New York Semester on Communications and Media

“Drew Students are Taking Another Bite Out of The Big Apple,” by Liz Moore.

I. Overview.

New York City is the media and communications capital of the world. From historic Madison Avenue to Silicon Alley, the city is home to an astonishingly wide array of U.S. and international broadcasting, cable, advertising, public relations, publishing, music, film, and digital media companies. From TriBeCa to the Upper East Side, firms both big and small disseminate the ideas, information, and stories that shape our culture and collective psyche, craft the messages that establish the identities of companies, organizations, products, and political candidates around the globe, and develop the new technologies that are changing the way we communicate.

While there are many curricular programs at colleges and universities dedicated to the study of communications, advertising, public relations, publishing, and media, few offer students the opportunity to explore close up the frenetic pace of New York’s image- and message-making center, to hear directly from the men and women who make the decisions, design the ads, create the brands, construct the messages, and tell the stories.

The New York Semester on Communications and Media brings Drew University students into the heart of it all, to learn from professionals who work in the interconnected world of communications, public relations, advertising, publishing, and media, and to visit the places in which meaning is created, stories conveyed, and information consumed. In this semester, the student will take a critical look at the operations of New York City’s media and communications industry, examine the making of – and meaning behind – the messages, and discuss the ethical and moral issues at play. At the end of the semester, they will have a deep understanding of the issues and controversies at the heart of media, publishing, and communications in New York and of the role they play within American culture.

II. Start Date

This new program was approved as a three-year pilot on May 2, 2014, and ran for the first time in Spring 2015 directed by Professor Sandra Jamieson. For information about Spring 2016, please contact Drew’s Office of International and Off Campus Programs.

III. Eligibility.

The New York Semester on Communications and Media is designed for Drew University students in their junior or senior year. The program consists of two, 4-credit courses to be taken concurrently in the spring semester. Admission to the program will be through special application.

Eligible students will have taken and successfully completed (grade of B or better) one of the following courses as preparation for the New York Semester on Communications and Media:

  • ENGL 110: Intro to Media Studies [4-credits] – Offered Spring semesters
  • ENGL 111: Intro to Writing and Communication Studies  [4-credits]Offered Fall semesters beginning 2014
  • Students may also apply if they have not taken these courses, but have completed others that they believe adequately prepare them for the program. Just describe that preparation in the application essay.

IV. Required Courses in New York City

The following two courses, taken concurrently in New York City (Mondays and Wednesdays in the Spring semester; ENGL 386 in the morning and ENGL 387 in the afternoon), comprise the New York Semester on Communications and Media:

ENGL 386: Theories and Effects of Media Communication. [4-credits] The course offers students an introduction to the critical perspectives, theories, and research methods that are central to the analysis of mass communication policy and programming, traditional and new media, interpersonal communication, and audience reception. The course will provide students with the skills to explain how and why media institutions make messages, how individuals receive and use these messages, and how these messages have typically-widespread and long-term effects on cultural, social, individual, and global levels.

ENGL 387: New York Semester on Communications and Media Colloquium. [4-credits] This course studies the institutions and operations of advertising, communications, public relations, publishing, and media and their roles in contemporary society. We will also explore the history and ethical dimensions of the principles and practices integral to media, publishing, and communications. A key component of this course is the opportunity to delve into the practical, day-to-day operations of Madison Avenue, Silicon Alley, and related institutions located in New York City. Central to the program are talks by guest speakers drawn from the fields of advertising, communications, public relations, publishing, and media. The class will also visits advertising agencies, public relations firms, digital and traditional media organizations, and publishers. Additional related activities may include attending related evening social events, screenings, readings, museum visits, and seminars at the International Radio and Television Society and the Center for Communication. Speakers, field trips and events, and student projects explore contemporary communication issues, such as the concentration of media ownership and conglomeration, media literacy, the increasing democratization of the information environment, and changes in the media landscape.

One of the requirements of the New York Semester on Communications and Media is that students will create an e-Portfolio that details their coursework, experiences and interactions with guest speakers, writing assignments, resume, and other professionally-oriented materials to showcase their new knowledge and skills to future employers.

V. Internships.

In the second half of the semester, students will spend two full days shadowing experts in a company or organization within their selected field in a mini guided-internship. These sessions, which may involve individual students or small groups, will familiarize students with the workings of one or more specific area within the organization and provide hands-on interaction with professionals in the field. This shadowing (or externship) will culminate in a short written product appropriate to that field, which the students will write about and reflect on once they return to the classroom. This experience will challenge students to draw on knowledge gained from other areas and to understand the inter-relatedness of these fields and the overlapping skill sets required for success.

It is our expectation that students will follow this semester in New York with a related internship in the summer or fall semester following participation in the program. The New York semester will prepare them to gain the most from such internships and also develop the professional skills and work habits desired of interns. In recent years, Drew’s Center for Career Development has successfully placed students in internships at Peppercomm, Thirteen/WNET, Sony, Conde Nast, Simon & Schuster, CNN, Keating Public Relations, Penguin Putnam, and Nike Communications. Because of this additional preparation, we hope to develop partnerships with individual companies and organizations that will lead to guaranteed internships and mentoring relationships for Drew students interested in media, publishing, public relations, communications, and related fields.

VI. Learning Goals.

Students who complete the New York Semester on Communications and Media will demonstrate:

  1. an ability to understand, analyze, and evaluate communication both for its causes and consequences and to do so by critically engaging with multiple scholarly paradigms for inquiry, theory, and research as well as with predominant industry models.
  2. an ability to produce effective oral, written, and mediated communication and to offer solutions to complex communication challenges that show a comprehensive and coherent integration of diverse communication media and processes.
  3. an understanding of individual, group, and organizational behavior, all of which are shaped through and manifested in communication, with particular emphasis on how principles, models, theories, and paradigms come to influence our global, social, psychological, and behavioral decisions.
  4. a practical and theoretical understanding of the ways communication-related fields are shaped and challenged by international contexts and globalization, language differences, and cultural and ethical expectations.
  5. an understanding and appreciation of the various skills and knowledge needed for careers in communication-related fields including advertising, public relations, publishing, and traditional and new media.
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