CURRICULUM • Reporting on Justice

Teaching Law, Justice & Human Rights

Barbed wire-long

With support from the Open Society Foundation, the Salzburg Global Seminar in conjunction with the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda (ICMPA) launched an initiative to give journalism students worldwide a deeper understanding of international law, justice, and human rights and to teach those students the skills to identify key stories and appropriate sources.

Recognizing the critical role journalists play in conflict and peace, this project’s aim was to develop, pilot and evaluate model university curricula for reporting on international criminal justice events, issues and institutions.

The long-term goal of the Teaching Law, Justice & Human Rights project was to change the local news media’s reporting on human rights law and international justice issues.
Classroom instruction at key universities in conflict-affected regions can teach the next generation of journalists about new international justice institutions and give those students the reporting skills and the knowledge of new digital technologies increasingly essential to report accurately and responsibly to a local, national and even global public.

An in-depth white paper on the global needs for such curricula:  Preparing Journalists for New Realities:  Global Curriculum Pilot on the Coverage of Justice Issues and Institutions, was written and was followed by a high-level workshop at Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg, Austria. That first Salzburg  workshop considered the needs of journalism programs in universities in countries that have wrestled with covering stories about justice and rights: South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo.

International jurists, university partners, implementing organization workers, and journalists from across the globe convened in Austria to identify the core topics, cases, issues, and documents – national, regional, international – that journalism students need to be taught in directed courses.  With attention to both global concerns and regional needs, the workshop participants drafted the outlines of a curricular platform on “International Law and Justice for Journalists” — a platform that can be adapted to a wide range of university journalism departments and law schools.

The workshop participants worked to identify those issues, cases and documents relating to international justice, law and human rights, especially in regards to the roles played by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and other international instruments and tribunals in combination with local and national law and judiciaries.

The workshop participants also assessed  how to best teach the skills the next generation of journalists needs to identify key stories and appropriate sources.

The conversation in Salzburg considered such “realities” as:

  • Institutions in the field of international justice: i.e. the International Criminal Court and war crimes tribunals;
  • Technologies: digital technologies as well as  cross-platform media institutions that provide a wide range of delivery and engagement methods;
  • Players in the field: journalism schools increasingly teach students who may practice journalism or quasi-journalism in non-traditional news institutions, i.e. NGOs and social networking and citizen journalism sites.

A second Salzburg workshop was convened to finalize the three-part global curriculum. That curriculum has been added to the site linked below.

Deborah Nelson – a professor, a lawyer, an author of a book about U.S. war crimes, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist – researched and wrote the report on which the Justice website is based.


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