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New classes, curriculum for Communications in fall 2013

By Ashwini Natarajan, Daily Staff Reporter
Published February 6, 2013

Students planning to major in communications will be initiated into the department’s new redesigned curriculum, which has a focus on new modes of thinking smaller class sizes and a less onerous application process.

In response to changes in the field, a result of the vast integration of communication technology into everyday life, the University’s Communication Studies Department has renovated its curriculum.

The department last updated its curriculum in 1995. Since then, it has has tripled in size and the scope of faculty research and teaching has broadened to accompany increasingly globalized media.

Department chair Susan Douglas said the new curriculum was designed to be more standardized.

“We felt that the organization of our curriculum wasn’t as coherent as it should it be,” Douglas said.

The redesign is, in part, focused on giving concentrators a more global understanding of the media.

“We want to expand students global horizons and not just focus on America,” Douglas said.

Associate Communications Prof. Amanda Lotz said an overhaul was necessary because the field of media has increased in relevancy.

“(The old curriculum) was before a lot of the media that was central to our lives had been created,” Lotz said. “The new curriculum updates our offerings and incorporates aspects into our regular curriculum which were often special topics that were irregularly offered.”

Courses with more research-based curricula involving critical, analytical and theoretical skills will be introduced at the 200 and 300 levels −classes like Communications Revolutions, Views on the News: What Shapes our Media Content, and Media and Globalization.

“I’m most excited that the new curriculum brings quantitative and qualitative new classes that will bring together different methods of approaches,” Lotz said

In addition, newly devised 400-level classes will be limited to 18- to 20-person seminars, and more classes about the history and evolution of the media industries as well as media globalization will be added

A new prerequisite course is the nexus of these curriculum changes. This two-semester course is designed to cultivate student media literacy and give students the tools needed to analyze and deconstruct the media. Students will learn about how social scientists and humanists theorize, research and address the evolving role of mass and emerging media in society.

“We are very excited about this class because we don’t think that there is anything like it in the country,” Douglas said.

Assistant Communications Prof. Meghan Ankerson said the rapidly evolving media culture should constitute a larger part of the curriculum in order for it to have real-life applications.

“We were looking at ... how we could make this curriculum best for 21st century students who are interested in a range of careers,” Ankerson said. “We wanted to be able to provide the critical thinking skills and the background that would help (students) succeed in today’s culture.”

JoAnn Peraino, the LSA curriculum and enrollment manager, noted that the most important change to the curriculum is in the admissions process. Instead of submitting an application and application essay, applicants will be admitted solely by their GPA.

Peraino said this method of admission will speed up the application process.

LSA sophomore Emily Lisner — who is currently enrolled in the final prerequisites required to declare as a communication studies major — said she’s indifferent because she’ll be declaring at the end of this semester.

"All of my prerequisites are almost fulfilled, so for me, as far as I know, it doesn't affect me.”

LSA sophomore Jamie Koopersmith said she became aware of the curriculum change when she declared her major at the beginning of the school year.

“I don't think it's positive or negative, I think its good to get a fresh start," Koopersmith said. "It's probably a good thing that they're taking a look and modifying the curriculum to better suit students."


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