The Johns Hopkins Gazette: August 6, 2001
August 6, 2001
VOL. 30, NO. 41


KSAS Offers New Part-Time Master's Program for Information Industry

Outside experts, faculty will teach Communication in Contemporary Society

By Glenn Small

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

Inspired in part by President William R. Brody's concept of "The Quantum Physics Model of the University," professors Robert H. Kargon, the Willis K. Shepard Professor of the History of Science, and Benjamin Ginsberg, the David H. Bernstein Professor of Political Science, have organized a new master of arts degree program called Communication in Contemporary Society. It opens this fall at the Washington Center.

Robert Kargon

In the future, Brody has said, students and faculty will not be as tightly bound to the physical campus as in the past and universities will have to work to bring world-class expertise together to solve problems and advance knowledge.

In setting up the new master of arts program, which will be offered through the part-time programs of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Kargon said they will bring together the best experts on the information and digital age, along with established Hopkins faculty, to give students a broad understanding of how we got to this point and where we're headed.

The program is designed for working professionals in the information industry, said Kargon, including journalists, public relations professionals, congressional staffers, Web designers, librarians and museum curators, among others.

"We thought that a program that has as its mission the desire to come to grips with the new digital technologies would be very exciting," said Kargon, who said the Hopkins program is not designed to teach specific technical skills but to empower students with an understanding of the underlying principles of what's happening. "We hope to equip our students--no matter what information profession they're in--to be able to capitalize on the new directions that are coming in all of the information professions."

Peter Decherney, the associate program chair, said the first two classes being offered are Introduction to the Digital Age and Media Theory, in the new Washington Center building at 1717 Massachusetts Ave., near Dupont Circle and directly across the street from the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

"I think it was recognized wisely that this is something that's really missing at Hopkins," said Decherney, who has a doctorate in film from New York University.

Unlike traditional programs that are organized around existing faculty and resources, this program will freely borrow faculty and experts from other institutions as needed, said both Kargon and Decherney.

For example, said Decherney, "One journalism course will be taught by a writer for and it will address the ways journalism has been transformed by 24-hour news channels and the Internet."

The program has two foundation courses, three core courses and elective courses in three areas. One area focuses on moving pictures, art and culture; another focuses on news and public information; and the third focuses on digital media. "The program is devoted to the history, theory, economics and policy of media and communications in the Digital Age," reads a program brochure.

Kargon, who for some time has taught a course called Culture, Communication and Technology as part of the Master of Liberal Arts program, said he expects similar students to be interested in the new master of arts program.

In that course, Kargon takes students from the invention of writing through the Internet, and they have been "very keen on knowing where the information industry is going."

Decherney said the classes will be supplemented several times a semester by special guest lectures, bringing in people who are on the cutting edge, both scholars and working professionals.

To hear President Brody speak about "The Quantum Physics Model of the University," go to