Literacy “Mapping Media Education Policies in the World: Visions, Programmes and Challenges” (English)
by United Nations, Alliance of Civilizations, UNESCO, European Commission and Grupo Comunicar.

“La educación en valores y los medios de comunicación” (Spanish)
Por Juan Ramón Jiménez

Educar en ética, estética y ciudadanía (Spanish)
by Leonardo Garnier, Ministry of Public Education of Costa Rica

  Experiences in the Americas

Animate (Spanish)

Canal Futura (English)

Capoeira for Empowerment and Peace Program (CEPP) (English)

Sisichakunaq Pukllaynin (Spanish)

The Remix Project (English)

UNESCO Open Schools Programme Education and Culture for Peace (English)

  Experiences outside the Americas

Community Multimedia Centers in Nepal (English)

Media Initiative for Children (English)

MTV THINK (English)

Oneminutejr Net (English)

PANWAPA ( Español - English )

  Upcoming Events

39th OAS General Assembly “Toward a Culture of Non-Violence”. This year, from June 1 to 3, the government of Honduras will host the 39th session of the OAS General Assembly in San Pedro Sula, an event designed to reflect upon the topic “toward a culture of non-violence”. One of the most important issues to consider for planning strategies that lead to achieve this goal, is how the arts and culture have proved to be effective tools in building a culture of peace, combating social exclusion and facilitating integral development.
More information >>

Seminar on Media and Arts Seminar on the topic of arts and media as a vehicle to promote social and emotional learning
Two powerful agents that have the potential to shape young people’s views, attitudes, values and knowledge as they relate to democracy include communications media (television, movies, radio, and internet) and the arts (understood broadly to include the performing and fine arts). For this reason, the Inter American Program on Education for Democratic Values and Practices is organizing an international workshop with policymakers, experts, and practitioners in the field. This project will provide an opportunity for OAS member states to explore the role of the arts and communications media in developing citizenship knowledge, skills, and values, including the latest findings from research and practice, and also consider how they relate to one another.
More information >>

  Current Project Highlights, News and Opportunities

Horizontal Cooperation Fund for Technical Assistance Missions on Education for Democracy and Related Areas

Inter-American Program on Education for Democratic Values and Practices. 1st Call for Requests for Technical Assistance Missions
The Department of Education and Culture (DEC) of the Organization of American States (OAS) has launched a Cooperation Fund for Technical Assistance Missions between OAS Member States in education for democratic citizenship and related fields (such as peace education, democracy education, diversity education, human rights education, among others). The purpose of the Fund is to strengthen member states’ ability to design and implement effective policies and programs that encourage the development of a culture of democracy and peace through education. The Fund, which will be allocated through a competitive process, will finance travel for technical assistance missions to enable a country with specific expertise in a particular topic to travel to or be visited by another country or countries which could benefit from that technical expertise.

The Fund, which will be allocated through a competitive process, will finance travel for technical assistance missions to enable a country with specific expertise in a particular topic to travel to or be visited by another country or countries which could benefit from that technical expertise. The fund promotes bilateral and multilateral cooperation among governmental institutions of the OAS member states, for example, among Ministries of Education, and also among governmental institutions from one country and other types of institutions from another country (for example, non-governmental organizations, universities and private institutions).

The deadline to receive requests from interested parties was extended to June, 1st, 2009. Please, send the documents to Adriana Cepeda or Jorge Baxter.

The missions are expected to be carried out between July and October, 2009.
More information >>
Press release >>
First Call for Requests for Technical Assistance Missions (English)

OAS Course on Teaching Democratic Citizenship Kicks Off
Fifty educators from five (5) countries commenced a distance course for Caribbean educators entitled ‘Education for Democratic Citizenship in the Caribbean’ (EDCC) on March 9, 2009. The course is designed to ensure that the classroom can become an early incubator for the cultivation of democratic cultural practices in and among emerging generations of Caribbean citizens. The distance course consists of two three-month phases. The first is an on line course which will provide educators with the tools – knowledge and skills – needed to complete a follow-on practicum in their classrooms.

The course, which is being offered through UWI Open Campus, is part of a 3-year pilot project funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and administered by the Department of Education and Culture of the Organization of American States (OAS). The five countries participating in the pilot project are Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. Over 200 additional educators throughout the Caribbean will participate in the second cohort scheduled to commence in September 2009.
More information >>

Young Scholars Program:
An opportunity for being part of OAS

In an effort to incorporate youth within the planning and implementation of the Inter-American Program on Education for Democratic Values and Practices, the OAS has developed the Young Scholar Program, which is part of the Professional Development Component of the Inter American Program.. The program is currently accepting applications from young students and professionals in the Americas  who are willing to participate actively in the  Program's activities, as part of their college coursework or as an independent initiative. This work may include research, meeting participation, translations, planning and participation in Program events within and outside the United States, among others. If interested, send us your C.V. and  a letter of interest to education@oas.org.

 Be part of the Dialog

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We welcome your suggestions and active participation in the construction of this publication.
Contact us at: education@oas.org

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About the OAS
The Organization of American States (OAS) brings together the countries of the Western Hemisphere to strengthen cooperation and advance common interests. It is the region's premier forum for multilateral dialogue and concerted action. Although the idea of Inter-American cooperation dates back much further, the OAS came into being in 1948, evolving from the Pan American Union. Countries from all around the world are permanent observers, closely following the issues that are critical to the Americas.

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