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Ethical Photography & Community-Engaged Global Learning

Tool Objectives: 

1.To develop participants’ understanding of globally accepted standards in ethical photography.

2. To expand capacities to represent host community members with dignity and integrity.

3. To cultivate awareness of and abstention from the use of photographs that potentially stereotype, sensationalize or discriminate against people, situations or places.

4. To ensure that all images, messages, and case studies are presented with full understanding, participation, and permission of the subjects (or the subjects’ parents/guardians).

Tool Description: 

As community-engaged global education, volunteerism, and service-learning increase so does the sharing of these experiences, often through photographs. This tool demonstrates key components and important ethical considerations for photography involving host community members. Students will be exposed to core commitments of ethical photography. Students will learn to consider their photographic portrayals as a process of cooperation and mutual learning with community members. This tool is applicable for any global education program in which students will be asked to represent their experiences ethically, intentionally, and in accordance with globally accepted standards of best practice.

Tool Procedures: 

1. Students should be required to read the following texts prior to departure:

2. To prepare for class discussion, have students find examples of violations of the codes of conduct within recent media portrayals of the host country or community. These examples could be from mainstream media, development organizations, or even university or study abroad portrayals. Use the Dóchas reading excerpt, “Summary of Key Issues” (p. 34), to guide the conversation. Explicitly consider how these violations create misperceptions and misdirected actions, along with how that leads to tangible harms, and how they could have been avoided.

3. During immersion, each week have students write or otherwise share a short reflection on one of their photographs that they believe illustrates ethical photography. Each reflection should mention 2 or 3 standards that the photograph upholds.

4. After immersion, ask students to present the picture they believe simultaneously upholds the highest level of ethical photography and is the most accurate depiction of their immersion experience.

Optional Readings.

Tool Evaluation: 

Details of each assignment should be written into the course syllabus and account for a predetermined course grade percentage.  Grading should be based on completion of the assignment as specified. 

Tool Time Requirement: 

At least one class session during pre-departure and regular (e.g., weekly), brief reflections during immersion.

Tool Author(s): 

E. Hartman & O. Harding, 2015

Tool Handouts [.doc or .docx]: 

Site copyright 2012, University of Kentucky, Education Abroad.
Toolkit Authors: Duarte Morais, Ph.D., Anthony C. Ogden, Ph.D., & Christine Buzinde, Ph.D.
More information about the toolkit authors.

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