We experience our everyday lives through a variety of cultural artifacts and discourses including news reporting, law and public policy, commodity markets, popular music, films and television shows, advertisements, museum displays, landscape and urban design, and health and identity documentation systems. How can we understand the histories and changing practices associated with these forms of representation? What is the role of media (print, visual, electronic, material) in forming ideas about social identity and in shaping subjectivity? This part of the curriculum draws on the humanities, anthropology, history, political theory, cultural studies and the sociology of culture to offer students a range of methods and theoretical frameworks for interpreting the production and circulation of artifacts, discourses, and meanings in a range of local, national, transnational, and diasporic cultural contexts.
Our experience as human beings is created by the communicative practices of the societies in which we live and the cultural practices of our families and communities with which we interact from the earliest days of life. The Communication and the Person area of the curriculum examines, with a sociocultural lens, the role of communication through language and other organized symbolic media. Because both individuals and their environments are constantly changing, the study of culture and the person pays special attention to the cultural and historical contexts of personal experience and the practices that constitute the proximal environments of individual development. This part of the curriculum draws particularly on the fields of anthropology, sociology, psychology, linguistics, cognitive science, and education to examine such processes as learning and cognition, language structure and language use, the construction and negotiation of meaning, and the organization of mental worlds.
The Social Force area of the curriculum focuses on the structural context of communication: the media as social institutions, their relation to the state, the market, and other social institutions, media ownership and labor in cultural industries, communication law and policy, the structural context and effects of information technology, political communication and issues of media and democracy. As in all parts of the curriculum, in different ways, there is a strong focus on structures of power, and how they shape and are shaped by institutions and technologies of communication. Faculty in Communication as a Social Force work with approaches drawn from political economy and media sociology as well as ethnographic studies of the production of culture. In recent years new faculty have extended the range of perspectives in this area by putting traditional forms of political economy and political sociology into dialogue with new bodies of theory on gender, race and post-colonial societies. As in other areas of the curriculum, there is a strong emphasis on processes of globalization, and faculty research interests cover a number of different regions of the world.
Our program considers and applies multiple, cross-disciplinary and cross genre approaches to media practice. We ask our PhD students to consider the many areas of production, including the traditional areas of video, film, photography, radio and music, emerging networked media forms including games and web-based applications, as well as performance, ethnography, poetry, installation, and environmental art. We understand that media methods offer unique expressive possibilities as well as necessary opportunities for critical engagement in the areas of culture, social force and communication and the person. We offer PhD students the opportunity to do significant work in production. A media project may serve as one of the two qualifying papers and media may comprise a significant component of a PhD student’s dissertation work. All students are required to complete one course in Media Practice (COGR 280) that addresses one form of media practice through an intensive combination of theoretical, technical and hands-on instruction.
The University of California, San Diego attempts in every way possible to assist its graduate students with their financial needs. All entering students are urged to seek financial assistance within the university and through appropriate granting agencies such as the National Science Foundation or National Endowment for the Humanities. Applications for financial assistance should be submitted as early as possible; competition is intense and the deadlines are set early in the year.
The department attempts to fund entering students in their first year of graduate study, but funds are limited by complex university formulas. A combination of tuition and fee waivers, stipends, and teaching assistantships are the norm.