The way media, journalism and film studies courses are organized and offered to students at Miami University is changing dramatically.
University Senate adopted a resolution at their meeting April 8 that will allow for the combination of the communication, journalism and film studies programs into one new department called the Media, Journalism and Film (MJF) Department, according to meeting minutes.
According to Howard Kleiman, chair of the Department of Communication and member of the organization committee for the new department, the new department structure has been created after roughly four years of formal planning and results will be beneficial for students.
“It’s meant to encompass all of the different aspects of each of the included programs,” Kleiman said.
The new MJF Department will encompass existing programs, as well as bring on curriculum changes according to Kleiman.
He said the MJF course book for the class of 2017 shows the new curriculum requires only COM 143 before taking other courses within a department major.
The current mass communication major will be referred to as Media and Culture under the new department and the new curriculum will remove the three formal focus areas of media production, media criticism and media industries.
The existing strategic communication and journalism majors will keep their current names and will no longer have a pre-major status, according to Kleiman.
The new requirements will allow more open entry into any major or minor within the department.
“We wanted to be inclusive, it was always hard to turn people away from communication programs,” Kleiman said. “The reason for having closed [entry] in the past was pragmatic, it wasn’t kind to take everyone if they couldn’t get the classes they needed.”
According to Richard Campbell, the interim chair for the MJF Department and the only applicant for the new department chair position of the new program, removing the requirements may cause a rise in enrollment to media related majors, but it should not affect students’ ability to register for required classes.
“The Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences has ensured that our resources will grow with registration rates,” Campbell said. “Media majors have always been popular and will continue to be popular. That will never change.”
Under the MJF Department, students will need to have either a second major or two minors that are outside of the department and will also need to meet the Miami Plan requirements according to Campbell.
The MJF Department expects more changes to come. A Comparative Media Studies (CMS) Major is in future plans, according to Kleiman. The co-major is not yet officially approved, but is nearing the final stages of the approval process, according to Ronald Becker, comparative media studies professor and a member on the planning committee.
This major would be an interdisciplinary approach to the study of media. Students would self-design their sequence of courses from departments across the university, according to Becker.
Becker said he feels the comparative media studies program will offer a great new opportunity for students.
“It will give people the opportunity to get involved with media and media technologies in a new way,” Becker said. “Students will be able to take advantage of many different courses that can be applied in different ways.”
Also in future plans is a film studies major. The current film studies program is offered only as a minor now because of the expense associated with film equipment, according to Becker. He said before offering a film studies major, the department will need to do more research about student interest and availability of faculty and equipment resources.
He said a significant benefit to the MJF Department will be communication and collaboration which will lead to an increase in innovation for student and faculty alike.
“Innovation happens when people come together to share what they’re doing,” Becker said. “It’s going to bring together the various media programs and will strengthen existing connections.”
Kleiman said during the shift to the new program, it will be important for students to pay attention to the coming changes.
“I don’t think it will be hard to for anyone,” Kleiman said. “The challenge is for us to get the word out and have students stay on top of their own requirements.”