Next Media Sandbox Challenge: Celebrating Diversity

Posted on: November 19, 2013

Media Sandbox Logo

Those who listened to public radio on WKAR this morning heard a wonderful feature recognizing today as the 150th anniversary date of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (1863). At a time when our nation was deeply torn and battered, just five months after the Civil War ended, Lincoln emphasized how democracy itself rested upon "the proposition that all men are created equal."

Ninety years later, the U. S. Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), overturned racial segregation in the nation's public schools. This case initiated what has become known over time as the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, sparking hope in a generation of men and women who dreamed of equality across the nation.

One hundred years later, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. The March on Washington (1963), led by Rev. King still burns brightly in many of our minds. While some of us were too young or not born yet when Rev. King delivered his speech, we still connect with his powerful words, "I have a dream today that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Project 60/50 logoTo commemorate these important landmark events and in consort with Michigan State University's Project 60/50, I am delighted to announce that the focus of the next Media Sandbox Challenge will be "Celebrating Diversity."

MSU's Project 60/50 is a yearlong community conversation on civil and human rights. The "60" represents 60 years since the Brown v. Board of Education ruling and the "50" represents 50 years since the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, making major forms of discrimination unlawful.

The Sandbox Challenge will ask students to delve into the issue of civil rights in America and explain its relevance. Students must choose a current magazine that has both a print and online presence. Then they must imagine that they have to cover these historic events for the magazine and make it relevant to the publication's audience.

Challenge participants will have to explain the significance of the Brown decision as it applies to their peers today with four elements: a video, an infographic, a magazine layout and a website. They will be required to incorporate at least two of the following topics into their Challenge stories: the March on Washington and Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, the Brown v. Board of Education ruling and Jim Crow laws.

To submit an entry, students will need to assemble a multidisciplinary team with at least three undergraduate students who collectively have skills in writing, video, design, illustration, animation and photography. Half of the team members must be from the College of Communication Arts & Sciences and all work must be created by the team.

Researching the topic is a critical component of the Challenge. Students are encouraged to explore questions such as: What are the ongoing challenges our nation faces to achieve equality for all? How much better off today are African Americans, gays, women and others? How salient are issues surrounding topics like joblessness, housing, poverty and civil liberties? What data are out there that illustrate current trends? How is this topic relevant locally, regionally, nationally and internationally?

The potential for our students to learn about themselves, their family history, their community and the university is huge. The range of creativity they can explore regardless of whether they select a magazine for children, sports, entertainment, seniors, women or men, is limitless.

From the Media Sandbox perspective, it also provides students the opportunity to deploy every digital media tool available and to integrate those tools to create an outstanding award-winning entry.

So when do you get to vote? Yes, there will be a Voters' Choice Award that will take place toward the end of the spring semester. Voters will be able to go online and review the entries to cast their vote. The awards, Grand Prize ($3,000), Second Place ($1,500) and Third Place ($750), along with the Voters' Choice Award ($500), will be presented at the 2014 Alumni Celebration, so mark your calendars now for Saturday, May 3, 2014.

I can hardly wait to check out the entries and feel certain that this year's Media Sandbox Challenge will be one of those signature projects that our students and faculty refer to as a game changer in years to come.

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