Scheda insegnamento


L'insegnamento contribuisce al perseguimento degli Obiettivi di Sviluppo Sostenibile dell'Agenda 2030 dell'ONU.

Sconfiggere la povertà Salute e benessere Parità di genere Ridurre le disuguaglianze

Anno Accademico 2020/2021

Conoscenze e abilità da conseguire

Al termine del corso lo/a studente/ssa ha acquisito gli strumenti analitici e le competenze necessarie per padroneggiare concetti e metodi che guidano la comunicazione umanitaria e sociale. In particolare, attraverso l'utilizzo di esempi e case studies, conosce: la complessa rete di relazioni che intercorre tra povertà, sviluppo, solidarietà e rappresentazione della sofferenza, le diverse forme di comunicazione utlizzate da organizzazioni sociali ed umanitarie, i processi che influenzano la costruzione dei problemi sociali, i principi che regolano la produzione di campagne di comunicazione sociale, le diverse implicazioni che l'utilizzo di strumenti tecnico-strategici (come, ad esempio, storytelling, testimonial, branding) hanno per questo specifico segmento della comunicazione.


The course is organized in lectures and seminars, as detailed in the following program. Lectures (16 hours in remote on MS TEAMS) aim to introduce students to the core tenets of the discipline. Seminars (12 hours) aim to provide occasions for in-depth discussions of class materials and exercises. For the seminar section of the course, students will be divided in two groups according to their preferences and according to rules concerning the current pandemic emergency: one group will do the seminar in classroom (12 hours) and another group will do the seminar remotely on MS TEAMS (12 hours), for a total of 28 hours for each student. Students are required to carefully read the assigned material before the session and - in the case of seminars - active participation through presentations of existing scholarship and case studies will also be expected. Regardless of the health-related conditions and the specific organization of the course, students will be able to follow the lessons of the entire course remotely on MS TEAMS.

This course introduces students to humanitarian and social communication, and discusses how social problems are constructed and represented. Students are encouraged to think critically about the readings and the material provided in class. This course is meant to expand the students’ conceptual frameworks and to develop their ability to critically engage with media representations and narratives of crisis, development and social change. The course will discuss how humanitarian issues and crises have been historically publicized through the media, and examine the challenges posed to humanitarian organization by the advent of digital media. 

WEEK 1 (Online for all students)
The Construction of social problems

WEEK 2 (Online for all students)
Poverty porn and the construction of the suffering

WEEK 3 (Online for all students)
Deserving VS Underserving victims: humanitarianism in crisis

WEEK 4 (Online for group A) 
Seminar 1

WEEK 5 (Offline for group B)
Seminar 1

WEEK 6 (Online for group A) 
Seminar 2

WEEK 7 (Offline for group B)
Seminar 2

WEEK 8 (Online for group A) 
Seminar 3

WEEK 9 (Offline for group B)
Seminar 3

WEEK 10 (Online for all students)


Required readings for ALL students (attending and NOT attending):

Boltanski, L. (2000): The Legitimacy of Humanitarian Actions and their Media Representations: The Case of France. Ethical Perspectives, 7(1), pp. 3-16

Chouliaraki, L., (2008). The Mediation of Suffering and the Vision of a Cosmopolitan Public. Television & New media, 9(5), pp. 371/391

Chouliaraki, L., Stolic, T., (2017). Rethinking media responsability in the refugee crisis. A visual typology of European news. Media, Culture & Society, 39(8), PP. 1162-1177

Hilgartner, S., Bosk, C.L. (1988). The Rise and Fall of Social Problems. American Journal of Sociology, 94, pp. 53-78

Jansen, T., (2014). Welfare Commonsense, Poverty pron and Doxosophy" Sociological Research Online, 19 (3)

Lefebvre, R. C., (2012). Transformative Social Marketing: Co-creating the social marketing discipline and brand. Journal of Social Marketing, 2 (2), pp. 118-129

Manzo, K., (2008) Imagining humanitarianism: Ngo identity and the iconography of childhood. Antipode, 40(4), pp. 632-657

Mitchell, K., (2016). Celebrity humanitarianism, transnational emotion and the rise of neoliberal citizenship. Global networks, 16(3), pp. 288-306

Silverstone, R. (2002). Complicity and collusion in the mediation of everyday life. New Literary History 33(4): 761-780

von Engelhardt, J., Jansz, J., (2014). Challenging humanitarian communication: an empirical exploration of "Kony 2012". The International Communication Gazette, p. 1-21

Wolf, B. (2013). Gender-based violence and the challenge of visual representation. Comunicació: revista de recerca i d'anàlisi, 193-216.



Additional required readings for NON ATTENDING students/ Suggested readings for attending students

Borum Chattoo, C., Feldmann, L., (2017). Storytelling for social change: leveraging documentary and comedy for public engagement in global poverty". Journal of Communication, 67(5), pp. 678-701

Brooker, R., et al. (2015). Debating poverty porn on twitter: social media as a place for everyday socio-political talk. CHI '15 Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2015. Association for Computing Machinery, New York, U. S. A., pp. 3177-3186.

Lalli, P., in collaboration with Galicic, A., & Minoia, G., (2007). Communication for development: new paradigms?. The World Congress on Communication for Development, Rome, October 25-27 2006 Published in DvdBook, Washington, World Bank, Communication Initiative.

Mendes, K., Ringrose, J., & Keller, J. (2018). #MeToo and the promise and pitfalls of challenging rape culture through digital feminist activism. European Journal of Women's Studies, 25(2), 236-246.

Ponte, S., Richey, L.A., & Baab, M. (2009). Bono’s Product (RED) Initiative: corporate social responsibility that solves the problems of “distant others”. Third World Quarterly, 30(2), pp. 301-318

Shildrick, T., (2018). Lessons from Grenfell: Poverty propaganda, stigma and class power. The Sociological Review Monographs, 66(4), pp. 783–798

Metodi didattici

Active learning is an important part of this course. Some days I will lecture for much of the class, however, on most days, I will expect the class to engage actively in the discussion of the readings and of the media texts that we will have the opportunity to examine together.

Modalità di verifica dell'apprendimento

Attending students

Individual or group presentation…………….20%

Term Paper.........................................30%

Final exam……………………………………………….50%

Individual or group presentation

Students will be responsible for participating in a group/individual presentation over a topic of interest. In particular students will be asked to critically engage in the analysis of a social communication campaign, or to design a campaign over a topic of their choice. A substantial use of class materials and readings is expected for this assignment. There will be space for an interactive dialogue with the rest of the class after each presentation. The presentations will be scheduled by the end of the semester. More details on the assignment will be given later in the course.

Term paper

The final paper is intended to provide students with the opportunity to fully explore their favorite topic and to examine it from a more empirical perspective. The paper should incorporate course material (textbook, lectures, and/or discussion) as well as students own opinions and reflections in order to provide a depth analysis of an example of your choice.

The aim of the class is to think critically about humanitarian and social communication, as well as to reflect on how social problems are constructed and represented, so this is the opportunity for students to think through what they have learned in greater depth.

Please be aware that the final paper is not intended to be a collage of comments that other people had made about the topic of choice. Moreover, despite the importance of anyone’s own understanding/analysis of the topic, please also consider that the term paper is intended to be an academic paper, and as such students should look at the media with a scholarly eye.

Students should incorporate at least four (4) of the readings from this class. A modest number of follow up readings could also, of course, be useful.

On a technical level, the paper should be 5 to 8 pages long, 12 pt. font Time New Roman and 1.5 spaced (approx. 2500-4000 words). I expect that the paper will have a clear structure and that they will be free from basic errors.

The paper is due on the last day of class. You must sent me an electronic copy of your paper (via email) and provide me with a hard copy of your work on that exact day.

Final exam

The final exam will be on all the required readings for attending students.

NB: Attendance and class participation

Attendance is strongly encouraged and expected. Students are expected to read the assigned chapters or material prior to class and participate in class discussion. Ask questions, be curious!

Students who will actively engage in the discussion throughout the year and during the individual or group presentations will be attributed 1pt (1/30) on top of their final grade.



Students that are NOT attending classes:

Term Paper.........................................30%

Written exam………………………..70%

Term paper

See above: same indications as for students attending class apply.

Paper is due on the day of the exam. You must sent me an electronic copy of your paper (via email) and provide me with a hard copy of your work.

Final exam

The final exam will be on all the readings.

Strumenti a supporto della didattica

Lectures, slides, video, websites, reports, case studies

Orario di ricevimento

Consulta il sito web di Chiara Gius