Matthew Park

In the Spring of 2017, Whittier College introduced new media-intensive courses to the curriculum that have been generally well-received by the college community. 

The new courses that have been introduced include Intro to Media Studies, Intro to Game Design, and History and Functions of the World Wide Web. By adding these courses, not only do students have the opportunity to learn more about media, but it seems that the College is headed towards establishing a Media Studies major. 

“The proposal for the Media and Digital Studies major was not approved, but we’re working on proposing a minor,” said Digital Scholar Anne Cong-Huyen. “There does seem to be a demand and need for this on campus, and we’d like to offer students a cohesive course of study here on campus.” 

Prior to implementing these courses, student options to explore media was limited. Possible options included getting involved with student organizations such as The Quaker Campus (QC), The Whittier College Sports Network (WCSN), Video Production Studios (VPS), QCTV, and KPOET Radio. Students could also take courses like Digital Journalism, Digital Anthropology, Introduction to Computer Systems, and Artificial Intelligence, Computer Vision, and Cognition. The introduction of these media courses were part of a failed effort to create a Media and Digital Studies major at Whittier.

DigLibArts is the department that introduced the new classes, which have received positive feedback from students. “I heard about [Intro to Media Studies] and I was very interested because it seemed to be a good fit of a class based on my field of interest (Business Marketing and Digital Art),” said first-year Bella Mejos. “Media has become a really important part of marketing in today’s day and age because of the prevalence of the internet and publication through media.”

From a faculty standpoint, Cong-Huyen, who teaches Intro to Media Studies, has also noticed an overall positive reaction to these courses.  “Enrollment has been high, and students have been engaged,” said Cong-Huyen. “As with any new courses, there are challenges, but so far things seem positive.”

Although it appears Media Studies will not become a major anytime soon, they are still building up the program and there has been discussion about adding more classes. “These are departments responding to the needs of their students and faculty members teaching in their areas of expertise,” said Cong-Huyen. “We’ll continue to offer the classes that we can and we’d like to offer more, but those will depend on factors such as faculty committee approval, etc.” Providing intro courses offers a solid foundation for DigLibArts to expand on.

The new media-focused courses serve to benefit all students, regardless of their major. “Students encounter, engage with, and produce media on a daily basis, and many feel that it’s important that students have training to critically engage with that media, to view it in a longer history, and to get those disciplinary foundations,” said Cong-Huyen. “We also have a good number of WSP students interested in the field, so it’s important for them to have this background. Really, every student should have the skills taught in these courses!”