Global Media: A Non-TEDx Talk


The Global Media Cultures course is organized around three or four central issues (e.g. nationalism, mapping, languages, migration, labor). This final project allows students to focus on the issue they found most interesting and asks them to translate what they’ve learned into a public-facing activity. The assignment serves to both summarize the content learned and reinforce the value of these ideas to publics beyond the classroom.

Assignment Prompt.

Imagine that you are participating in a round table at a media and technology conference whose topic is Media in the 21st Century. Attendees include business people, political leaders, media personalities, educators, and academics from around the world. You have been tasked with speaking to the question,

“What is the most pressing issue in media and globalization studies today?”

Write a position paper responding to this question as you would deliver it at the conference. Your paper should include a brief summary and critical analysis of at least three authors that we read in the course. Consider the following aspects:

  • How do these authors theorize globalization? What are its key features and problems?
  • What about the arguments made by these authors do you find most persuasive? Why?
  • Why is the issue you have identified the most pressing? What do different authors say about it? Do they follow on or contradict mainstream ideas about the issue?
  • Out of the types of attendees described above, which are your target audience? How would you make these ideas intelligible to this audience?

Finally, introduce a clip from any of the media we watched in class (including films, documentaries, music videos, interviews) to support and illustrate your argument. How would you frame this clip? What context do you need to provide? Let your audience know which aspects in particular they should pay attention to (camerawork, costumes, language, etc.) and why these are important. Provide a brief textual analysis of these aspects — again, think about how to make these clear to an audience that includes non-specialists.

Remember this is a Non-TEDx Talk. As a genre, TED Talks follow the same pattern: describing a social problem and proposing an innovation (e.g. a new technology or idea) as the solution. As a result, these talks privilege “quick fixes” and presuppose that the solution to the problem does not already exist. Your job is to follow the same pattern of presentation (problem —> possible solution) but to resist proposing a “quick fix.” Instead, focus on what is missing from the discussion and how media studies can contribute to it.


Earlier in the course, we cover the conventions of a TED talk script, including the ideologies behind solutionism and optimism.

I distribute the assignment prompt three weeks before it is due. Students are encouraged, but not required, to meet with me to discuss the topic they wish to address.