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Faculty Discuss New Degrees

By Elaine Wan
Staff Reporter

The faculty met to consider motions to create two new masters programs in Comparative Media Studies and a joint degree program in Ocean Engineering and Marine Environmental Systems. The faculty will vote whether to approve those programs at the next faculty meeting. President Charles M. Vest also discussed the ongoing efforts resulting from last year's sense of the faculty resolution on freshman life.

"I've seen the future of Media Studies at MIT and it works," said Professor and Director of Film and Media Studies Henry Jenkins. The program was created in response to the development of new technologies in the media environment.

"MIT should take responsibility for educating the next generation of scholars, teachers, journalists, political and corporate leaders for the decisions that will shape media and society in the coming century," the proposal said.

The Masters of Science in Comparative Media Studies Program would fall within Department of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. The program will examine the history and future of mediated communication and emphasize the "impact of cultural and social factors on media studies," Jenkins said.

Professor Jenkins said that he expected the program to attract students of diverse backgrounds, from Computer Science to Management. The design of the courses offered in the program will encourage collaboration among different disciplines.

Similar programs have been developed at other educational institutions like University of Wisconsin-Madison, New York University and the University of South Carolina, he said.

New engineering Masters pushed

The Department of Ocean Engineering and the Department of Applied Physics and Ocean Engineering at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute proposed creating a Joint Degree Program in Ocean Engineering and in Marine Environmental Systems which would lead to a Masters of Engineering in Ocean Engineering.

The program will train "students in the understanding and managing complex systems and focus on the multidisciplinary nature of ocean-related environmental problems," the proposal said.

Also, at the meeting President Vest presented an update on the amended sense of the faculty resolution on freshman and undergraduate life passed in November. Vest stressed that "an introduction of freshman to MIT should be characterized by a proper orientation to the Institute's academic environment."

He said that the focus of next year's Orientation will shift away from residential life to academic life. He said that the program would balance a number of interests and provide new students with a view of living and learning at MIT. In an attempt to strengthen ties between faculty and students, Vest proposed a new program which would have faculty members to call incoming freshmen. "To make a phone call makes a great deal of difference," he said.

Edgerton Award Presented

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Steven B. Leeb '87 was named the winner of this year's prestigious Edgerton Award for research and teaching. Leeb received four degrees at MIT and has done extensive research on polymer gels and megatronics. Leeb was described by Professor of Management Richard M. Locke PhD '89 as a "cracker jack" teacher. Leeb has taught Circuits and Electronics, Signals and Systems and the Advanced Megatronics Lab.