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Meet the Program Director: Digital Communication and Media Arts

Paul Booth
Prof. Paul Booth

"My teaching philosophy embraces student-centered learning. I believe students learn best when they are active participants in the material — when they are engaged in discussions and structured activities — when they are treated as equal participants in the learning process."

On the MA in Digital Communication and Media Arts Program
The Digital Communication and Media Arts (DCMA) program offers students a thorough and up-to-date experience with digital technology in communication contexts. As the workforce is rapidly shifting, it’s obvious more skill with using technology becomes crucial for success. However, we believe students should also understand the theory and the background of technology as well. In twenty years the technological landscape will be completely different. Uncovering the theory of technology will prepare students for decades of technological change.

On the Type of Student DCMA Seeks
The program seeks students who are excited, energetic, inquisitive, and not afraid to get her hands dirty – students in the DCMA program will be exercising both sides of their brain through scholarly writing and creative projects.

Why our Program is a Unique Place to Study Digital Communication
The DCMA program is truly student-centered. It offers a wealth of courses across a variety of subject areas. Students can either see the impact of digital technology on multiple communication areas, or can specialize on one particular pathway. Also, the program’s concentration on both the skill-set for using digital technology and the scholarship for learning about digital technology provides a unique exploration of every angle of technological change.

Classes in DCMA will challenge students but prepare them to meet the demand of future technological changes. To do this, a number of learning approaches are used. Students will create original projects, using the technology as they learn about it. Students will also be expected to research and create original works of writing to augment and challenge contemporary ways of thinking. Through in-class presentations, students will increase their public speaking abilities, and through both group and individual work, students will demonstrate the key traits of contemporary digital skills.

The DCMA program is geared towards the student’s future. Students in the program work closely with faculty through class projects and scholarship. Whatever the future plans of the student, whether more education in a PhD or MFA program or to further one’s career, the DCMA program offers practical and viable connections through building close relationships with scholars and community leaders.

DCMA faculty are experts in their fields, with decades of experience both in and out of the classroom. By utilizing the particular strengths of each field (Advertising, Communication Studies, Journalism, Media and Cinema Studies, Public Relations), the program harnesses each faculty member’s specific area of research and allows students to learn from some of the top scholars and practitioners in the country.

At the conclusion of the program, students will have the option to create a thesis project (an original creative work), a thesis paper (a work of original scholarship), or take a comprehensive exam. This freedom allows students to choose the path that works best for them.

What Drew You to the Discipline?
I first became interested in learning about digital technology when I was in graduate school. I took a class on the DVD (both as a technology and as a new form of media) and I was hooked. But before that I was always interested in fiddling around with pieces of technology, always looking for new ways to play with the media. When I started my PhD, I realized that what most interested me wasn’t what was “new” at the time, but the fact that there was always something “new” – that the “new” was the most interesting part of new media!

I have two main areas of interest in my research. The first is new media and technology – I explore the concept of “new” and how that plays a part in understanding the connections between types of technologies. For example, I love looking at the latest social media sites and uncovering the ways they’re connected (literally and figuratively) to past technologies.

My other area of research is media fandom – the exploration of cult media texts (sci-fi, horror, fantasy, etc) and the way individuals and groups become enamored with those texts. Fandom is itself a form of devotion, and I research where that devotion comes from and what it means in the contemporary media environment.

Why Do You Teach at DePaul?
DePaul is fabulous place to work because it allows its faculty to explore topics of particular interest to them and immediately implement that scholarship into the classroom. I can spend a year researching and writing a book and then the next quarter teach that same topic to students. It means students can stay immediately up-to-date with whatever their faculty are working on.

I choose DePaul because of its inclusiveness, it’s openness to new ideas, and the friendliness of the faculty. I’ve never had a bad day at work here and I always look forward to what the future will bring. The students are fun and exciting to work with – they are a constant reminder of the joys of learning and teaching.

What Makes Chicago a Special City to You?
Chicago offers so much for so many people – music, art, museums, food ... the list goes on. I love the variety that Chicago offers – it’s like 50 different cities all in one. I love the opportunities the city presents – there’s so much going on here it’s impossible not to find something to do. And I love the beer. Man, Chicago has some awesome beer.