Locating UNESCO in the historical study of communication
No international organization has influenced the development, distribution, and globalization of communication studies as a scholarly discipline in its formative years more than the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Established in 1945 amid the destruction of World War II to serve as the intellectual arm of the United Nations, UNESCO was tasked with the responsibility of handling the mental, philosophical, and psychological aspects of peacemaking in a post-war world. In the view of UNESCO’s founders, part of the challenge in achieving these objectives were a series of communication problems. In the first few paragraphs of UNESCO’s constitution, signed on November 16, 1945, one finds references to the importance of the “diffusion of culture” and of the need for member-states “to develop and to increase the means of communication between their peoples and to employ these means for the purposes of mutual understanding and a truer and more perfect knowledge of each other’s lives” (UNESCO 1945). Better communication, then, would be part of any program of post-war stability. UNESCO’s first Director-General, Julian Huxley, considered mass media in the same breath as libraries and museums, “as servicing agencies for man’s higher activities, which offer new technical opportunities to the scientist, the artist, and the educator” (Huxley 1948: 70).
Wagman, I. (2016). Locating UNESCO in the historical study of communication. In The International History of Communication Study, Edited By Peter Simonson, David W. Park, Routledge 2016. Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781315727738