Story and photos by Carleigh Oeth
The University of Oregon is currently home to 15 academic residential communities, which are living environments designed to offer students a unique way to learn and pursue their passions.
In fall 2017, the UO School of Journalism and Communication is adding the “Media and Social Action” ARC to the list.
The new ARC will explore the theme of social change in the digital world and act as an intellectual space where students can collaboratively strengthen their skills in communication and digital technology while pursuing their passion for social issues. The community presents an open invitation to all incoming first-year students, both freshmen and transfers, who hold a particular interest in these areas of study.
The idea behind the new ARC, said SOJC Assistant Professor Ed Madison, is to provide a framework for students who are passionate about social action but might not have the strategic communication skills or resources necessary to implement such changes.
“We’re looking to attract and support those who come here with some prior interest in media [and action] so that they have a way to meet and study along with students who share those interests,” Madison said. “A school where they can get started their freshman year is very appealing.”
The Media and Social Action ARC will be located in the new residence hall currently under construction near Global Scholars Hall. It will share the space with ARCs sponsored by three other departments: the School of Law, Architecture and Allied Arts and Native American Studies. While the four communities will be programmatically separate, the hall will provide an environment where all residents can collaborate.
According to Kevin Hatfield, UO’s director of academic, residential and research initiatives, the residence hall will include specialized production spaces dedicated to each department. Hatfield speculates, for example, that the SOJC aims to incorporate a video production suite, while AAA is looking into a “hacker-makerspace.”
“Regardless of which ARC students are in, they will all be able to use these different spaces,” Hatfield said. “They could all work together on a project if they want to.”
Prospective Media and Social Action residents will enroll in four required courses during their year of residence. Three of the courses will be lectures that pivot on the ARC’s theme, such as “Power Politics and Inequality,” taught by political science Associate Professor Alison Gash or “Media and Social Change,” taught by the SOJC’s Madison. The fourth required course is a yearlong seminar series with SOJC Instructor Charlie Butler.
“The ARC seminar that Charlie would teach, that’s really the backbone of the ARC,” Hatfield said. “That’s where the relationships really start to emerge.”
Students will be able to decide their own level of involvement outside of the required courses, but are encouraged to work collaboratively so they can establish a close community. A central advantage of this ARC is the possibility of developing projects for social action, through both digital and nondigital means.
“There’s an opportunity for the group to create an identity around being a part of the community,” Madison said. “If they want to host events, or do a publication — it’s completely wide open.”
For incoming students in search of 2017 housing, the Media and Social Action ARC is now an option on the UO housing application. In addition to the primary housing submission, prospective students must fill out a supplementary application with a few short essay questions about their experience and interest in the ARC.
Although applications will continue to be accepted through summer, students are advised to apply by the priority deadline on April 1 to ensure a position in the ARC of their choice. Butler will contact applicants between April 1 and June 12 to ensure they understand what the ARC involves.
Carleigh Oeth is a senior studying journalism in the SOJC. She is from Portland, Oregon, where she held an editorial internship with the city’s local arts magazine, Artslandia, during the summer of 2016. This is her first year as a part of the SOJC’s Communications team, and she is also working as an associate editor for the Daily Emerald. You can view some of her work on her online portfolio and visit her on Instagram @carleighoeth.