Webster Leiden Campus: The state of media in today’s global world
Webster Leiden Campus is an American university based in Leiden. Their mission in the Netherlands is to enrich the lives of global citizens by offering a flexible, innovative and practical education in a culturally diverse setting.
We had a talk with the coordinator of the Media Communications department, Daria Tuminas, about the programme, as well as the state of media in today’s global world:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What is your role at Webster Leiden Campus?
I am a freelance curator and researcher, working mainly with the medium of photography. At the moment, I work for half of the week as the Head of the Unseen Book Market for the photography festival and fair Unseen Amsterdam. The other half of the week, I work as the coordinator of the Media Communications department at Webster Leiden Campus / Webster University USA.
At the Webster Leiden Campus, I create the academic programme, plan the schedule and invite interesting experts to teach. Besides this, I also initiate collaborations between the department and other campuses and departments, as well as local cultural initiatives and organisations.
Currently, one of my most exciting assignments is developing the graduate programme in New Media Production, which will be launched in 2019. We will be focusing on digital storytelling and one of the most crucial aspects of media today - cohabitation of multiple media (like video, photography, text, design etc.) on a variety of platforms (like a book, an app, a website etc.) within one project.
What is the current state of media today? How does media work in today’s global world?
That’s a big subject - some of the best minds, artists, philosophers, curators, media theorists etc. are discussing it today. I would like to bring up just two little aspects of this broad discourse.
Media is invisible
First of all, due to the media fatigue, we stop actually looking at images, reading texts, and rather share, scroll, like. With the scary numbers of material being uploaded online, it simply stays largely unseen.
Secondly, if we talk about digital images, what is relevant is the data that they carry, not only what is on their surface, and this data is also something that people don’t see and are not aware of.
And thirdly, there is the whole political and economic dimension behind media, which is sometimes very intentionally hidden from mass users.
Due to the media fatigue, we stop actually looking at images, reading texts, and rather share, scroll, like.
A new era of global internet
It’s also important to mention that on the 22nd of February 2018, Elon Musk launched the Falcon 9 rocket that included SpaceX’s first two "Starlink" internet satellites. This will kick off a new era of the global internet as we know it.
These are both exciting and challenging times for media - its role, perception, creation and distribution will change dramatically. People who work with media need to start thinking about the changes this initiative will bring.
Webster offers a BA Media Communications. What is so special about this particular programme?
The BA Media Communications programme is very hands on, practice-oriented and introduces three tracks - Film, Television, and Video Production; Photography; and Interactive Digital Media. Besides gaining skills in using cameras, light, visual storytelling etc., students also have a number of core courses related to the theory of media - Ethics in the Media, The Law and the Media etc.
Faculty of experts
What defines the programme, apart from its structure, is, of course, the people. We have a great faculty of experts who all actively work in their fields, are connected to both local and global networks and markets, and can introduce these to students.
To name just a few: the film / new media artist, researcher, and curator Tina Bastajian, who has exhibited internationally in festivals, galleries, museums, and symposia from San Francisco International Film Festival or CinemaEast NYC in the USA to IDFA and the Pompidou Centre in Europe. She teaches Experimental Film and Video and Introduction to Media Production, and is actively taking students on field trips to festivals and events.
Or John Loughlin, who was the founding chair of cinematography, a year-long master’s-level programme at the New York Film Academy. He currently operates the Amsterdam Cinematography Lab, and teaches Camera and Light and Introduction to Film, Television, and Video Production at Webster Leiden Campus.
How big and how diverse are the classes?
At the moment, we have 28 students studying at the department, which makes the educational process very personalised.
Groups are normally composed of around 7-10 students. The Global Citizenship Programme courses, such as, for example, Introduction to Media Production or Cultural Diversity in the Media, welcome students from other departments, so these classes may be slightly fuller (around 15 people in total).
Diverse cultural backgrounds
Students have very diverse cultural backgrounds - you can find people from Ghana, Kazakhstan, Finland, France, South Africa, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the USA, and any other country you can imagine, in one class.
Does the department organise any special activities for students?
Special activities are simply necessary to connect students with the outer world and with the experts working within media. I’ll just name a few initiatives:
- Long-term collaboration with Leiden Short Film Festival. The campus will host the whole talks section of the Festival programme. Students will be helping with the documentation of the festival, and representatives of the festival will teach a course on short films in the 2018 - 2019 academic year and the resulting works will be screened in the 2019 edition of the festival.
- We hope to develop a collaboration with the photography museum in Amsterdam, Huis Marseille, where one of the photographers holds a workshop specifically for Webster students each time they present an exhibition.
The BA Media Communications programme is very hands on, practice oriented and introduces three different tracks!
- An artist residency programme at Webster Leiden Campus, which we plan to launch in the fall of 2018. The first guests will be the organisers of The Expert Photobook Review, and the work completed during the residency will be shown at an exhibition in Leiden, and will be followed by a live event at Unseen Amsterdam.
- Collaboration with departments at other campuses. For example, with the Media Communications and Photography Department in Geneva, we will create an exhibition from students’ work from both campuses that will be shown in the Netherlands and in Switzerland.
- Documentary Today: Transmedia and Collaboration. Webster Leiden Campus and Transformations welcomed everyone (students and visitors from outside the University) to attend informal meetings with experts from the documentary field. During these events, we met with:
- Rebecca Simons, an independent curator and educator of photography and art-related projects and coordinator of Transformations.
- Eefje Blankevoort, co-founder of the journalism production company Prospektor.
- Anoek Steketee, documentary photographer and filmmaker.
- Bas Vroege, the director of Paradox, a non-profit organisation developing projects around contemporary issues with documentary authors.
- Clément Saccomani, the director of the international documentary agency and foundation NOOR.
- Hans Gremmen, graphic designer.
- Ad van Denderen, photographer.
What kind of careers can graduates of this programme look forward to?
Graduates with a degree in Media Communication have many career options:
- Television and video production
- Writing for media
- Media marketing
- Public relations
- Work within artistic or documentarian contexts using media such as film and photography
Webster ensures high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence. For more information about their BA Media Communications programme or any other questions you may have, feel free to contact them.
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