Big Changes Coming to Communication and Media Studies Department


The major and minor will be divided into two more specified areas of study, which may affect recently declared students.

What began as one major with two informal tracks will now become one Media Studies major and minor, and a separate Digital Arts major and minor. Current Communication and Media Studies majors may have heard about changes to the undergraduate program from professors and peers, but no official announcement has been released. 

Department Chair and Media Studies Professor Danny Kimball was interviewed to gain further insight and to clarify any confusion students may have. Kimball, firstly, will continue to act as the department chair–there will not be a new department made for Digital Arts, but there will be different requirements and courses than Media Studies. “We’re adding something new that builds on what we’ve been doing, but expands it into its own thing,” Kimball said concerning the work in digital media production that has long been taught within the department. 

As for the ‘communication’ aspect of ‘communication and media studies,’ the label will no longer be relevant. Kimball, as mentioned previously, already teaches classes in the area of Media Studies, which has a greater focus in journalism, writing, and analysis. Referring to the complete switch away from ‘communications’ to solely ‘media studies’, Kimball said, “We feel it reflects more accurately what we’re doing in the department. [Communication] implies a field of communications, which is more social scientific and focused on human and interpersonal communication. We have elements of that here, but it’s really more focused on communication through media.” 

For students who decide to take the Digital Arts path, most film, television, and production classes previously offered under the Communications and Media Studies department will still be available. This includes courses on screenwriting, Public Relations, digital filmmaking, and graphic design. For students who have already declared a Communication and Media Studies major, things will remain exactly the same for students who choose the Media Studies path.

If one would rather major in Digital Arts, current Communications and Media Studies majors will have to re-declare as a Digital Arts major. When registering for classes, the new prefix for Media Studies courses will be MDS, and DIG or ART/DIG for Digital Arts. Current Communication and Media Studies majors who have completed COM 105 will still be able to transfer these credits over to qualify for the Digital Arts major. COM 105 will count in place of the new intro class for Digital Arts, DIG 103. 

Sonja Bozic, Assistant Professor who teaches classes surrounding digital filmmaking, digital production, and writing for digital media, was interviewed to gather more information concerning the new Digital Arts major. “We’re adding these new media classes that expand and extend the type of storytelling we can do. It’s a more disciplinary approach, a mix of filmmaking, storytelling, design thinking, and also marketing and franchising.” Bozic claimed that this will be for students who want to take part in more creative projects for their capstones, and to focus on the media production process, including websites, podcasts, and documentaries. As for the fact that the new Media Studies major is described as providing more traditional journalism-based classes, Bozic clarified, “[There are] a lot of new journalistic-based projects where people are using virtual reality, augmented reality–it’s kind of present in the media landscape, so for journalism students, it’s still very valuable because you get to expand your skill set and journalism approach.” Digital Arts will still have that focus around journalism and around ‘communication’, but will teach students more ways to do this within the landscape of changing technology and shifting methods of media consumption. Some of the new Digital Arts classes soon to be available are Immersive Narratives in XR, Storytelling Across Media, and Producing Digital Media. 

When asked when a formal announcement will be released, Department Chair Danny Kimball said that the change is still being processed with the registrar, but the curriculum has been approved and will be in effect the coming spring semester this academic year. Kimball also noted that there will be a  Media Arts and Studies department Digital Arts kickoff party on October 18th, which all prospective or current majors and minors are encouraged to attend. He encourages anyone with unanswered questions or interest in the programs to reach out to him. 

By Sam Rose ’26

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