Santiago, Quito, Athens, Kampala and Shanghai.

Innovating Grassroots Diplomacy in the Digital Age: An international multimedia collaborative storytelling experiment, connecting global cities

A project by Andrea Miño — Betty Tsakarestou — linyan — Sara Namusoga — Patricio Contreras

Cities in the 21st century are gradually becoming empowered as economic and political power shifts to cities and mega-cities outside the West. As such, cities aim at making a positive impact on their citizens’ lives by becoming more livable and trustworthy, using a form of citizen diplomacy that aims at shared prosperity using bottom-up policies based on open communication, acceptance, mutual respect, shared resources and responsibilities. This is made easier by digital media, which engages citizens through the innovative use of collaborative networks, social media, multimedia and crowdsourcing ideas.

Digital media has changed many aspects of our lives, especially the way people get to know about what is happening outside their world. For most people, what they know about another city is mainly from the perspective of big institutions, be it government or mainstream media. And yet, as we grow up as global citizens in our digital and networked age, we aspire to go beyond the “official mediated narratives” to get richer and diverse images of our neighbors who share this fragile and changing world with us. Digital and social media has provided the possibility and the means for more personal and human communication to occur across borders, and to have an impact on co-creating the complex and fluid understanding of our shared age.

#ConnectingCities is a multimedia collaborative storytelling experiment, designed as a platform for innovating grassroots diplomacy in the digital age, by five communication and journalism professors, connecting young leading student communicators in five cities, in four continents.

The connected teams of professors and students in the five participating cities see themselves as voluntary citizen diplomats voicing and sharing their stories and providing diverse contexts for different aspects of their cities’ lives and challenges. The aim is to connect and engage their cities, interact with other citizens and be more open to directly and honestly share their different urban stories with the rest of the world.

This international city-diplomacy multiplatform storytelling experiment program has the potential to provide and validate emerging innovative practices initiated mostly by young leading communicators and journalists, with real world impact across participating global cities across continents.

Project Co-Initiators and coordinators

Betty Tsakarestou, PhD, Assistant Professor and Head of ADandPRLAB, Panteion University, Athens, Greece.

Patricio Contreras, Escuela de Periodismo, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Santiago, Chile.

linyan, SISU, Shanghai, China.

Andrea Miño V., Universidad de Las Américas, Quito, Ecuador.

Sara Namusoga, PhD Fellow, Uganda Christian University, Mukono, Kampala, Uganda.