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A Calico Patchwork of Skills

By Rachel Heston-Davis A Calico Patchwork of Skills

Senior Emma Canady used a calico patchwork of skills in her summer job writing and marketing for a charity foundation. As a student of Greenville College’s Center for Visual Culture and Media Studies (CVCMS), Emma took the job prepared to meet the wide spread of demands.

While working for the Happenstance charity foundation in Irvine, California, Emma drafted mock scripts for a planned reality TV series. She cranked out press releases, crafted intriguing social media hooks and assisted with marketing needs, not to mention pitching in on web site development and content.

Emma embraces this interdisciplinary approach to work and is thrilled to be engaged with an educational curriculum that supports it. “I do genuinely love this program, and it’s one of the best decisions I think GC has made,” says Emma, who will graduate with a degree in communication.

“The CVCMS is an interdisciplinary collaborative study space,” says CVCMS Director Jake Amundson, who also chairs GC’s Department of Art. “It’s a place for four departments with a variety of majors who share significant overlap and interests to come together.”

The CVCMS fosters collaboration between the English, communication, digital media and art departments, using the intersection of these disciplines to better prepare students for real-world jobs.

Five Foundational Career Skills

Emma’s responsibilities with Happenstance over the summer—envisioning episodes, working online, writing content and marketing—touched exactly on four of the five core principles a CVCMS education is based on:

  • Visual thinking—visually expressed concepts carry as much weight as written ideas in a media-saturated culture.
  • Digital contact—jobs in nearly every field require some type of digital engagement, be it social media, Youtube, or web sites.
  • Storytelling—narratives drive culture and exert huge influence over perception and decisions.
  • Programming—computer programming is a basic language in today’s digital landscape, comparable to the foreign language element of a classic humanities education; and
  • Business—business and the humanities form a symbiotic relationship, as artists of all stripes must know how to use and market their work, while businesses need artists to enrich their endeavors.

One simple concept drives the CVCMS: students need all five competencies for career success but can’t explore them all in one major. The CVCMS reaches across department aisles to equip students for work in the spaces between disciplines.

Prepared for Enriching Work

Emma embraced the blend of disciplines. Her senior thesis will produce an educational Youtube series alongside a more traditional written thesis. When not plugging away at school work, she edits for the online student news site Papyrus, works at a video store where she can hold intelligent conversation with just about anyone on the finer points of moviemaking, and earns side money ghostwriting romance novels.

Emma plans to pursue a blend of interests beyond college, too. She’d like to earn a graduate degree in gender and media studies and possibly work in television. She and a friend dream of creating a production studio for online entertainment.

The multifaceted work for Happenstance forms a strong cornerstone of Emma’s resume, and she’s confident her GC education has prepared her for more enriching work in the future. “I think [the CVCMS] is a really great program and I feel like I’m learning a lot.

Fresh Faces and New Digs

The CVCMS found a new home on campus this year. The Kaufmann building on College Avenue, strategically located near the Light and Life Digital Media Center and the Maves Art Center, l provides a space for student collaboration between the disciplines. A computer lab, along with studios for podcasting, gaming or digital media productions facilitate the work of English, communication, art or digital media majors. Several key faculty members from these departments relocated their offices to the Kaufmann building, granting access to everything students need to cross disciplinary divides and expand learning.

Fresh faces also appeared along with the new digs. Matt Bernico, professor of communication and media studies, Lisa Sharpe, assistant professor of digital media, and Courtney Bailey Parker, assistant professor in the English department, are all recent faculty hires whose areas of expertise touch the CVCMS.

Jake Amundson points out that change and fresh perspectives are an integral part of the CVCMS’s mission. “These are not courses that you prepare and then teach for the next 20 years,” Amundson says. “We have [new] preparation every year.”

This ever-changing education will mirror the rapid evolution of culture and technology. “What we hope is the CVCMS opens up career opportunities in areas that we’re just now becoming aware of,” Amundson says. “[Students prepare for] jobs that don’t exist yet. I think that’s exciting.” 

Read more about the CVCMS:

Education That Prepares for Evolution

Press Association Names Student Publication Vista as Finalist

English Departmen Changes: CVCMS

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This story was published on February 15, 2017

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