The Communication and Media Studies Program is celebrating this month its 40th anniversary to mark a major milestone in the history of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication. What began as a small program with few students within the School of Journalism and Mass Communication has grown into a top-ranking program known for its interdisciplinary and innovative research and teaching as well as its top-notch scholars. The creating of a communication program within the School of Journalism and Communication was a recognition, on one hand, of the important synergy between the fields of journalism and communication and, on the other hand, of the need to continually broaden, diversify, and reshape communication knowledge to keep pace with changes in the communication landscape.

The evolutionary nature of the communication program is reflected first and most in its title. Rebranding itself from a Mass Communication Program to Communication and Media Studies Program has been made to capture the new dynamics of the media system, more specifically, of the new and diverse directions of message flows. This innovative tendency, however, has been consistently tied to a commitment to classical philosophy and critical media insights. So, you will see a remarkable combination of the creative and the traditional, the progressive and the critical, and the foundational and the experimental in the program’s diverse pedagogical and research interests and projects.

Another manifestation of the program’s evolving trajectory is the classes it offers. The program now offers courses such as Big Data and Society, Digital Media and Global Network Society, Algorithmic Culture, Alternative Media and Social Activism, Data Mining and Analytics while, previously, film, radio, and television studies were the forefront of its pedagogy. The courses now also offer a pluralistic and ethical view of communication where gender and race identity are identified as essential pieces in the communication puzzle. So, students have an opportunity to sharpen their critical and social visions through courses such as Diaspora and Communication, Media, Gender and Sexuality, and Media, Race and Ethnicity.

In addition to its heterogenous structure, the program has been recognized for its support and collaborations with centres and labs that contribute to reshaping communication knowledge and, more notably, supporting social justice, including our ALiGN Media Lab (which will be celebrating its first anniversary soon), the Centre for Indigenous Research, Culture, Language and Education (CIRCLE), and the Carleton Centre for the Study of Islam. These centres are respectively directed by Dr. Merlyna Lim, Dr. Miranda Brady and Dr. Karim Karim, all of whom are professors in the Communication and Media Studies Program.

The program, since its inception, has been highly committed to connecting with community and transporting and translating the knowledge and research it has accumulated to the public. One of the channels it has created to achieve this objective is Post-Riposte, a media education podcast aimed to bring in an expert perspective to urgent issues such as reconciliation with indigenous communities and sexual violence.

Our ALiGN Media Lab comes as a research as well as community-oriented initiative from the program. Beyond functioning as a site to experiment with innovative research projects for Carleton faculty and student researchers, the lab is an open space for both public and university communities and adopts an alternative approach to media with justice and equality as focal points. Our team works to engage with disadvantaged communities in a variety of ways. On top of our website, which acts as a platform for disseminating research and analysis of new media’s opportunities and limitations in the area of society and culture, we offer workshops to activist groups and vulnerable communities to develop critical skills in the community for using technology and lay the foundation for exchange of ideas and insights.

If you want to learn more about the Communication and Media Studies Program or simply join the program’s anniversary celebration, do not miss this event: on September 14th, the school will host a symposium celebrating 40 years of Communication and Media Research pride. The event will bring together former students from the program to feature their societal and academic contributions and achievements. The symposium will end with a plenary lecture by Prof. Shannon Mattern from New York.