Queens, NY, May 27, 2014 -- Queens College of the City University of New York announces today that Douglas Rushkoff, the famed cyberculture expert who originated concepts such as "viral media" and "social currency," will be joining its faculty. This marks the first full-time academic role for the prolific media theorist, award-winning author, and documentarian, who is considered one of the most influential thinkers of the digital age. Starting this August, he will help lead the development of a new Master of Arts in Media Studies program that will address the technological and market forces that dominate our daily lives.
Rushkoff, who holds a PhD in New Media and Digital Culture, is the author of over a dozen best-selling books, the winner of the first Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity, and creator of four award-winning PBS "Frontline" documentaries on the cultural and societal impact of media and the media industry. A regular commentator for CNN, "CBS Sunday Morning," and NPR, he has shaped current thinking on topics such as corporatism, "digital natives" (another Rushkoff coinage), and distributed solutions to social problems – from Occupy to Bitcoin. His latest book, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now (2013) – described as "invaluable" by the New York Times – introduced the concept of the always-on "digital present-ism." His recent PBS documentary Generation Like (2014) explored the influence of social media on youth culture.
Rushkoff's move to academia reflects his interest in social justice and the need to build media literacy in the rapidly evolving global media environment. "This is a rally for consciousness," says Rushkoff. "The essential skill in a digital age is to understand the biases of the landscape – to be able to think critically and act purposefully with these tools – lest the tools and companies behind them use us instead."
"I wish to foster a deeper awareness and more purposeful implementation of media, and this can be best accomplished at a mission-driven public institution such as Queens College," says Rushkoff, a native of Queens who was inspired to join the school because of its rich legacy of social dialogue and engagement. "I want to teach a diverse range of students without putting them into lifelong debt. Besides, where better to work on media in the people's interest than a public university?"
"The college, with its unique community of students, creative artists, and scholars, has a tradition of cultivating a learning environment supportive of critical thinking and social consciousness," adds Media Studies Chair and Professor Richard Maxwell. "Rushkoff's contributions to current thinking in technology, media, and society are at the forefront of the evolving study of media. He's a great fit for our program and will complement our existing faculty in providing a transformative learning experience."
The new master's program aims to balance the theoretical and applied study of media to question conventional understanding of media technology, content, and audiences. It will rethink the media's role in urban development, economic justice, political activism, environmental responsibility, public policy and cultural identity. Students will be engaged in project-based learning and highly individualized courses of study.
Says Queens College's Interim President Evangelos Gizis, "Dr. Rushkoff joins a remarkable community of academics who are providing relevant and thoughtful learning to the next generation. Our success in attracting leading scholars such as Rushkoff is a reflection of the academic excellence that we have cultivated at Queens College."
"A pioneering media scholar such as Rushkoff joining our faculty helps us fulfill our mission," notes Dean of Arts and Humanities William McClure. "As a public institution, we're committed to providing students access to the best education possible irrespective of their socioeconomic status – including access to top thinkers in our nation."
Rushkoff joins the ranks of acclaimed scholars in emerging areas of study at Queens College, including department chair Maxwell, the co-author of Greening the Media (2012) who is a political economist and expert on cultural consumption and the environmental impact of media technology; and MA program director Mara Einstein, an expert in consumption and cause marketing.
Starting in August, Rushkoff will be teaching courses in propaganda and media theory. He plans to involve students in his continuing work as advisor for the digital literacy platform Codecademy and other New York startups, his books and documentaries, and the relaunch of his radio show, "The Media Squat", which models open source and collectivist approaches to social and economic challenges.
The new Master of Arts in Media Studies program begins offering courses this August and will welcome its first cohort in Spring 2015.
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About Douglas Rushkoff
Douglas Rushkoff emerged from the early 1990s cyberpunk movement to become one of the most influential media scholars and activists of the digital age. His books, articles, television documentaries, and radio programs promote critical engagement with digital technology, particularly in the face of global corporatism.
The originator of such terms and ideas as "viral media," "digital natives," and "social currency," Rushkoff is the author of 14 books on technology, media, and pop culture that have been translated into over 30 languages. He won the Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity and was named one of the 10 most important thought leaders in the world by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute and MIT.
His acclaimed bestseller Present Shock describes the post-temporal landscape of digital culture, while Program or Be Programmed helped launch the digital literacy movement. Life Inc: How Corporatism Conquered the World became a fundamental text of the Occupy movement, while his Nothing Sacred contributed to the current renaissance in Judaism as an "open source" tradition. His earlier books, such as Media Virus, Cyberia, and Playing the Future Coercion, also won widespread acclaim, including the Marshall McLuhan Award for media writing.
Rushkoff came to national attention for his PBS Frontline documentary The Merchants of Cool, which explored the relationship between marketers and teens. He followed up with The Persuaders, Digital Nation, and Generation Like, which explored the values and underlying economics of social media.
A technology commentator for CNN, Rushkoff regularly contributes to Discover, Hemispheres, and NPR, as well as to academic journals and counterculture magazines. He wrote the first syndicated column on cyberculture for the Guardian and the New York Times, and has appeared in media from "ABC Nightly News" to "The Colbert Report." He wrote three graphic novels and hosted the popular "The Media Squat" on WFMU. He lectures on media, society, and change around the world, from congressional hearings on digital literacy to the McTaggart Lecture in Edinburgh.
While an adjunct at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, Rushkoff founded the Narrative Lab, which explores storytelling in digital media. He has also taught media studies at The New School and has served as an advisor to companies started by his students and others, including Codecademy, Meetup, and Kandu.
Rushkoff holds a PhD in New Media and Digital Culture from Utrecht University, a Master of Fine Arts from California Institute of the Arts, and a Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University.
About the New Master of Arts Degree in Media Studies
The new 30-credit Master of Arts in Media Studies program combines theory, practice, and real-world projects designed by a community of media makers and researchers who are working to effect real-world changes with and through media. It offers a rigorous academic course of study and applied learning for scholars and practitioners looking to test their ideas, research critically, and engage purposefully with media.
About Queens College
Queens College of the City University of New York enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. With its graduate and undergraduate degrees, honors programs, and research and internship opportunities, the college helps its almost 20,000 students realize their potential in countless ways, assisted by an accessible, award-winning faculty. Located on a beautiful, 80-acre campus in Flushing, the college was cited this year in the Princeton Review as one of the nation's 378 "Best Value" colleges, thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and low tuition. In 2013, Washington Monthly ranked Queens College #1 among "Master's Universities" as a Best-Bang-for-the-Buck college and #2 nationwide among colleges that do the best job of helping non-wealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices. For more information, visit www.qc.cuny.edu