Winter-Spring 2004

Certificate Program Also Available
New BA Degree in Community Media and Technology at UMass/Boston

CMT program logo

The University of Massachusetts Community Media and Technology Program has just received final approval to begin offering a liberal arts degree [Bachelor of Arts]. As part of the College of Public and Community Service [CPCS] at UMass/Boston, the CMT Program is founded on a vision of activist education and learning in pursuit of social justice. Like the community media and technology movements the program takes from and informs, the CMT educational approach is grounded in the strong democratic philosophies of people like Paulo Freire, John Dewy, and Antonio Gramsci.

The core of the academic program is a self-paced, competency-based, outcomes-oriented curriculum in which prior learning is validated and collaborative socially and politically active projects are developed through partnerships with activists, community media and tech organizations, non-profits, unions and others. Because our curriculum is competency based we can award academic credit for prior learning and independent, project-based leaning initiatives taking place in community organizations. We are also able to deliver a free-standing certificate in community media, on-line, through a web-based curriculum. The six course/competency certificate program is focused in the advanced areas of the curriculum and is designed for those who already have a BA and want to certify or gain specialized competency or those who simply want an abbreviated concentrated academic experience.

The program is thus positioned to play a unique role in identifying best practices and broaden the dialogue in community media and technology practices as well as provide valuable research, professional development, and training.

The Curriculum

The CMT developmental curriculum has a career focus and is built on four Levels. To complete the baccalaureate degree, a student must earn 120 credits. Of these, 81 credits are in the Core Knowledge and Skills basic level application to all CPCS students and includes competencies in Media Literacy, Exploring Culture, Exploring Community, and Public and Community Action. Of the remaining courses/competencies, students are also required to complete "Communication and Computer Portfolio" and work in the CMT Major which begins at Level II. Work culminates in a Level IV "Capstone Project," designed as an exit level project in which students synthesize their educational experiences. As with other majors in the new CPCS curriculum, CMT students have the option of combining their major with a related concentration in an area such as Management, Organizing, or Training and Development. Advanced levels are as follows:

Level II

  • History of Mass Communication — Students will be able to discuss the invention and development of the major mass communication technologies—print, sound recording, radio, television, film, and computer-assisted communication—and describe their corporate structure and ownership patterns with a special emphasis on how they affect content and cultural development.
  • Converging Technologies —Affordable digital recording equipment, non-linear editing, photo editing and presentation software, the Internet, and Broadband are creating a new digital environment for community-based organizations and activists. Students will demonstrate an integrated understanding of the converging digital media environment, using information technology and computer-assisted communication as one interacting system.
  • Analyzing Media — Students will demonstrate a systematic knowledge of the operations of selected communication media, be able to provide close readings of texts, and critically analyze such variables as image selection, framing, lighting, camera angles, newsworthiness, reliance on experts, and use of statistics, as these affect perceptions of social issues, public policies, and cultural groups.
  • Media and Community Building — Students will be able to compare and contrast a range of existing models and best practices in the use of communication media and information technologies as tools for education and community organizing, and discuss the application of such uses to local projects and/or organizations.

Level III

  • Writing for Media — Students will demonstrate the ability to write leaflets, press releases, letters to the editor, news stories, instruction manuals, story boards, proposals, curriculum packages, and other documents related to public and community issues and groups.
  • Using Technology — Students will choose two of these technically-oriented competencies, demonstrate technical proficiency in a particular communications medium or information technology, and apply these skills to a project related to public and community service.

    • Using Technology — Video and Audio Production
    • Using Technology — Multimedia Authoring
    • Using Technology — Computer Networking (to be developed in year 2)
    • Using Technology — Database Management (also in year 2)
  • Media/Technology Policy — Students will analyze and discuss the relevant legislation, regulatory guidelines, and rules of access regarding the mass media and communication technologies with a particular emphasis on community responsibility, public and community access, and the development of community-based alternatives.

Level IV

  • Developing a Media/Technology Strategy — Students will identify and research a relevant public or community issue, organizational need, or social goal, describe its fit with larger organizing goals and strategies, and design an effective media/technology project to build capacity, mobilize a constituency, and or influence key stakeholders in the area selected.
  • Implementing a Media/Technology Strategy — For the particular community issue, organizational need, or social goal chosen above, students will implement an effective media/technology project and reflect on the effectiveness of the effort.

Fred Johnson
Fred Johnson is a faculty member in the Community Media and Technology program and founder of the Media Working Group.


Good Luck!

Always good to see an academic institution "keeping up" to times with our current disgital realities in their degree program offerings.

Posted by: Gail Watt at February 18, 2004 05:10 AM

Hi Fred,

Rob Williams, ACME Board President and Champlain College professor of history/media here.

I am intrigued with your remarkable BA offerings here. We are exploring similar kinds of programs at CC - I'd love to get more information from you about the nature of your program.

Any wisdom you have is most welcome...



Posted by: Rob Williams, PhD at February 20, 2004 10:44 AM
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