Fourth-year new media student, Megan Shier, at work. PHOTO: JOSH KOLM

The new face of new media

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By Sean Wetselaar

The radio and television arts school of media (RTA) is set to take on a revamped new media program in 2013.

The current new program will be a bachelor of fine arts (BFA), and staffed by half of the existing new media program’s eight faculty members. The new media program under the school of image arts will be phased out as current students graduate.

The BFA will allow students to work with traditional forms of artistic and communicationsbased media. The program will focus on emerging ‘transmedia,’ which includes many recent digital innovations.

Gerd Hauck, the dean of the faculty of communication and design (FCAD), said the new program would address a variety of challenges that have plagued the current iteration of new media, including finances and research needs.

“We’ve come up with a solution to all these issues,” Hauck said. “[The new program] will be dealing with a revised curriculum that better meets industry needs, that better meets changing technology and student interest.” Students currently enrolled in both new media and RTA will not be affected by the change, and will be able to graduate in their respective programs as they currently stand. The school of image arts is considering a new program to replace new media.

“The world of media is always changing,” said Charles Falzon, the chair of RTA. “We’re always looking at staying at the forefront rather than let anything stagnate.” A town hall meeting last Thursday gave students a chance to voice concerns about the changes, and provided them with more details.

“I think that, generally, [the change] is good,” said Megan Shier, a fourth-year new media student.

“Personally, I’ve worked more in communications, so I understand why they’d do that. But I liked that

[new media] was so open-ended.” The current new media program provides students with a flexible, multi-streamed curriculum, allowing students to take on fields from animation to interactive sculpture.

“I feel like, at new media, we can pull in any interest,” Shier said.

“You can do a lot with where it currently stands.” Students in the new BFA will have access to both the new media faculty members that transfer over, and existing RTA faculty. The transition will be managed by a one-year joint director handling both programs.

Alexandra Anderson, the chair of image arts, said the transitionwoud allow two programs, which have become increasingly similar, to join forces.

“We’re finding that while there’s room for media specificity, such as photography and film, there’s also a real need and demand for media convergence,” she said.

“We’ve done [everything] with the wellfare and the interests of the students in the forefront.” Hauck said the establishment of a new program would keep FCAD up to date with the needs of a new generation of students.

“We’re all very happy. We have full approval from image arts, we have full approval from RTA, [and] I’m fully behind it,” Hauck said.

“And the greatest beneficiaries will be the students.” The name of the program, which Hauck said has been considered by FCAD for two years, has not yet been announced.

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