The 6th Annual Medium & the Light Award Conferred at the Toronto School Conference, October 16
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The 2016 Medium and the Light Award
The recipient of the sixth annual Medium and the Light Award, in recognition of the religious dimensions of the life and work of Marshall McLuhan, was presented on Sunday, October 16 in Toronto at the closing Gala Awards Dinner of the international conference, The Toronto School: Then, Now, Next held at the University of Toronto.
Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH (Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart), D. Min., a longtime media practitioner, entrepreneur, scholar and educator in Catholic communications, is the recipient of this year’s Award. She is Director of the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives and Associate Professor in the Dept. of Religious Studies, founder of the world wide Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation at the University of Dayton. Sr. Angela Ann uniquely served as mentor/academic advisor to the last (2015) recipient of the Medium and the Light Award, the late Richard J. Osicki and as mentee of the first (2011) recipient of this award, the late Fr. Pierre Babin, omi through her desire to re-imagine his Symbolic Way in light of the digital culture. This was at least in part fulfilled by her collaborative work with Fr. Babin in The Gospel in Cyberspace: Nurturing Faith in the Internet Age (2002) which culminated her 12-year association with his Centre for Research in Education and Communication (Crec Avex) in Lyon, France. Sr. Angela Ann is receiving the Medium and the Light Award particularly for her long and courageous exploration of a theology of communications that probes how media technologies may be more effectively used in faith formation to understand the Gospel in a digital age.
Sister Angela Ann Zukowski & Howard Engel
In her acceptance speech, Sr. Angela Ann spoke passionately without notes out of gratitude for her collaborative friendship with Fr. Babin and, by extension, with Marshall McLuhan whom Fr. Babin knew and interviewed personally. In light of their insights on the effects of media technologies on human beings, she also posed a challenge to all in attendance to once in a while become untethered to those technologies. They have a tendency to tie people down and even enslave them by their mesmerizing power. This is only true to the extent that people let themselves be so enslaved. She remarked that she invites her own students to go technology free and once they try it they want more time for silence, reflection and meditation.
The Award is given annually by The Marshall McLuhan Initiative at St Paul’s College, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. The University of Manitoba is Marshall McLuhan’s first post-secondary alma mater. He earned the Gold Medal in Arts for 1933 and an M.A. in English literature (1934).
The inaugural award, in 2011, was presented to the late Fr. Pierre Babin, omi (1925-2012), in Lyons, France. The unique Medium and Light obelisk statuette representing the award was unveiled by Dr. Eric McLuhan during Toronto’s McLuhan Centenary celebrations that summer. Originally conceived by the late Director of the Marshall McLuhan Initiative, Richard J. Osicki (1946-2012), and inspired by the book The Medium and the Light: Reflections on Religion by Marshall McLuhan and edited by Eric McLuhan and Jacek Szklarek (1999) was designed by The Initiative in collaboration with artist Matthew McMillan of Prairie Studio Glass, Winnipeg who uniquely recreates the glass obelisk each year.
The 2012 award was presented to Dr. Thomas W. Cooper, the distinguished professor of communications at Emerson College in Boston during the international conference “McLuhan: Social Media Between Faith and Culture” held at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto.
The 2013 award was presented to none other than Dr. Eric McLuhan, world-renowned author, lecturer and prober into all things media ecology, during the 50th Anniversary of the Opening of McLuhan’s Centre for Culture & Technology, University of Toronto.
The 2014 award was presented to Fr. John J. Pungente, S.J. and The Jesuit Communication Project (JCP) which he directs, both internationally known and award winning media literacy leaders on the occasion of JCP’s 30th anniversary and the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Marshall McLuhan’s seminal work, Understanding Media during the Media Ecology Association’s Convention in Toronto.
The 2015 award was presented posthumously to the late Richard J. Osicki (1946-2012), journalist, broadcaster, media educator and explorer in search of a theology of communications through his Master’s thesis on McLuhan and Canadian Jesuit theologian Bernard Lonergan and first director of The Marshall McLuhan Initiative on Sunday, October 18 in Hanley Hall, St. Paul’s College, University of Manitoba, at the McLuhan’s Faith and Works Conference, jointly held by the Initiative and the International Institute for the Study of Technology and Christianity, Wheaton, Illinois, on the 100th anniversary of the McLuhan family’s move to Winnipeg in 1915.
Howard R. Engel
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