Civic Media (MA)
Time to degree: three semesters + thesis (30 credits)
Today's real-world challenges require innovative, effective and engaging communication solutions. Many nonprofit organizations, community groups, government agencies, corporations, media houses and art centers are looking for creatives who can use media platforms to advance social change.
Columbia College Chicago's MA in Civic Media equips students with a broad range of media skills so they can stimulate community action and civic engagement. Join a diverse pool of socially engaged media artists, journalists, educators, producers, information designers, entrepreneurs, and civic-minded professionals. Together, we will strengthen democratic participation, shape public policy, and inspire social change.
The program is fitted to your interests and goals; you can decide which skills to leverage from our offer of elective classes in production, social entrepreneurship, and strategic communication. Simultaneously, you will work on a community project that will guide your practical and theoretical learning of civic media. You'll learn to design, implement and assess a project-based solution that addresses real community needs in a setting and context aligned with the social impact you wish to see. Through our core civic media classes, you will build relationships with community leaders, strengthen your social communication skills and explore media solutions to quality-of-life issues.
Inside and Outside the Classroom
What to expect your first semester
Our curriculum stresses both theory and practice. You’ll take four courses in your first semester. In our graduate seminar course, you will study theories of peacebuilding, mediation, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s nonviolent activism. Guest speakers drawn from our community partnerships will teach you how to put those ideals into practice. You’ll also take courses in solutions journalism and leadership to strengthen your research acumen and learn to manage collaborative projects.
What to expect your last semester
You’ll be enrolled in Civic Media Thesis during your last semester. In this hands-on capstone course, you will work with two faculty advisors as you choose your thesis. The thesis can be a community project where you join an organization to either design or produce media that supports the organization and its community. Alternatively, you can conduct a research thesis where you will evaluate an existing civic media project. You'll be ready to create your Civic Media Thesis with the experience and knowledge developed in our courses in production, research, and leadership taken during your first two semesters. Upon graduation, you will be able to design, execute and evaluate the impact of a civic media project and communicate it effectively.
Work while completing your degree
Columbia College Chicago offer this unique online experience for working professionals in mind around the globe. Courses are 8-7 week long a-synchronous for four semesters.
Civic Media MA - 31 credits required
Core Requirements (12 credits)
COMM 503 Civic Media and Participatory Culture
COMM 519 Communication for Community-Driven Leadership
COMM 520 Media Ecosystems
COMM 567 Civic Tech, Policy and Urban Development
Civic Research (9 credits)
COMM 555 Civic Data Analytics and Impact Communication
INMD 508 Information Visualization
JOUR 564 Solution Journalism: Investigating Social Impact
Practicum & Thesis (4 credits)
COMM 601 Civic Media Practicum
COMM 691 Thesis
Design & Production (6 credits)
JOUR 567 Solutions Journalism Lab
JOUR 599 Topics in Storytelling for Social Change
Careers in Civic Media and Alumni Achievements
A MA in Civic Media is the doorway to a variety of career paths that combine digital media with social change. If you're a young professional pursuing a career in media production use the degree to demonstrate your ability to tackle social issues through digital media. If you're a professional with experience in civic engagement the program will leverage the skills and partnership-building you need to succeed as a social leader.
- Media Arts & Community Engagement: Creating media as a form of community engagement.
- Marley Molkentin (2021) published her civic media practicum in the online publication Disability Visibility Project.
- Francia Garcia Hernandez (2022) published her story about a bilingual children’s book in Block Club Chicago.
- Social Advocacy & Digital Design: Designing data to inform and advance awareness of social issue.
- Dean Straus (2020) works as a communication director at Autism Self-Advocacy Network and designed a CTA station for a Columbia marketing campaign.
- Jordyn Harrison (2022) worked with Chicago-based agency OKRP on the Black Shop Friday entrepreneurial initiative in West Chicago.
- Youth Media & Media Literacy Education: Teaching youth to create media and be fluent in media consumption and production.
- Rosey Hayett (2021) is the director of NM Film prize Jr., a youth media film festival.
- Peter Midwa (2022) is the a media educator co-founder of Mtoto News, a scholastic journalism organization in Nairobi, Kenya.
- Engaged Journalism & Documentary: Reporting on social issues to drive change.
- Shelby Hawkins (2021) works at NPR Morning Edition in Washington D.C.
- Kyra Lyons (2022) works at Aldo Leopold Foundation and published her work on environmental justice.
The MA in Civic Media program draws on faculty expertise from across Columbia College Chicago. Our faculty members are active practitioners in various media fields and have established links with ongoing civic media projects.
- Jennifer Baker, Adjunct faculty, Interactive Arts Media
- Hakim Belabbes, Filmmaker at HAK Films
- Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin, Professor, Communication
- Alexandra Esenler, Programs & Ops at OpenArchive and Projects & Dev at Global Voices
- Peter Fitzpatrick, Professor, Photography & Special Advisor Community Engagement
- Yonty Friesem, Associate Professor, Communication
- Robert Hanserd, Associate Professor, Humanities, History, and Social Sciences
- Martha Irvine, National Writer and Visual Journalist at The Associated Press
- Curtis Lawrence, Associate Professor, Communication
- Elio Leturia, Associate Professor, Communication
- Jessica Meharry, Interim Director of Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Dave Pabellon, Assistant Professor, Design
- Jackie Spinner, Associate Professor, Communication
- Jeffrey Spitz, Associate Professor, Cinema and Television Arts