Call for applications

 -This call is now closed -


The omnipresence of media and communication technologies in everyday life calls for a broader definition of the concept of literacy, which would no longer be limited to the mastery of the written text (in reading and writing), but would encompass any ability to use symbols systems to participate actively in society, and to evolve critically and creatively, in an autonomous yet socialized fashion in the contemporary media and technological environment. 

Over the last decades, a multitude of labels have appeared to designate new forms of literacies, which are now the subject of an abundant body of research works from a variety of disciplines. Among these, media literacy, information literacy, and more recently digital literacy have gradually emerged as major fields of inquiry, and have seen the development of three coexisting research traditions, each with their own specific objects of study, conceptual apparatuses, methods, and arenas for dissemination and societal valorization. 

In the academic literature as well as in institutional discourses, digital, media and information literacies have been said to contribute to such diverse things as supporting critical thinking, creativity, active citizenship, or life-long learning, fostering the knowledge society, promoting cultural heritage, eradicating the (second-level) digital divide, or working towards a more inclusive society, among many other things.

The ReDMIL doctoral summer school sets out to advance the interdisciplinary scientific dialogue between these traditions, by putting PhD students from these three areas to work together, with their elder peers.

Defining digital/media/information literacy as culture, practices, or competences.

The definition of digital, media and information literacies is subject to multiple, contrasted approaches. Among other things, they have been alternatively framed as forms of culture, as practices, or as competences or skills. 

A number of approaches equate them with competences, combining knowledge and skills one needs to find, evaluate and use information or media, to produce messages and to interact through technology. Most of these approaches are at least partly motivated by the possibility of assessing literacies, and of measuring the efficiency of the educational initiatives that support their development. Other approaches have questioned the competence-based approach and defined literacies in terms of practices, emphasizing their situatedness and their connection to the social and cultural context in which they emerge. These approaches place literacies at the nexus of politics, power relations and ideologies. A third class of approaches have adopted a definition as a form of culture, oscillating between two conceptions of this term. On the one hand, some stress the role of the educational system in providing students with a culture of information, a media culture, or a digital culture, considered as general knowledge supporting active citizenship and lifelong learning. On the other hand, some adopt an anthropological understanding of the term "culture", which interweaves practices, uses, representations, values and norms, and highlights the plurality of the cultures of different social groups (the digital culture of the youth, the information culture of a professional community, etc.).

Connecting research on new literacies with the worlds of education and policy-making.

A wide range of educational initiatives aim to develop these new literacies among individuals of all ages, whether they are conducted in the context of formal education, professional training, the associative world, the media and technology industry or public authorities. Therefore, research on new literacies education necessarily has a praxeological dimension: although educational practices and research must be distinguished, a good research question cannot be defined without a thorough knowledge of educational practices from the field, or without considering the relevance of its results for educators. Similarly, as new literacies are considered as a factor of social and economic inclusion, and of citizen and democratic participation, they are a matter of public policies for many institutional actors. Hence, research on literacies also maintains a strong relationship to the public policies aimed at supporting their development, both as an object of study, and as an arena in which its outputs can be valorized and converted into political action.

The convergence of literacies

Many academics and institutions call for a convergence between digital, media and information literacies, both from the perspective of research and from the perspective of education and policy-making. Yet, setting a coherent, integrated agenda for Digital and Media Literacy [1] or Media and Information Literacy [2] is a challenge, in view of the diversity of approaches, both within and between the three traditions. On the one hand, the research stemming from these traditions is rooted within different disciplines (communication sciences, information sciences, learning sciences, psychology, sociology, computer science, etc.), upon which they draw their conceptual frameworks and methods, whether qualitative or quantitative. Notably, the prevalence of the concepts of culture, practice, or competence is different in each tradition. On the other hand, the educational initiatives dedicated to the development of these new literacies cover a great heterogeneity of practices, carried by different actors who have different conceptions that are more often implicit than explicit. These initiatives take place in extremely diverse and evolving technical, social, political, educational and cultural contexts. Correlatively, in terms of public policies, the stakes related to new literacies touch upon such diverse matters as social inclusion, labor and employability, education, individual rights, or media and technology regulation, to name only a few. This diversity makes it difficult to draw a coherent picture for literacy-related policies that would go beyond the promise of universal access to technology and basic operational skills for all.

In the face of this diverse, multifaceted landscape, creating venues for interdisciplinary exchanges in research seems like a good place to start working towards more convergence between digital, media and information literacies (especially as this convergence appears as an empirical requirement for understanding literacies), and young researchers seem like potential key players in this process.

Scope and goal of the ReDMIL 2018 doctoral summer school

In this context, the RedMIL 2018 doctoral summer school aims at contributing to the convergence between digital, media and information literacy research by bringing together researchers from all three communities, to foster the scientific debate and explore connections between them. 

The summer school is an international training program that will alternate between framing presentations by senior researchers and the in-depth discussion of emerging research by participating PhD students. 

It is organized on September 11th-14th, 2018 by the Groupe de Recherche en Médiation des Savoirs (Knowledge Mediation Research Group) at the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium, in partnership with the Canada Research Chair in Media Education and Human Rights (Université TELUQ).

The theme of the 2018 edition is: "Literacies as culture, practices, and competences". Participants will be invited to question the way they define digital/media/information literacy in terms of culture, practices, or competences, what it entails in terms of methods for their research, and how it shapes the usefulness of their research and how and where they can valorize its outputs. 

The goal of this summer school is to allow PhD students engaged in a doctoral research in the field of digital literacy, media literacy or information literacy:

  • to benefit from the expertise of renowned researchers in their field, though theoretical and methodological presentations;
  • to present their own research to an audience composed of these experts, as well as other PhD students and researchers;
  • to work collectively to the enhancement of their research work with other participants;
  • to improve their knowledge of the research undertaken by their peers.

The Summer School will start with a poster session (Sept. 11th), followed by six half-day workshops (Sept. 12th-14th) on the following topics:

  • theoretical frameworks in the study of digital, media and information literacies (one workshop);
  • epistemological issues in new literacies research (one workshop);
  • methods for observing, documenting, and assessing literacies and their associated educational practices and policies (three workshops);
  • designing research with social relevance and valorizing research results in society (one workshop).

Each half-day workshop will open with one or two plenary talks by renowned experts, followed by a session focused on the research work of the participating PhD students, exploring them from the perspectives developed in the plenary talks. In addition to presenting an outline of their work at the opening poster session, each participating PhD student will have the opportunity to present their work in two sessions, on two different topics.

The Summer School will also allow for numerous informal interactions (including a networking dinner) between experts, researchers and PhD students.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Maria José Brites, Lusófona University of Porto, Portugal
  • Sirkku Kotilainen, University of Tampere, Finland
  • Normand Landry, TELUQ (Université du Québec), Canada
  • Olivier Le Deuff, Université Bordeaux Montaigne, France
  • John Potter, University College London, United Kingdom
  • Leo Van Audenhove, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
  • Sheila Webber, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

Submission of applications

The summer school is targeted at PhD students at all stages of their research, who develop their research in the following areas :

  • the study of new literacies: observing, documenting and/or evaluating digital, media or information literacy;
  • the study of educational initiatives in digital, media or information literacy developed by a variety of actors (teachers and educators, employers, associations, parents, media and tech companies, …);
  • the study of public policies in the fields of digital, media and information literacies at any geographical level;
  • or any other topic related to digital literacy, media literacy, or information literacy.

PhD students wishing to present and discuss their doctoral research at the summer school are invited to submit an application, including the following:

  1. A brief curriculum vitae (one to two pages);
  2. A presentation of their doctoral research in a maximum of 1500 words (references not included), including the following four sections:
    1. Problem or societal issue that the thesis intends to answer;
    2. Research question, hypotheses (in the case of a hypothetico-deductive approach) and theoretical framework of the thesis;
    3. Data collection and analysis method;
    4. Expected results: the usefulness of their research, from an academic and/or societal point of view (e.g. for the world of education, for the political world, for the media industry).
  3. An abstract of this presentation in a maximum of 300 words.

Applications must be sent in the form of a single file (word or pdf) including CV and presentation to this address by June 1st, 2018 June 15th, 2018 at the latest.

Candidates will be personally notified of the acceptance of their participation on June 22nd, 2018.

Participation in the summer school will be free for the PhD students whose application has been accepted. 

For researchers (whether doctoral or not) wishing to attend the summer school without presenting their work, a limited registration fee (covering lunch and coffee breaks) will be requested.


[1] Hobbs, R. (2010). Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action (Communications and Society Program). Washington D.C., U.S.A.: The Aspen Institute.

[2] UNESCO (2013). Global media and information literacy (mil). Assessment framework: Country readiness and competencies. Paris: Unesco.