On March 3, the Quello Center co-hosted a roundtable on Fake News with the Department of Media and Information and the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. Talks by Winson Peng, Esther Thorson, David Ewolsen, Keith Hampton, and Rachel Mourao kicked off a wide-ranging discussion. Each colleague seemed to approach the topic from their theoretical or methodological home, whether data science, journalism, social psychology or Internet studies, so I was left hoping for this discussion to help foster more inter-disciplinary collaboration. That said, the unique perspective of each academic was stimulating.
From a Quello Center perspective, I asked how we can reframe this discussion and their various research topics in ways that will have a longer shelf-life and impact on policy and practice. When fake news fades as a hot button issue, how will their research continue to be viewed as relevant. My own sense is that the real issue is the more enduring one of quality news, and how to define it, produce it, and support its consumption.
We hope to have more roundtables like this one, which drew colleagues from across the College. Many thanks to Dean Prabu David, Department Chair Johannes Bauer, and other heads for supporting this, and for the many doctoral students who attended. Our Assistant Director, Dr Bibi Reisdorf, expertly moderated the discussion and summarized key points. Thanks to all.
The headline above was the title of a Quello Center roundtable discussion this afternoon, with the participation of several senior figures of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, chaired by Professor William Dutton.
Here are some of my reflections as an outsider – listener:
First, pay attention to the fact that the topic is “the future of the field“. Is it clear to everyone what field we are talking about? Obviously, you think of “Communication” as the “field”; however it is not so obvious, and what Communication is, as an academic field, is not so obvious as well. Actually, this was the core issue of the discussion in the seminar: the definition and the boundaries of “the field”.
Is it an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary research field? Can scholars from computer sciences, public policy, health education, etc. be considered as communication scholars as well? Are Internet studies, technology engineering studies, etc. part of any Communication department’s syllabus? Are there common research interests for scholars from the Department of Communication, the Department of Media and Information, and the School of Journalism (all of them under the umbrella of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at MSU)? Does the multifaceted nature of the College reflect diversity or fragmentation in the field? Is it positive or negative? All these questions and many others were addressed as topics of the discussion.
For me, as a relatively young scholar (although not such a young man), this diversity in the field is a blessing; it opens a variety of opportunities; it makes “Communication” a very exciting academic field; it allows a real thorough understanding of the social reality within which we live in the 21st century. So yes, old media as well as new media, media policy as well as media technology, journalism as an occupation as well as journalism as a societal phenomenon; Internet as an infrastructure, a fascinating technology, and a public sphere, and so on… All of these are “Communication” for me.
Therefore, I do not find any need for defining or re-defining the field, I do not see any problem with the fact that there are no precise boundaries to the field, and I can only appreciate the fact that scholars of Communication can contribute to other scholarly fields and can be informed by the contributions of other scholars from various disciplines as well.
Avshalom Ginosar, PhD, Communication Department, The Academic College of Yezreel Valley
Visiting Scholar, The Quello Center, The Department of Media & Information, The College of Communication Arts & Sciences, Michigan State University
The Quello Center is anchored in the Department of Media and Information at MSU, which provides attractive opportunities for doctoral studies with a multi-disciplinary faculty. The Media and Information Studies (MIS) PhD program at Michigan State University would like to hear from outstanding students who wish to join an innovative interdisciplinary program of study at the intersection of the social sciences, humanities, including the study of socio technical systems, Internet studies, and communication policy and governance. Our diverse faculty develops and applies transformative knowledge about media and society and evolving information and communication technologies. The program engages students to become active scholars, teachers, and leaders in the media and information fields.
Offered jointly by the Department of Advertising+Public Relations, the School of Journalism, and the Department of Media and Information, the MIS PhD program give students access to fifty PhD faculty with research interests that span important current and emerging issues in media and information studies. Students get involved early on in projects, complementing theoretical coursework with hands-on research experiences.
Particularly strong research interests of our faculty include:
New this year is an option for undergraduates interested in pursuing advanced studies through an accelerated MA program leading to early admission to our PhD program.
Over 90 percent of our current students are supported by graduate teaching and research assistantships with generous stipends of $2000 per month, tuition remission, and health benefits . University fellowships, dissertation completion fellowships, summer research fellowships, and stipends for travel to academic conferences round out the resources available for students.
Over three-fourths of our graduates are hired into faculty positions at four-year institutions at graduation. They are found in departments of mass media, journalism, advertising, public relations, and information studies across the United States and around the world. Others go on to careers in public service and business.
The National Communication Association (NCA), in their most recent doctoral program reputation study, ranked MSU’s Ph.D. programs as No. 1 in educating researchers in communication technology, and in the top four in mass communication. Michigan State University ranked third in frequency of faculty publication in communication in a study reported in The Electronic Journal of Communication in 2012. QS World University rankings place MSU 11th in the world and 7th in the U.S. in communication and media studies.
East Lansing and the greater Lansing area offer a vibrant cultural environment with easy access to a variety of outdoor activities and the scenic beauty of our state year-round. Blending urban and sub-urban living, it is one of the nation’s most affordable places to complete a doctoral program in media and information studies.