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AUT welcomes Fulbright specialist to NZ

Jeff Kelly Lowenstein is a lecturer from Columbia College in Chicago.  Photo/www.fulbright.org.nz

Jeff Kelly Lowenstein is a lecturer from Columbia College in Chicago. Photo/www.fulbright.org.nz

Fulbright Specialist Jeff Kelly Lowenstein has just spent time at AUT University, where he led a conversation about media and diversity in American society.

Kelly Lowenstein is a lecturer from Columbia College in Chicago. He drew on history, poetry, archival footage and statistics to argue that the current situation in the United States is a pivotal one that includes discussion around race and diversity, and the future direction of the nation.

According to Kelly Lowenstein, this intersection presents a strong opportunity for media to provide context and insight that can contribute to national debate and perhaps cement the financial viability of the media in society. Yet in many cases the industry is missing this opportunity, and has become more homogenous during a time when the country is growing increasingly diverse. This means those affected by inequality are instead turning to technology to push conversation and build a movement for change.

Kelly Lowenstein explains there is on ongoing gap between the lofty promises contained in the nation’s founding documents and the lived reality for many Americans. This discrepancy stems back to the nation’s founding, and has continued until today. He speaks about the fight people have gone through for rights they were initially granted in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, as well as the resistance that has arisen each time a gain has been made.

AUT students were shown examples of media pieces that addressed themes of diversity in the United States.

AUT students were shown examples of media pieces that addressed themes of diversity in the United States.

AUT students were shown examples of media pieces that addressed themes of diversity and provided valuable context to issues like the deadly shooting by police of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.  Kelly Lowenstein also spoke about the #iftheygunnedmedown hashtag that gained widespread popularity after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last year.  He advocated for media making issues of diversity a central, not peripheral, part of what it covers.

He is spending two weeks in Auckland before traveling to the University of Canterbury to work for a week with students, faculty and community members.

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