IFLA Information Literacy Satellite conference held in Limerick, Ireland, Critical Information Literacy for the Development of Political Agency, was presented by Lauren Smith (The University of Strathclyde Glasgow, Scotland, UK). Again, I have blogged something about this research-in-progress before. The starting point was the apparent disengagement of young people from the political process (however it is evident that young people are caring and taking action, but not necessarily through traditional channels). Thus a focus on critical theory and critical pedagogy and exploring how information literacy, and libraries, could foster and engage critical awareness and activism. Smith is using phenomenography to uncover the different ways in which young people experience politics and their relationship with information in that context.
Data collection methods included repertory grid interviews, focus groups, and observation of classes. Just as a few insights, the participants had widely varying attitudes to politics and they used a variety of sources, with people sources very important. The participants did not all appear to understand the political background of different media, although some of them did show awareness of media bias. Discourse around media might focus more on how the participant felt about it (e.g. was it depressing).
At the end Smith presented about some emerging themes and how this connected with critical theory and its application in teaching and learning. Therefore her research could help in more effective teaching to encourage political awareness and agency. Smith's blog is at http://www.laurensmith.wordpress.com
Photo by Sheila Webber: on a boat tour, Galway, August 2014