Troy Elias is one of 21 new faculty members who joined the SOJC faculty fall term. Dr. Elias joined us from University of Florida to teach advertising. He brings a new perspective on emergent media and issues of diversity to the SOJC.
What brought you to Eugene? Why the SOJC over other journalism schools?
This is one of the best jobs in the country, especially as it relates to teaching advertising. There is great leadership at the SOJC with Chambers Professor Deb Morrison, Interim Dean Julie Newton and former Dean Tim Gleason. I’ve heard really good things about the students here, and I have found that out to be true myself. They are very engaged, energetic and involved in campus activities. There is an opportunity here to do great things.
Tell us about your research – viral marketing processes at the intersection of interpersonal and mass communication in online environment.
I look at the impact of appealing to consumers based on their identity and the effect that this has on the overall American culture. I’m interested in human behavior. I think there is no better way of understanding behavior or getting insight into it then through advertising. Advertising is just the vehicle I use to understand why people do what they do. I think it’s an extremely creative, dynamic field. There is a lot of currency in being culturally aware and — in terms of the advertising culture — that makes it easy to bring that content to class.
What has influenced your work?
My experiences moving from different environments. I moved from the Caribbean where it is so diverse that we never even talk about it because that’s just the way it is. People of different hues from different cultural backgrounds all merging — it’s a cultural melting pot. I moved to the U.S. and went to South Carolina to attend Clafin University, a historically black university, and then moved to The Ohio State University — a predominately white institution — for my master’s degree. Having those mix of experiences — where identity meant so many different things in different contexts — has really shaped the way I view the world and the research I do.
What are your goals at the SOJC?
I want to make a difference – that is my number one goal. It’s challenging being a teacher because you never really know the wheels you set in motion until years later when you get an email from a former student saying that what I taught in class helped in that student’s career. Also helping students get into graduate school, or find internships, or jobs. Those things really matter to me.
The SOJC is built on the fundamentals of ethics, innovation and action. How do you think you’ll embody these ideals while you’re here?
Given my focus on race and inner-city culture, I have ethical concerns about targeting harmful products to ethnic minorities who may not necessarily have the structural components to help fend off the negative consequences of using products. There are huge ethical opportunities to address those concerns with my research and with my teaching.
My work centers not just on diversity but also on emergent media, and practically everything I do involves innovation of some sort. In terms of action, I am very much interested in outreach with industry. My work doesn’t focus only on theoretical aspects of diversity, new media, race, and identity, but on the professional application of the ideas and concepts that we talk about in class.
Do you have any advice for SOJC students?
Take big risks. If there is a dream that you have — go for it. The horizon gets smaller as you get older. Now is the best time if you want to pursue a career in fashion or design or advertising. If you want to, move to New York, Chicago or Seoul. Wherever you want to go, this is the best time to do it, while you are young and energetic. Chase your dreams.
Written by Katie MacLean ’15