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New program in COM to include Ph.D. for 2014

Under the direction of Feld Professor of Emerging Media James Katz, Boston University’s College of Communication is developing the Division of Emerging Media Studies to prepare COM for the future of media.

“The colleges of communication that are going to be successful in the century and in the future are going to be the colleges that understand how to use emerging media technology and how to embrace it and adapt it to the curriculum that they have,” said COM Dean Tom Fiedler. “Immediately our reputation as a place where new ideas are launched will begin to rise. It really is a transformative opportunity.”

“We created the Division of Emerging Media Studies at a time when we created what is called the Feld Professor for Emerging Media,” Fiedler said. “That was the result of a gift that the Feld family gave us for that position … We wanted to create the vehicle to have it ready to go when the person who would drive that vehicle was hired.”

The division will act as a unifying factor among the three departments of COM, as well as create a doctorate program, said Kim Relick, COM strategic marketing and communication manager.

“This is an academic division, whereas a lot of the things we do in the other departments [in COM] are more about preparing for a job,” Relick said. “This program is really about thinkers and focusing on what will happen next–not just with technology, but with how people communicate.”

The program, which is targeted to begin in the fall of 2014, will concentrate on the study of communication as a social science, Relick said. The program will focus on how communication influences people and how people influence the development of emerging communications.

“A lot of what Dr. Katz has done so far is study how human beings interact with one another and how they communicate with one another,” Relick said. “When something new comes out, how does it change them and how do they change the methods of communication?”

Fiedler said COM expects to offer courses in the division of emerging media studies in September 2013.

“What we will probably do is probably build a curriculum that will be sufficient for students to even take a minor in EMS and at a minimum earn a certificate in EMS,” he said.

Katz, who joined BU during the fall 2012 semester after leaving the Rutgers University Center for Mobile Communications Studies, has three major goals in mind when he envisions the division, Relick said.

First, the goal of the division is to bring great minds together, not only from BU and COM, but from all over the world.

“His mindset is, ‘one person can’t figure this all out, I want to get the great brains together and talk about this’,” Relick said. “I think this is a good indication of how he plans for this to go forward–to always be working collaboratively with other thought leaders.”

The doctorate program is another major aspect of the division. Finally, Relick said Katz plans to create a Center for Mobile Communications Studies, which he also established at Rutgers, at BU for the ongoing study of social aspects of communication.

“He [Katz] is a thought leader in the area of emerging media,” Relick said. “The way he sees it is that not only does he spend a lot of time thinking, researching and writing about what has happened and what might happen, but he wants to pull together many other thought leaders.”

Fiedler said developing technologies play a central role in communication fields, as the popularity of Facebook and Twitter demonstrate.

In each of the three departments currently in COM, there are a number of courses that could be considered training in emerging media studies, Relick said. These courses will be part of the division, but Katz will also develop more courses with this focus.

“These courses are really supposed to engage students in what will happen next,” Relick said. “It’s not only so you know your field when you graduate, but also so you could adapt and jump into the next phase when that happens.”

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