Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Stewart Hoover

Second Advisor

Shu-Ling Berggreen

Third Advisor

Lynn Clark

Fourth Advisor

Chad Kautzer

Fifth Advisor

Janice Peck


As media literacy is a growing field, there exist a number of distinct approaches to media education with varied political significance. Approaches such as protectionism, media arts education, and critical media literacy draw upon diverse theoretical traditions. Often overlooked in these traditions is the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School. By implementing some key theoretical concepts from the work of the Frankfurt School into the design of a media education program, this project intends to test an approach to media literacy education that encourages critical political participation among young people. This program was conducted at an high school in Denver. Students engaged in Youth Participatory Action Research-oriented media education project in which they used media analysis activities to gather information on issues facing their community. They then worked in groups to create alternative media that somehow addressed these issues. The project—including the pedagogical methods and student praxis—were documented using participant observation, in-depth interviews, and journals. These materials were then analyzed to determine the relative effectiveness of the program in encouraging the development of students’ critical consciousness and civic engagement.