By Julie Thompson
If Adrian Bowman could change one thing about GGC, he would create more fine arts degrees. Bowman leads a busy lifestyle — he is the manager at a local movie theatre and began taking his core classes at GGC this semester. Like many commuter students, he values the convenient aspects of GGC. The drive home is under half an hour, classes are small and tuition is affordable. He wants to be a chorus teacher, but music is one of the many majors that GGC does not offer. In fact, GGC offers no Fine Arts degrees at all. Although this is not unusual for young colleges — Kennesaw State, for instance did not offer a music program until the school’s 17th anniversary — GGC faces an unprecedented roadblock in a new state policy. A degree proposal follows a process similar to a constitutional bill’s path — it passes through various chambers within the Board of Regents, and might be returned to the professors for revision. “Dr. Rusnak and I are working on a major proposal, but it’s not film,” said Assistant Professor of Film Dr. Danielle Williams.
“We have to justify why we need a new program.” Dr. Santos, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts, referred to film faculty’s latest brainchild as “Entertainment and Emerging Media Studies.” He declared this major proposal is one of the two Liberal Arts degrees in planning stages. Dr. Williams elaborated on this ‘Entertainment and Emerging Media Studies course (EEMS): “It’s going to include television, film, new media, social networking. The title is still in the air, but we’re looking at more of a Media Industries type of major at GGC.” The research team — Dr. Rusnak, Dr. Williams and Dr. Rybin — brainstormed the program in spring 2014, according to Dr. Rusnak.
Some approval processes take more than two years, but Dr. Williams is hopeful; if all goes well, the new degree could be offered as early as Fall semester 2016, she said. Danielle Williams elaborated on the ‘Entertainment and Emerging Media Studies’ course (EEMS), “ It’s going to include Television, film, new media, social networking. The title is still in the air, but we’re looking at more of a Media Industries type of major at GGC,” Dr. Williams said of the multidisciplinary program. If approved, EEMS will utilize resources from numerous departments including Film, Music, Art, English, Sociology, and Business, and Music. But EEMS will not provide the kind of music education Adrian Bowman had in mind. EEMS would include music courses with a multimedia approach. “So if you’re interested in music, say music history or sound in film and TV– that’s the idea with this course; the art, the sociology will feed into media content and support it that way, ” Dr. Rusnak said.
Bowman is interested in performance based-music studies. He found a passion for music in his elementary school’s chorus class, and pursued music in high school. Bowman will transfer to Kennesaw State University to follow his dream. Research for EEMS was partly driven by three specific items listed in The Program Prospectus’ guidelines.
1) Non Duplicity: USG will not approve courses that closely resemble programs offered at nearby USG schools.
2) Economic Need: A degree that teaches students skills demanded by local industries will likely be successful. Faculty are required to include State and regional occupation projections and to include GA department of Labor data to show local job opportunities for graduates of the hypothetical program.
3) Student Demand: In the past, some approved programs failed because students did not enroll in the course. For ‘EEMS’ , film faculty surveyed Film 1005 students. Dr. Williams will administer a survey to Business, Sociology, Film, Art and English classes this October.
“So if you’re interested in music, say the music history or sound in film and TV, that’s the idea with this course; the art, the sociology will feed into media content and support it that way,” said Dr. Rusnak. The EEMS proposal includes information on the construction of four Gwinnett entertainment studios, which will create a demand for trained workers. “Most of our students live in Gwinnett County, so if our students live in this area and stay in this area and then work at these studios, and they are still living in this area and contributing to the the community in multiple ways economically and providing community support and outreach,” said Dr. Williams.
“That’s partly why we didn’t want to call it a film major, because GSU and UGA both have film,” said Dr. Williams. GGC’s faculty have planned an unorthodox media study. EEMS will utilize resources from numerous departments. If approved, this multidisciplinary major will include courses in Film, Music, Art, English, Sociology, and Business classes that relate to both the production and critical thinking aspects of media production. Catch 22: GGC is a school oriented around its students, so if students want new courses badly enough, the faculty are likely to accommodate them. Many professors are eager to prepare new courses.
Unfortunately, many students won’t attend GGC because it doesn’t offer their major. “GGC hasn’t incorporated many, if any, music programs or extracurricular activities, groups or clubs. Originally this deterred me from attending this college,” said Adrian Bowman, 20. Bowman found a passion for music in his elementary school’s chorus class. He pursued music in high school, and now aspires to be a chorus teacher. To follow his dream, Bowman will transfer to a school with a fully developed music program after completing his core classes at GGC.
In the meantime, Bowman hopes to take advantage of GGC’s extracurricular opportunities. He was excited about the chance to socialize with other musical students. “I did not know we had music clubs at GGC. I’ll look them up on the school website,” said Bowman. That is exactly what Dr. Williams would suggest. She advises students whose academic passion is not offered at GGC to “reach out and do things for free.” “Hopefully down the line, there will be enough opportunity for a focus so that students can do this major,” said Dr. Rusnak, “maybe the idea is to help other programs to develop minors that could support their interests. So if students are in interested in music, then they could do both.”