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World in View: Social Media, Social Change, and Development Communication: Voluntourism and Representations of the Other

  • Tuesday, February 22, 2022
  • 10:30 AM- 12:00 PM
  • Zoom link will be provided

A World in View discussion led by Dr. Sara Liao (Penn State) and Dr. Kyung Sun “Karen” Lee (Zayed University, UAE)

This session will engage students in selected case studies and active discussion on the subject of development communication, specifically focusing on global voluntourism (volunteer tourism) and visual representations of others on social media. We will focus on how international humanitarian-themed campaigns are designed and practiced in a hierarchal process from the donor to the beneficiary. Based on real-world cases, we will extend the discussion to how social media and digital culture play a role in reinforcing and/or challenging age-old visual representations of the Other. We will discuss the possible and fruitful ways of using parodies and humor to counter the white-savior complex in humanitarian-themed campaigns, and of fostering new awareness of the problematic nature of global voluntourism.

Please note: Registration for events in this series is required and, given the topics and speakers, we anticipate interest to be high. For this reason, each event is limited to 25 Scholars and early registration is strongly encouraged. Participants of each event will also receive a complimentary electronic gift card.

Faculty Presenters

Sara Liao is an assistant professor of media studies and Asian studies at Penn State University. Her research intersects feminist studies, digital media, globalization, and East Asian popular culture. Her book titled Fashioning China: Precarious Creativity of Women Designers in Shanzhai Culture (Pluto, 2020) examines the creativity and precarity of a group of women fashion designers, whose experience encapsulates the shifting cultural terrain in China. She currently works on researching and writing about feminist activism against sexual harassment, sexism, racism, and misogyny in a transnational setting.

Kyung Sun “Karen” Lee is an assistant professor at the College of Communication and Media Sciences. Lee received her PhD degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. Lee’s research seeks to better understand the way in which national actors seek to build and project a desired image as influenced by digital technologies and global flows of communication. Her research has been supported by various grants. She is currently serving as a co-investigator in a multi-year project that seeks to design effective conflict management strategies in public diplomacy. In the past, she was a recipient of USC Center on Public Diplomacy’s doctoral dissertation grant, and her papers have won top-paper awards at International Communication Association (ICA). Lee’s research has appeared in peer-reviewed journals including International Journal of Communication, Computers in Human Behavior, and Journalism Studies.

Event Contact

Sarah Lyall-Combs
Schreyer Scholar Hannah Lombardo

With their small size and engaging professors, the hallmark feature of honors classes is being able to facilitate the deeper and more meaningful learning of course material in an intimate setting. Having that personal feedback in an environment that promotes asking questions has been very formative in my education.

Hannah Lombardo '20 Science BS/MBA

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