Cheryl Seligman - Presentation Editor

It is no secret that technology is rapidly making its way into many classrooms. Smartboards, laptops, ebooks — all of these technologies and more are finding their own places in the world of learning.

UR is no wallflower in this rush toward digitization. The University is currently developing plans for both a digital studies major and a new Digital Media and Innovation Center, which will be attached to Morey Hall.

The new major will combine science and technology with the arts and humanities. From the perspective of these two disciplines, students will study the history, theory, analysis and production of digital media. They will take classes that focus on the side of technology and production, history and theory of digital media, culminating their studies with a capstone project in their senior year.

“I think the proposed major is an extremely interesting one, combining the humanities and the sciences in an especially creative way,” Dean of the College Richard Feldman said.

Thomas DiPiero, recently appointed Dean for Humanities and Interdisciplinary Studies, is working to get this new endeavor off the ground.

“So much of what we do, both in our work lives and in our leisure time, involves some form of digital media,” he said. “It is important to understand the form and function of media — of whatever variety — to become more critical users and producers of them.”

DiPiero was reluctant to comment on any additional details of the major, since it is still in its preliminary stages and has not yet been approved by the faculty.

It was possible that the new major was going to be discussed at a meeting of the Faculty Council on Wednesday, Sept. 21, but discussion has been delayed until the next meeting, which will occur at least a month from the present time.

Greta Niu, a former assistant professor of English at UR who studies the social and cultural aspects of technology and the Internet, had a positive take on the proposed major.

“I think it will be incredibly important to students,” she said. “It is a good way to study something in a multi-faceted way.”

Junior Jay Ricciardi, a film and media studies and English major, voiced concern about practical aspects of the major.

“I think we [would] need to build up good, dedicated courses with established professors instead of cobbling together a major first,” he said.

The Digital Media and Innovation Center is also in its early stages. In the beginning, there were thoughts to simply create an edgy digital media lab, which would have resided in Spurrier Gym.

Robert Clark, Dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, then suggested looking into a stand-alone building once it was determined that many improvements would have to be made to Spurrier to house the lab.

The building will be roughly 16,000-square feet, with 8,000-square feet used as programming space. It will be used primarily as a collaborative space, similar in concept to Gleason Library, according to Jose Fernandez, Executive Director of Campus Planning, Design and Construction Management.

“A big part of this new building is really collaboration space that encourages students to work together,” Fernandez said.

Classes will occur mostly in other locations, with the Digital Media and Innovation Center being used as more of a lab or a workshop where students can work on projects in a fabrication lab and create digital media. The building will be accessible through Morey Hall and will provide elevator access to Morey.

The total cost of the project will be $10 million, funded by donors and an issuance of bonds.

The project is currently in a phase of design competition. Three architects are working on designs for the buildings. When completed in the middle of Oct., the designs will be submitted and one will be chosen, after which detailed drawings for the structure will be sketched out.

“Everything is basically moving forward, and we are just all super excited about it,” Fernandez said.

The building is currently slated to open in Aug. 2013.

Goldin is a member of the class of 2013.

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