CMAP MA Program

The MA in Civic Media, Art & Practice is an intensive 12-month program centered around the production of a creative thesis project that will be situated within the theories and methodologies explored during coursework. Through the lasting connections forged with a wide array of organizational partners encountered during the program, CMAP graduates will be well-positioned to create their own avenues for work across a range of careers -- from leadership roles in innovation offices of municipal governments to creative digital roles at foundations and corporations focused on social responsibility -- implementing technologies and practices for civic engagement.


Upcoming Semester Fall 2016

Digital technology has created an integrated environment where even analog media are most often produced and/or viewed in a digital context or with digital tools. This course explores advanced theories of producing and consuming film, video, photography and sound, both in isolation and couched within digital technologies.  Students will be given a background in traditional approaches to media criticism and encouraged to question how the new digital context has altered those approaches and changed the conditions under which the creative expression and consumption of media takes place.

Learning Objectives

This course will provide students a background in media theory and critical philosophy and will create a context from which to think about one’s own artistic practice.  By the end of the semester, students should:

  • Be able to justify their own artistic practice within a scholarly discourse
  • Be comfortable reading and discussing theoretical topics
  • Be encouraged to apply theory to the production and consumption of media art
  • Be able to write convincingly about media and culture
  • Hopefully, find inspiration for one’s own artistic and scholarly practice

VM652: Theories of Integrated Media

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This is the first part of a two-semester seminar on the theory and methods of civic media. We define civic media as:

the technologies, designs, and practices that produce and reproduce the sense of being in the world with others toward common good. While the concept of “common good” is deeply subjective, we use the term to invoke the good of the commons, or actions taken that benefit a public outside of the actor’s intimate sphere.  To this end, the civic in civic media is not merely about outcomes, but about process and potential. It is about the mechanics of acting in the world with the tools and conditions available. Civic media, then, are any mediated practice that enables a community to imagine themselves as being connected, not through achieving, but through striving for common good.

In the fall semester, students will be introduced to a range of theories about what makes media civic, or how media come to define civic life. These perspectives come from fields such as Sociology, Human Computer Interaction, Communications, Media Studies and Philosophy. What holds this work together is the intentional use of media or technology for the “common good.” Students will learn a range of methods in Participatory Action Research (PAR) to put this knowledge of civic media into action.

In the spring semester, students will continue the exploration of civic media and PAR, but inquiries will be guided by student thesis topics. Students will compile their own reading lists and lead research sessions around their area of interest.

 

Learning Objectives

The first semester of the seminar seeks to develop intellectually curious civic media practitioners. Students will:

  • Understand core theories of civic media
  • Understand a range of methods in civic media production
  • Be able to critique popular media practices using theoretically informed language
  • Be able to practice Participatory Action Research methods
  • Be able to investigate how civic media applies to other academic disciplines
  • Conduct an academic literature review on a specific interest area related to civic media
  • Be able to talk to a range of stakeholders (academics, community partners, funders) about why civic media matter
  • Be able to assess whether a media intervention has value for a diversity of stakeholder

VM655: Civic Media Seminar - Part One

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Spring 2013


vm652: Theories of integrated media

syllabus

 

 

Digital technology has created an integrated environment where even analog media are most often produced and/or viewed in a digital context or with digital tools. This course explores advanced theories of producing and consuming film, video, photography and sound, both in isolation and couched within digital technologies.  Students will be given a background in traditional approaches to media criticism and encouraged to question how the new digital context has altered those approaches and changed the conditions under which the creative expression and consumption of media takes place.

Learning Objectives

This course will provide students a background in media theory and critical philosophy and will create a context from which to think about one’s own artistic practice.  By the end of the semester, students should:

  • Be able to justify their own artistic practice within a scholarly discourse
  • Be comfortable reading and discussing theoretical topics
  • Be encouraged to apply theory to the production and consumption of media art
  • Be able to write convincingly about media and culture
  • Hopefully, find inspiration for one’s own artistic and scholarly practice


Fall 2013


VM420: Games for social change

syllabus

 

The video game industry is one of the largest sectors of the entertainment industry. But the importance of games goes well beyond industrial silos. Games and game mechanics are factoring into the experience of television, film and the web, and increasingly, into other institutions, including education, democracy and health. What's more, games are being deployed in these contexts to produce real world social change. This class provides students with an introduction to games and game design and gives them the opportunity to partner with an organization in designing games for real people to solve real problems. Students will work in groups, each with a specific geographic and content focus, to design board (or otherwise analog) games and digital prototypes that will be tested and deployed.

Learning Objectives

This course will provide students a background in game design / game thinking and practical experience designing games for real-world settings.  By the end of the semester, students should:

  • Understand why games are effective for learning
  • Understand the principles of gameful design and how to apply it to specific social problems
  • Be able to research a geographical and social context and provide in-depth description and analysis
  • Deconstruct the mechanics of good games and understand why they are fun/effective
  • Be able to articulate the connections between game design and social process, understanding the relationship between learning, behavior change, and action.


Spring 2014


VM331/Cc472: Games for social change

syllabus

 

The video game industry is one of the largest sectors of the entertainment industry. But the importance of games goes well beyond industrial silos. Games and game mechanics are factoring into the experience of television, film and the web, and increasingly, into other institutions, including education, democracy and health. What's more, games are being deployed in these contexts to produce real world social change. This class provides students with an introduction to games and game design and gives them the opportunity to partner with an organization in designing games for real people to solve real problems. Students will work in groups, each with a specific geographic and content focus, to design board (or otherwise analog) games and digital prototypes that will be tested and deployed.

Learning Objectives

This course will provide students a background in game design / game thinking and practical experience designing games for real-world settings.  By the end of the semester, students should:

  • Understand why games are effective for learning
  • Understand the principles of gameful design and how to apply it to specific social problems
  • Be able to research a geographical and social context and provide in-depth description and analysis
  • Deconstruct the mechanics of good games and understand why they are fun/effective
  • Be able to articulate the connections between game design and social process, understanding the relationship between learning, behavior change, and action.

Course Partner

This semester, we will be partnering with several local and international organizations to design games for real world impact. Partners include the Red Cross / Red Crescent Climate Centre, Boston Public Health Department, and FleetForum. The challenge is to produce games that address ongoing issues of humanitarian concern. 


Fall 2014



Civic Media are media wherein intentionality of their use or production is to generate social change or 'public good," typically originating in the intersection of community and storytelling. In this course, students will work in teams to create civic media projects grounded in real-world needs and guided by community partners. The course will cover participatory design theories and methods for including communities in iterative stages of project ideation, design, implementation and evaluation. Teams may produce a variety of media forms (i.e. game, website, video, artwork, campaign, mobile app, etc.). 

During the fall 2014 semester, we will be working with the Boston Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics to design opportunities for art and artists in the City of Boston. The following is a framework of opportunities from which we will start:

1.     Engaging Artists in Cultural Planning
The City is making a big push to engage stakeholders in the planning process.  A student team could prototype a tool focused on one group of stakeholders (e.g. artists) to, for example, get their feedback on what they would want to see in Boston.

2.     Finding Performance Space
The City has heard repeatedly that we need to make it easier for artists to go from idea to implementation, offering a leaner permitting process for designated spaces.  This parks prototype is an example.  

3.     Leveraging
One of the big opportunities is to rethink / reopen public space for public expression.  A team could explore a broader notion of "civic media", thinking about how traditional civic infrastructure could be re-purposed for public art or performance (e.g. blank walls,digital billboards, bus shelters, etc.)  

4.     Tracking the Plan
People tune out of some planning processes because they don't believe that a plan will get implemented.  A team could prototype and test a tracker that could show the progress to date on specific recommendations that come out of the cultural plan.

5.     Promoting Art
The City wants to improve its promotion of art and artists.  Many of the current methods - e.g. calendars - are limited in their impact. A team could explore what new platforms the city could provide to artists or the community to build awareness

Course Learning Objectives

  • Through interviews, guest lectures and the collaborative creation of a "Boston Art Ecosystem" map, students will be encouraged to view civic life as a vibrant and dynamic system that involves people, institutions and resources.
  • Students will demonstrate a working definition of "civic media" and "civic engagement" in their reflection papers and design process documentation
  • Students will reflect on the ethical position of mediamaker/s in relation to their subject, their audience and to society at large.
  • Through writing assignments, discussion, and the collaborative creation of a final project students will learn participatory methods for co-creating media products with their intended audience.
  • Students will learn about the social and political concerns of diverse members of the Boston community by working directly with them on solving problems. 

in123: Civic Media in action

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Fall 2015


This course is an introduction to media and cultural theory. It will provide an intellectual history of critical philosophy of the 20th century, while positioning the discourse within a 21st century context. The course will address questions of work and labor, meaning and identity, narrative and play, and question how various popular and avant garde media traditions have influenced them. This course will make theory relevant. Theory is not purely theoretical. It provides a very real way to approach the world, its people, texts and artifacts, and gives us the tools to analyze and engage in contemporary culture.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will gain a critical understanding of the media
  • Students will be able to understand and apply complex theoretical texts to contemporary examples of media
  • Students will have a good understanding of the 20th century intellectual history of media philosophy and media criticism.
  • Students will be able to write about media from a critical perspective
  • Students will be able to navigate academic references and be self directed in their research

VM200: Media criticism and theory

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Spring 2016


Digital Media and Culture is designed to help students develop an informed and critical understanding of how interactive media shape and influence society and communication. The course will examine participatory technologies, collaborative media, social networks, mobile platforms and civic life. Of particular concern is the evolution of communication and media industries and the ways in which digital media are transforming the production and consumption of media and culture.

 This course is part of a digital media colloquium which is a series of lectures on contemporary digital culture available to the entire Emerson community.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will explore the evolution of digital media to understand its role in shaping culture.
  • Students will learn how digital media are transforming media industries.
  • Students will understand how technologies shape identities, communities, and interactions, give voice to marginalized people and empower oppressed communities.
  • Students will learn how digital culture shape identities, stereotypes, and cross-cultural relationships.
  • Students will understand the digital media models that promote communication and information flow across borders
  • Students will learn to interpret digital texts and images
  • Students will learn to engage in collaborative analysis of media messages and their influence.
  • Students will learn digital storytelling skills

VM303: STUDIES IN DIGITAL MEDIA AND CULTURE

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