University discontinues Media Studies cluster

University Studies recently announced that the Media Studies cluster will no longer be offered at Portland State as of fall 2011.

University Studies recently announced that the Media Studies cluster will no longer be offered at Portland State as of fall 2011.

The discontinuation of the program represents a move toward consolidation of the University Studies department, which falls in line with the goals outlined in the 2009 and 2010 University  Studies Council final reports.

The University Studies Council is a Faculty Senate committee leading the process of consolidation and reorganization.

“A recommendation was made to redesign clusters,” said University Studies Director Sukhwant Jhaj. “It goes then through the curricular review process—the process that is used for all courses and programs that are approved here at PSU.”

The goals outlined in the council reports aim to provide an adequate number of University Studies courses for students each year, reconcile the varied disciplines and thematic cohesion of such courses and allow for an annual assessment of courses.

“This is a multi-year process,” Jhaj said. “We have been working over time to slowly reduce the number of clusters and increase cohesion.”

According to University Studies Assistant Director Katherine Barich, it is essentially a matter of taking smaller clusters and merging them into larger ones.

Jhaj said that the desire to consolidate was due to a lack of curricular offerings; there were simply not sufficient courses to satisfy graduation requirements for students in a timely manner.

“Students were taking longer to graduate and actually had to use courses from other clusters just to have an adequate number of courses,” Jhaj said. “It’s a problem around curricular cohesion, as well as having an adequate amount of courses for student to meet the requirements.”

According to the council’s final report, providing enough courses and cohering University Studies course themes address this concern. However, the remaining cluster courses still need to be reviewed to ensure they meet the goals outlined by the report.

According to Jhaj, despite the merge, students will be able to apply already earned credits to another cluster pathway.

“It looks to the number of credits. They should be able to count anything they have done in this cluster towards the completion of [another] cluster,” Jhaj said of the Media Studies cluster. “The intent is that it should have no negative impact on the students experience.”

Barich agreed, stating, “We think this is a really positive change for the students. All coursework still counts.”

Students who have already earned credits in the Media Studies sophomore inquiry or cluster courses may apply those credits toward the Popular Culture cluster, according to the University Studies website.

Media Studies cluster students who have not yet completed their sophomore inquiry requirements may also apply their credits toward the Freedom, Privacy & Technology SINQ.

“There is a pathway suggested [because] there is a good degree of overlap in some of the clusters they are mentioned in,” Jhaj said.

Additional clusters will be consolidated and reorganized in the coming years. Archaeology and Medieval Studies will similarly be removed in the next year and alternate curricular pathways will be suggested.

For more information regarding the application of Media Studies credits to another cluster, visit  ?