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Film studies major says ‘action’

By Michael Ittu, For The Miami Student

This January, students may finally be able to officially declare Film Studies as a major. After multiple proposals began to surface in support of the program becoming a major, the department's faculty decided to pursue the path of creating a film studies co-major in addition to the existing minor.

"We had a number of students over the years who expressed regret that we didn't have a major or co-major program in film studies, and I think that minors - where as they're a good program, and they satisfy the needs of a lot of students - the mere fact that you have a limited number of courses that you could include, limits the kinds of knowledge base that you can transfer to students," Associate Professor and Area Coordinator of the Film Studies Program Bruce Drushel said.

It is important to note that, while already being offered as a minor, the program will be offered as a co-major and will require students to choose a second major that is not also a co-major program. The film studies program, which now resides within the Department of Journalism, Media and Film, has been reshaped on several instances and has been considered by some to be nomadic - relocating on numerous occasions from multiple departments including English, History and Russian Studies.

"When we restructured the department of communications and the journalism program, we took in the film minor, and then our faculty decided that they wanted to make that into a major," Professor Dr. Richard Campbell, Chair of the Department of Media, Journalism and Film said.

The process for creating a new major can be. When a new co-major is first introduced, it must be approved on various levels - including all academic divisions of the university - before it can officially be declared a co-major.

Since the inception of a proposal suggesting a major change several years ago, the program has nearly completed its evaluation cycle and certified approval, and could be expected to be offered to students as soon as the 2014/2015 Winter Term. The current co-major proposal began in the fall of 2013.

Although there may appear to be major changes in the program's overall appearance, very little will be changing for those students interested in pursuing a film studies degree. Instead, much of the changes will occur in relation the program's curriculum and what it offers.

"There really isn't that much difference in view from the student's perspective," Drushel said. "From a curricular perspective at the university, the difference is that it does not have distinct writing and quantitative learning component to it. In other words those are things that are picked up in the other major, and that's why you can't be doing another co-major."

These changes and modifications to the Film Studies curriculum have opened the door to students who's previously declared major may be in a field other than Filmmaking, though nonetheless share a common passion for filmmaking.

Senior Jessie Motts is one example of such a student. Motts, a student in the College of Arts & Science majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in French, has found interest in filmmaking through some of the five film courses she has completed at Miami.

"I think the new Film Studies program will help to give students a more well-rounded knowledge of the expectations of the industry they hope to enter; by following a curriculum that combines criticism courses with production courses, students will understand not only how to produce films, but how their choices during production may influence the perceptions of their viewers," said Motts.

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Students interested in pursuing a Film Studies degree may also wish to consider the Inside Hollywood program - a three-week program offered during Winter Term and over the summer to students interested in obtaining an overview of the entertainment industry.