Queen’s University of Charlotte Master Plan for Knight Grant

James L. Knight

In 2010, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced a transformative $5.75 million gift to Queens University, to endow the James L. Knight School of Communication.

On August 19, 2011, Zenzele Barnes and Sophia Newman will walk through the doorway of the James L. Knight School of Communication and into their college careers. As our first Knight Scholars, we seek to bestir these two freshmen into an awareness of their own conditions, so that they may find inspiration and pursue their true interests. We and they cannot see the exact details of their future growth and service, but we have a plan for how it will unfold.

Zenzele and Sophia live in a digital cocoon. Born in 1993 at the dawn of the Internet revolution, they are always current and always connected. We hope to fill them with the liberal arts, teach them how to lead a noble life, and help them explore ways to serve others in our community by deeply understanding, embracing and sharing digital and media literacy. That means knowing how to leave the cocoon, and how to find, evaluate, consume, create, share and act on trustworthy information and messages that enable us all to lead our best lives.

We are building an iterative system with three constituencies – students, community and the emerging field. As our professors and students learn about and explore how to improve digital and media literacy, they will find opportunities in the Charlotte community to serve, to connect and to build fruitful partnerships. Through our new website and our work outside our walls, those who need us and can use us will find willing friends. As well, we seek to engage the emerging national field of digital and media literacy service and learning. Each year, we will host a conference to discuss the best ideas and practices, and share that on the website and a journal.

As we chronicle the story of one community‘s quest to increase digital and media literacy through civic engagement, we recognize that the power of the system is in the sharing and scaling of the learning. When we find tools or opportunities or insights that add value, we will talk about them, describing what is working and what can be improved.

For Jim Knight, for Margie Crane, for Zenzele and Sophia, and for all of ―the people, we have built this Plan 1.0 for our school, hoping that all of us can see ourselves in it. We cannot see the exact details of the future growth and service, but we know it is there.