Alma College has approved a New Media Studies major that will prepare students for work in emerging forms of media digital information and technology — from audio and visual arts to social media to gaming and simulation to e-text and Web publication.

Up to 15 new students may join the program annually, says Joanne Gilbert, chair of Alma College’s Communication and New Media Studies Department.

In the past, students who have majored in communication at Alma have shown a strong interest in the media area of the major. In addition, many students have completed a self-designed “program of emphasis” in new media, says Gilbert.

“In the rapidly changing media landscape, a New Media Studies major not only has a certain allure, but it’s a necessity,” she says. “It’s incumbent upon educational institutions to prepare their graduates not only be savvy consumers and users of new media, but also to be creative producers of it.”

The major prepares students both for graduate study and for work in media industries including graphic design, audio and visual arts, social media, gaming and simulation, e-text and Web publication and instructional technology.

“This program has a lot of potential because it provides our students with tools and abilities that will serve them in their college careers and beyond,” says Gilbert.

In addition to exposing students to the theory and practice of emerging forms of media, digital information and technology, the major offers students hands-on experience. As is the case for communication students, New Media Studies majors must complete a required internship.

“We believe strongly that students need to take their skill-set and conceptual foundation outside the classroom and actively apply them in a professional context,” Gilbert said. “It provides an important experience for them.”

The New Media Studies major also shares another similarity with the communication major: an interdisciplinary nature. With core courses in visual design, digital audio and video, and media programming and computation, it integrates media history, theory, research and law with applied project work.

“The New Media Studies major speaks to the mission of the liberal arts education, which is to forge connections among disciplines and show students that knowledge does not exist in a vacuum,” Gilbert said. “I’m extremely excited about this development.”


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