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Students create new futures with Digital Culture Initiative

March 22, 2010

Imagine an undergraduate degree program focused on exploring, creating and adapting the leading edge of digital tools and environments within a highly flexible, multidisciplinary curriculum that allows students choices based on their interests and goals.

Now, place this program within a fully-mediated facility that constantly adapts to the needs of the projects investigated by emerging networks of collaborating students and faculty.

This potential has become reality at the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts with the newly announced Digital Culture Initiative, a new undergraduate degree emphasis focusing on the investigation and development of digital-based tools and environments that play an ever-increasing role throughout contemporary society. The Digital Culture Initiative enrolls its first class in the fall of 2010 and launches a curriculum that allows students to design a unique educational path to graduation. The institute plans to propose a minor and certificate to complement the degree emphasis.

“Our evolving digital culture allows people to connect in ways that transcend traditional concepts of space and communication,” said Kwang-Wu Kim, dean and director of the Herberger Institute. “The Digital Culture Initiative positions students and faculty to imagine and invent solutions to the new challenges created by our new hybrid reality we face today.”

Undergraduate students are able to pursue the Bachelor of Arts in the Arts or Bachelor of Arts in Design Studies degrees with an emphasis in Digital Culture. Through a partnership with seven ASU schools and colleges, the curriculum is made up of courses that prepares students with tangible skills in new media as well as skills to be thought leaders in our digital world.

“Digital Culture provides students with a stellar, contemporary liberal arts education that gives them a set of skills that are highly desirable in the workplace over the next 40 years,” said Thanassis Rikakis, director of the Herberger Institute School of Arts, Media and Engineering. “Students explore and create processes and artifacts that shape their daily experience. Interactive creative experiences, portable media, peer networks and content sharing tools, interactive creative experiences and portable media are the core content of the study rather than simply tools for study of traditional content.”

The Digital Culture Initiative offers specially designed courses from across the Herberger Institute’s seven schools as well as the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the W. P. Carey School of Business, the Mary Lou Fulton Institute and Graduate School of Education, the College of Teacher Education and Leadership, and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Using a customizable interactive course and path planner, students are able to map out their path to graduation based on their subject interests and long-term aspirations.

If a student with an interest or background in art and film would like to investigate interactive animation, they can design a multi-year educational path to allow them to graduate with a wide set of core proficiencies that employers like Pixar Animation Studios or Electronic Arts find appealing. If that student finds midway that their interests have changed based on a dance, engineering or education class, they are able to adjust their path to accommodate their new goals.

A state-of-the-art facility for new media work is being developed and is scheduled to open in January 2011. The facility brings under one roof all necessary infrastructure for the development of hybrid, physical-digital cultural systems and experiences in a sustainable educational environment.

For more information on the Digital Culture Initiative, please visit