The School of Communication at Illinois State University traces its origin back to 1857 with the creation of the Forensics Union. Over more than a century and a half, communication curricula have provided students with quality education. You can imagine the extensive changes in curricula over the years to better meet student needs through advances in areas of study. The School’s mass media program is a great example of the kind of innovation that is needed.
While the mass media program has been quite sound over the last decade, three major changes are being made to the program. COM 101 Introduction to Mass Media is now a prerequisite for mass media majors, as students used to have the option to take the course at any time in their studies. Television production, radio, and interactive media are available in the major to give students the variety of experiences they would need while working in mass media now and in the future. The last significant change within the program is the addition of media sales.
Convergence among all types of media takes place when new technology is introduced and people see new and innovative ways to use and combine them. At ISU, each program is reviewed every seven years to make sure that students are able to meet set standards and the programs are well suited to the demands in the field beyond the University. Dr. Brent Simonds, professor and mass media program coordinator, was asked about future changes pertaining to the mass media program.
“We have collapsed the three sorts of creative courses—TV production, radio, and interactive media—into one sequence called media arts,” stated Simonds. “It gives people a little more flexibility if they want to become well-rounded in those aspects.”
With the presence of WZND, TV-10, Redbird Productions, The Vidette, and WGLT —all of which have won numerous awards at the local and national levels—we can see why mass media is thriving at ISU.
Dr. Steven Hunt, professor and the executive director of the School of Communication, is very optimistic about the mass media program’s future. “Going forward, I really foresee expanding opportunities for students and the possibility of creating new outlets, including a film festival. Dr. Brent Simonds is currently exploring that option. In addition, he is working with Dr. Andrew Ventimiglia in developing a new film festival course,” said Hunt. “Work in this area will provide new opportunities for current students, serve as a platform for recruiting new students, and bring significant visibility to our faculty and their creative work,” Hunt added.
The changes in the mass media program will be not present in the course catalog until the fall of 2021. Illinois State University continues to change along with the innovations in the world and its students, meeting or exceeding a high standard for higher education and vast opportunities for students to build their knowledge, skills, and abilities.