YOUTH, MEDIA, & POP CULTURE
The assigned reading for this week, Imperial Imaginaries: Employing Science Fiction to Talk About Geopolitics (Saunders, 2015) gave new insights by addressing societal and cultural issues through the use of science fiction. From my own personal and professional experience, the use of films and TV series in IR does have some clear advantages. Having a strong interest in IR when I was in high school and later pursuing political science during my undergraduate years, certain concepts in IR were complicated or too mundane to grasp. I remember in my second year American Politics class, my professor referenced Star Trek to explain the concept of balance of power and structural realism during the Cold War era, and in that instance, I felt like I had an “Aha” moment and was able to engage in the conversation.
It is widely accepted as scientific knowledge that the human memory stores information in both a visual and an oral form and that a combination of both cognitive capacities helps people access, learn and then remember information (Kuzma and Haney, 2001). Students retain 10% of what they read, but 50% of what they see and hear (Powner and Allendoerfer, 2008). As a young student with interest in Star Trek sitting in classroom trying to grasp the concepts of the Cold War era, reference to Sci-Fi triggered a point of interest to contribute to the conversation. However, I think that from my professional experience, there needs to be a balance in how often film and TV series are used to teach IR. No matter how ‘perfectly’ a documentary is directed or how popularly rated it is all documentaries are inherently subjective. Moreover, they over simplify and condense history. It’s also important to note that sometimes referencing what may seem to be very popular, may not necessarily be familiar to everyone. I can relate to this because I have attended classes where the instructor references Breaking Bad and I have no idea what is going on and unable to relate to the conversation because I haven’t seen the show.
Kuzma, Lynn M. and Patrick J. Haney (2001) ‘And … Action! Using Film to Learn about Foreign Policy’, International Studies Perspectives 2 (1): 33–5
Powner, Leanne C. and Michelle Allendoerfer (2008) ‘Evaluating Hypotheses about Active Learning’, International Studies Perspectives 9 (1): 75–89
My name is Farishta Amiri and I am an M.Ed student at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. My interests include technology, curriculum design, adult education and development.