Click here for a sampling of student projects across these courses

New Media Audiences and Emerging Markets (RMA)

Tagging of newlyweds, downloading the latest movies, teens flirting on social network sites and virtual gaming may seem like typical behavior in the West; yet in the context of a town in Mali or a slum in Mumbai, it is seen as unusual and perhaps an anomaly in their new media practice. The fact is, as emerging economies globalize and urbanize exponentially, their users are becoming more critical consumers and creative contributors of digital content or ‘prosumers’ and arguably free laborers instead of classic development beneficiaries. We no longer can talk about internet practices in the West as normative given that emerging markets have surpassed the wealthier nations in terms of internet users. Hence, to talk of global and representative practice, we need to expand our frames of reference, revisit sacred discourses and Western-biased rubrics of digital design and practice. A paradigm shift is needed in approaching new media audiences with a more global-oriented, open-ended and pluralistic perspective. This seminar takes as a starting point popular discourses in new media studies, primarily shaped by Western concerns, contexts and concepts, and juxtaposes them against web 2.0 users in emerging markets. This opens up critical discussions on key topics such as prosumption, online privacy/surveillance, digital labor/leisure, social media activism, and search engine research. This is essential for students to be able to position their research and target audience on a more globally-architected digital and cultural landscape.

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Media & Business Transformations (MA)

A decade ago, a travel agent was a legitimate job. Today, this line of employment has become redundant with online sites such as kayak, priceline and expedia allowing customers to shop virtually for competitive pricing. This captures not just a shift in the nature of employment, but possibly the birth of a new worldview, corporate ideology, management, and customer relations strategy in the tourism sector where certain intermediaries have become digital. In fact, change seems to be occurring across different industries with the advent of new media: we use mobile phones to check-in at airports through SMS barcodes; customers willingly watch ads in exchange for free television shows offered online by media companies; cancer patients verify treatment choices through online support groups; prostitutes use online platforms to significantly increase their revenue. These shifts are however not necessarily unprecedented in the business world. If we look back, older information and communication media such as print, the radio and television have played a part in the shaping of diverse business models. Additionally, it is worth considering to what extent media transforms the business culture in its varied dimensions - legal, socio-cultural, economic and political. Also, how are companies’ online business presence syncing with their brick-and-mortar entities? Thereby, this course serves to create a historical and cultural overview of the role of information and communication media in the business sector and the opportunity to critically assess claims on radical shifts in organizational work practices and spaces. This includes a reexamining of the dichotomy between virtual and real business in our current digitally-mediated environments. To do so, we look closely at the complex relations between the state, the market and the public. To best situate such overarching understandings of the relations between business and media, this course applies theory to real world business news, trends, and events concerning the Web 2.0. Emphasis will be placed on emerging markets and their usage of media to restructure their role in the global economy. Overall, the intent of this course is to gain a more critical perspective on the role of media in the shaping of businesses across cultures, histories and contexts.

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Communication Management (BA)

T-mobile succeeds in creating a YouTube viral video by capitalizing on the already viral flashmob videos online. Marc Jacobs gains a loyal following on Twitter through his personable tweets. KLM, currently the undisputed European king of social media for airlines designs a media campaign encouraging people to ‘stewardess’ themselves, gaining significant attention with well over 55,000 new fans on Facebook in just 7 days. Whether it is the electronics, fashion or the transportation sector, all markets seem infected and challenged by new communications rising in this Web 2.0 era. However, most organizations are in the stage of experimenting with their communications and some are deeply hesitant to go into this new arena. Have business models transformed radically with the promulgation of new media? For instance, is Barnes & Noble a redundant business now with the growth of Amazon? How should Starbucks respond to customer complaints on their Twitter feed? Do customers want more personalization from their companies via social media and if so, in what ways? And how does new media impact business to business (B2B) relationships? Whether it is the innovating of new business communication or the managing and expansion of current practice, such concerns loom large. Further, the concept of ‘international’ business has expanded from the conventional notions of having operations in different countries to catering to transnational and cross-cultural clients and establishing business relations across national boundaries. With Twitter, Facebook, Skype, Wordpress, Foursquare and other applications and tools entering the market, businesses are deeply pressured to consider new media to communicate to stay on top of their game. In this course, students serve as ‘consultants’ on new media communication. The goal is for students to create a social media business proposal to enhance the organization’s communication strategies using new media that helps them be more effective.

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ICT and Emerging Markets (BA)

The field of international development has witnessed a major shift in recent years, following the coming of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). As a consequence, new concepts, all ICT-driven have emerged. They include telemedicine, mobile learning, mobile banking, One Laptop Per Child, SMS- or Web-based Market Information System, to name a few. They all reflect a new trend in policies, strategies and approaches to development, the theory and practice of which are still to be fully grasped. This seminar offers a critical, analytical, and practical insight into the various ways in which international development policy makers and agencies have integrated ICTs in poverty alleviation initiatives and assess their potential of success. The seminar focuses on the following key development areas: education (in the broader sense), healthcare, rural entrepreneurship (income-generating activities), economic livelihood, and banking (and related services). While exploring these areas, students are invited to go beyond the surface (the hype) to critically consider underlying issues such as gender equity, sustainability, and participation.

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