Hypertext Student Newsletter: New Major, Minor Offer Technology Twists

This story written by Mara Abrams, a senior in Communications & Psychology, was originally published in the Winter 2004 edition of the Hypertext quarterly student newsletter. Go to http://scg.ucdavis.edu/hypertext/2004winter/winter04.pdf to view a downloadable PDF of the entire newsletter.

These days, nearly all fields of study somehow cross paths with technology, sometimes in surprising ways. Two new undergraduate programs at UC Davis, Technocultural Studies and Technology Management, demonstrate how intertwined technology is with everyday life and aim to better prepare students for today's workforce.

The Technocultural Studies Program

Kicking off with several Winter 2004 classes, Technocultural Studies offers a trans-disciplinary program where the arts, humanities, technology and science collide. The undergraduate major will combine practical skills with history and theory and will hopefully commence next fall.

?Technocultural Studies integrates the latest research in cultural history and theory with innovative hands-on production in digital media and ?low-tech,?? explains the program's Web site. Primarily a production- based program, Technocultural Studies (TCS) will encourage people to produce work that explores the relationship between art and science.

?It's an important new field because technology is so prevalent in all aspects of our lives and throughout our entire culture,? says Jesse Drew, Associate Director of the TCS program and a former associate dean at the San Francisco Art Institute.

TCS faculty, which includes experienced filmmakers, writers, new media artists and other scholars, realize the importance of the interdisciplinary approach from their own past experiences, according to Drew. Thus, the combination of production and theory will prepare people for a career in a wide range of fields.

The project is moving through various institutional channels, including plans to house TCS in the soon-to-be-renovated Art Annex. The building will have a wireless lounge to foster more informal study, as well as new classrooms, digital workstations, an equipment-checkout center and an all-purpose black-box studio for recordings, performances, and other public events.

TCS students will choose either a 'studies? track or a production emphasis, which could involve working on screen-based projects, systems/networks projects, or sonic arts projects. The screen-based series includes courses in experimental digital cinema, animation, and documentary production; networks and communities focuses on computer networks and community activism; and the sonic arts track is the study of, well, sound and the arts. The beauty of the program is that the major has a basic framework, but students can truly shape the program to fit their individual interests.

In addition to core and specialized coursework, TCS students take one-unit workshops in digital and Web production to shape up their technical skills. They will also complete a creative project or written thesis to complete the degree.

The Tech Management Minor

If you're a science major, chances are you'll someday have to use some business skills. Fortunately, the UC Davis Graduate School of Management now offers an undergraduate minor in Technology Management (http://www.gsm.ucdavis.edu/TechMinor). The minor, which began this fall with two new classes, is specifically designed for engineering, biological and physical sciences majors to gain a business perspective of the disciplines they are studying.

?This minor?gives employers the option of picking a plain smart emplo yee or a smart employee who is business savvy too,? says Singh, a computer science major.

In order to enroll in the program, students must first take 14 to 16 units of prerequisite classes, including accounting, calculus, and statistics. Courses for the minor include ?Financing New Business Ventures,? ?Marketing for the Technology-based Enterprise," and ?Supply Chain Planning and Management,? among others.

At this time, enrollment is limited and selective; admission will take place on a quarterly basis. Two hundred students--more than double the current number of enrolled students--will eventually be accepted into the program by a phase-in process.

For questions and more information, email TechMinor@gsm.ucdavis.edu.