Renee Hobbs

Hobbs informal 2011 best.png

Renee Hobbs is Professor and Founding Director of the Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island, a new communication school that brings together the departments and programs in Journalism, Film/Media, Communication Studies, Public Relations, Writing & Rhetoric and a graduate program in Library and Information Studies, with 1300 undergrads, 200 grads and more than 60 fulltime faculty. Supported by a generous gift by Dick Harrington, former CEO of Thomson/Reuters, Renee Hobbs is helping the faculty to create a new school of national distinction, charged with the mission of using the power of communication and digital media to make a difference in the world.

About Renee Hobbs. Professor Hobbs is one of the nation's leading authorities on media literacy education. Through community and global service and as a researcher, teacher, advocate and media professional, Hobbs has worked to advance the quality of digital and media literacy education in the United States and around the world. With her colleague Julie Coiro, she developed the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy, a week-long summer professional development program for K-12 and college faculty, librarians and media professionals. She founded the Media Education Lab, whose mission is to improve the quality of media literacy education through research and community service. In the early 1990s, she created the first national teacher education program in media literacy, the Harvard Institute on Media Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Research. Renee Hobbs maintains an active research agenda that examines the intersections of the fields of media studies and education. She has published dozens of articles in scholarly journals in three fields: communication, education and health. She is the founding co-editor of the Journal for Media Literacy Education, an open-access peer reviewed journal. Her current work with European colleague Dr. Silke Grafe of Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany examines teacher motivations for integrating digital tools and media literacy concepts into the curriculum. She has developed and validated measures of media literacy competencies for adolescents. Now she is exploring how young children activate media literacy competencies in formal and information learning through developing  the Powerful Voices for Kids program, which she developed in collaboration with the Russell Byers Charter School. She recently published Discovering Media Literacy: Digital Media and Popular Culture in Elementary School with her former student and colleague David Cooper Moore. Her book, Digital and Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom offers portraits of how secondary educators integrate critical thinking and communication skills across the curriculum. Her book, Copyright Clarity: How Fair Use Supports Digital Learning helps teachers understand copyright law as it applies to the use of digital media in education. Reading the Media: Media Literacy in High School English provides the first large-scale empirical evidence of the impact of media literacy education on reading comprehension skills. She also co-authored Elements of Language, the first secondary English language arts textbook to incorporate media literacy. Hobbs also offers program evaluation services for multimedia education with clients including PBS Student Reporting Labs and Project Look Sharp at Ithaca College.

Teaching. Hobbs offers graduate and undergraduate courses in mass media, children and adolescence, digital and media literacy education, youth media culture, and educational multimedia production. She supervises graduate students in the fields of media studies and education. Hobbs uses inquiry learning practices and emphasizes the role of students as content creators through digital multimedia. She is an experienced teacher educator and offers staff development programs to educators all across the United States and around the world. 

Advocacy. Renee Hobbs works to increase visibility for digital and media literacy at the national level. In 2012, she served as a Fellow for the American Library Association Office of Information Technology Policy. As a field-builder, she helped found the Partnership for Media Education, which evolved into the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), the national membership organization for media literacy. She has sought exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to advance the benefits of digital learning for all teachers and students. She is also active in helping educators understand their rights and responsibilities when using mass media, popular culture and digital media in education. Her white paper, Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action offers a blueprint of pragmatic actions to bring these competencies to all Americans. It was released in Washington D.C. in November, 2010 and published by the Aspen Institute and the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy.

Community and Global Service. With her colleagues at the Media Education Lab, Hobbs developed Powerful Voices for Kids, a university-school partnership that offers a comprehensive program for K-12 schools including a summer enrichment program for children, staff development program, hands-on mentoring and curriculum development, and parent and community outreach. She has worked in Italy, the Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, France and China to help bring media literacy education to students and teachers worldwide.  She partnered with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations to explore how media literacy can promote mulicultural understanding, particularly of the peoples and cultures of the Middle East. 

Media Production. Renee Hobbs is a multimedia producer and has developed numerous award-winning resources for K-12 students and educators that help develop digital and media literacy competencies. Assignment: Media Literacy was developed with support from the Maryland State Department of Education and the Discovery Channel. With support from the U.S. Office on Women's Health, she created My Pop Studio, an award-winning online edutainment game that introduces tween girls to media literacy concepts and takes girls "behind the scenes" of popular music, television, magazines, and online media. She also created an online education program for integrating social media into the teaching of the 2008 Presidential election, with support from PBS Teachers.  Access, Analyze, Act: A Blueprint for 21st Century Civic Engagement is an interactive website for teachers designed to strengthen their ability to use social media tools developed by the PBS community. Her documentary video, Tuning in to Media, won the Parent's Choice Award in 1994.

Renee Hobbs received an Ed.D in Human Development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, an M.A. in Communication from the University of Michigan, and a B.A. with a double major in English Literature and Film/Video Studies from the University of Michigan.

Click here to access her current CV and read more about her early work to develop the field of media literacy education. View a video interview with her aobut her leadership in media literacy.

Renee offers presentations, keynote addresses, workshops and seminars. Contact Renee directly at or phone (401)874-2110 for more information.