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GSU adding History, Media Studies majors

By Samantha Kaspar
On November 18, 2013

     Governors State University is excited to announce the addition of two new undergraduate programs. As of October 1, the Illinois Board of Higher Education has approved two new College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) majors, History and Media Studies.

     According to David Golland, Associate Professor of Social Science, the new majors are in line with the changes taking place in the university.  Although GSU has been teaching history since its founding, it did not have the traditional History major that is found in most universities throughout the world. The new History major at GSU will be different from the traditional History programs typically found at American universities.

      "What makes the History major at GSU unique is that we're going to be establishing a public history component," said Golland.

     The major will involve internships in places where history is done publicly, such as museums, archives, and historic sites, and will give students who choose to major in History a number of options. The major will also include a couple of new courses, but will mostly consist of those already existing at GSU. Among the new courses is the previously mentioned Public History course, as well as a Senior Capstone, both of which will be required of all History majors.

     According to Golland, the History faculty is eagerly awaiting the official Spring semester start date.

     "We're very excited about the new History program," said Golland. "As historians it's something we've always wanted to be a part of."

     The faculty is currently welcoming new students who wish to major in History and will take them on as their advisors.

     "History creates well-rounded, well-grounded, critical thinking individuals, and I hope students at GSU understand that and come with us and gain the benefits we have to offer," said Golland.

     In addition to the new History program, a major in Media Studies will also be added to the CAS. According to Dr. Debbie James, Assistant Professor of Media Studies and Faculty Advisor of the Phoenix, this program will address the changing media landscape. Courses will examine how participatory culture, social media, and networking affect the major pillars of communication such as television, film, public relations, and journalism.

      "We're really focusing on providing students with the skills necessary to approach a range of jobs in the media industry," said James. "Media Studies majors will be able to go into traditional jobs with new skills."

     Unlike the new History major, an entire list of Media Studies courses have been added. A course called Playing Games, which examines gaming throughout history, will be available for the Spring 2014 semester. The course will look at game strategy and what gaming means in today's culture, as well as look at it from a historical perspective. The major will also consist of an important three course sequence in animation, which will examine how particular animation tools can be used for communication.

     "We're looking forward to students have access to some new technology," said James. "Using things like tablets, as well as playing around with what is out there that is new and pushing the edge."

     According to James, one of the goals of the new Media Studies program is for students to gain experience through internships. Media Studies majors will have the potential opportunities to travel and study abroad, and also have the experience of social networking to engage in cultures beyond their own.

     "One of the most important things to me in the field of communication is social change," said James. "This major should appeal to people really interested in making a difference in how the world works, people who want to make a change for the better."

     People interested in majoring in Media Studies will be asked to answer a few questions about their social media use, interests, and practices. They will also be asked to send a video documenting why they want to be in program, as well as profile any media they have produced, ranging from an Instagram account to a video they have created.

     Students interested in becoming a Media Studies or History major at GSU can transfer over to the programs by speaking to their Academic Advisor.  

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