MSU’s Department of Media and Information – Early Reflections

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I am just beginning my tenure in the Department of Media and Information at MSU – literally my first days. However, I can already sense tremendous potential stemming from key features of its faculty.

Most obviously, the department’s clear joining of media and information studies departs from a common albeit increasingly artificial division between schools of media and communication and schools of information. It makes no sense to separate broadcasting from social media or big data, for example. It is brilliant for these areas to be bridged within the department. To me, this represents one of the most strategically important features of the department.

Secondly, the department is decidedly multi-disciplinary or even inter-disciplinary in the sense of a focus on problems facing media and information, rather than puzzles within disciplines. It brings together computer scientists, sociologists, economists and communication scholars, to name a few of the disciplines represented. This commitment is underscored by faculty of the department, such as Shelia Cotten, taking a leadership role in academic initiatives that cross college and divisional boundaries, such as through what is called the ‘Trifecta’ initiative at MSU.

Thirdly, the department is embedded within a College of Communication Arts & Sciences, which assembles a large and diverse array of academics focused on topics of communication from the social sciences and humanities, including journalism and cinema and gaming. It is hard to imagine a student of communication not being able to find their interests represented by a number of faculty. The College builds on a long traditional of strength within the communication field.

Fourthly, it is global – decidedly international in the composition of its faculty, the scope of its research, the focus of its curriculum, its study abroad programs, and more. The department has a clear commitment to worldwide research and outreach.

Finally, the department has a strong academic commitment to shaping policy and practice. This is illustrated by its centrality to the gaming community, such as through its Meaningful Play Conferences, its role in the provision of public television (WKAR) and a ‘Media Sandbox’, and its ties to the communication policy community, such as through the Quello Center.

I’m sure I will discover additional aspects of the department of importance, but these seem to be promising aspects of my new home.

Bill Dutton, Director of the Quello Center

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Johannes Bauer Receives 2013 Distinguished Faculty Award at MSU

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bauer-j-chair_entryMSU has named Professor Johannes Bauer as the recipient of a Distinguished Faculty Award. Johannes has helped direct the Quello Center and is one of its major researchers. Professor Bauer has gained a reputation as one of the world’s leading scholars in the area of telecommunications policy, with a remarkable record of global engagement, sustained productivity and grant funding. Bauer’s research on the governance of complex network infrastructures has informed policy makers and scholars throughout the world. He has applied economic theory to analyze how malware evolves, which has led to new Internet security approaches, while concurrently developing a distinct theoretical framework for telecommunications policy that is synchronized with his empirical work. Bauer’s unique and informed blending of economic theory, policy analysis and international comparative studies has led to his being sought out for his advice and counsel by the world’s foremost international telecommunications policy institutions, including the Federal Communications Commission in the United States and the United Nations International Telecommunications Union in Geneva. He has been described by a noted law and policy scholar from Harvard as “one of the most distinctive and influential scholars in telecommunications policy in the world today.”

Bauer’s publications, which number more than 100, have appeared in leading journals in his field, including “Telecommunications Policy,” “Information Economics and Policy” and “Communications and Strategies.” Bauer is chairman of the board of directors for the annual TPRC Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy, the premiere scholarly meeting for his field, and serves on the board of directors for the International Telecommunications Society.

Bauer is widely regarded as an enthusiastic and engaging teacher who encourages active debate in the classroom. An assignment in his graduate communications policy class a few years ago required his students to prepare entries for Wikipedia on communications policy issues as part of a multi-university initiative sponsored by the WikiMedia Foundation. His class was ranked as the strongest in the country in terms of its contributions. An exceptional mentor who always puts students’ needs ahead of his own, Bauer has guided numerous Ph.D. students to successful academic careers in both the United States and abroad. His undergraduate students are equally enthusiastic about his classes, acknowledging him as a brilliant and innovator teacher, whose classes are always enjoyable.

To read about the other winners, visit MSU Today’s article.

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