Plans for the future of a prospective new form of a journalism program school are progressing and CU is encouraging students and faculty to make suggestions as to what that future should look like.
An open forum was presented by representatives of the Information, Communication, Journalism, Media and Technology (ICJMT) Steering Committee at 5 p.m. on Wednesday in the UMC. The discussion was designed to inform community members about where the ICJMT currently stands and to allow the community’s concerns and ideas to be expressed.
Jeff Cox, associate vice chancellor for faculty affairs, initiated the forum and said prospective plans for what may be a new school or college for the education of journalism are not yet complete, and it is still being discussed what the curriculum would be.
“We don’t know in any definitive way where we’re headed,” Cox said. “We’re largely here to make sure that we hear from you about any ideas or concerns that may not have entered into the process yet. We have kept this process as open and as fluid as possible.”
What he hoped the community members would take away, Cox said, is that the tentative school or college will be innovative in that it will combine interdisciplinary focuses in order to prepare students for where journalism and mass communication are progressing.
“I think what we’ll be seeing is that [students] will get an education on a broader model, keeping with the Journalism Plus program,” Cox said. “They’ll be getting this education in the context of greater opportunities to learn about the technologies that they need to stay on board and they’ll do so alongside other kinds of practitioners from documentary filmmakers to bloggers to fiction writers.”
Cox said the committee explored such fields as the role of technology in communication, advertising and design, and journalism’s relationship with science and the environment.
The committee is comprised of five faculty representatives of different academic backgrounds and includes Katherine Eggert, Michael Theodore, Leysia Palen, Tim Brown and Andrew Calabrese.
Andrew Calabrese, professor and director of Graduate Studies, and chair of the committee, said that the CU community has expressed some fear that the art of journalism will be lost within the proposed interdisciplinary ICJMT plan.
“My impressions from all that I’ve heard over the last several months is that there’s equal if not greater anxiety among those who might be interested in this college about the possibility that this will be nothing but ‘old wine, new bottles’, that it’ll be a new J-School with a different name,” Calabrese said. “But it needs to be taken into consideration alongside the concerns, the anxieties, among the faculty and students in the former School of Journalism and Mass Communication, of which I am a member, that there are a lot of people who have the opposite concern.”
Calabrese said that project-centered learning is a prominent theme in the discussions of the committee, to stimulate involvement with students in various fields of study such as video production, statistical analysis and graphic design.
“So many creative occupations are in flux right now because stable, so called ‘legacy’ industry models are enduring a significant transformation due to migration from analog to digital media,” Calabrese said. “If we fail to address the question of how do people make sustained livings in this new media environment and we’re only teaching them the skills with no clear direction to manage their lives and careers, we wouldn’t be doing a full service.”
Program discontinuance for the School of Journalism an Mass Communication was announced by the Chancellor DiStefano in September 2010, at which time he asked Provost Moore to open an exploratory committee to look at news ways in which education and other academic opportunities could be provided in the journalism field.
In the first phase of the planning process, eight discussion groups were designated to collect feedback and recommendations from various faculties. The findings were presented to the steering committee, guided by Merrill Lessley of the ICT Exploratory Committee and AVC Jeff Cox.
In the second phase, the steering committee will submit a collective recommendation to the provost on March 23 on how CU should move forward with plans for the new journalism program entity. The provost will then report to the Board of Regents.
“Until all of this is approved by the Board of Regents, we cannot go forward,” Cox said. “So we have to put ourselves in a position to put together proposals for the Board of Regents and put them together in such a way and such a time to have success.”
The next step, Cox said, would be to start putting together curricula and assemble a faculty. He said he hopes that the process would move quickly enough that students would be admitted into the new school by fall 2013, and for the possibility of a new building to house the prospective program.
Few students were in attendance of the forum, although a number of faculty and community members came with questions and concerns for the committee.
Abraham Chavez, a 21-year-old senior psychology major, said that the formation of a more innovative school for journalism might attract more students to CU.
“I think that it would help students to keep ahead since so much of journalism is moving away from the paper and it’s going online,” Chavez said. “I think that it would help keep CU students competitive with other journalism schools.”
Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Nora Keating at Nora.firstname.lastname@example.org.