UM’s School of Communication revamps major in photography

The School of Communication joins schools around the nation with its re-launch of the photography program as a visual communication/photography undergraduate program this fall. The goal of the program is to bring different types of visual communications media together, including the web, video broadcasting, multimedia, photography and design in order to update the program to reflect the overlapping use of media technology today.
Lelen Bourgoignie-Robert, program coordinator, said the program fits the times and will teach students how to be story-tellers using more than one form of visual communication.
“We are offering [students] the opportunity to learn different visual media they will have to deal with as they move from the undergraduate level into the real world,” Bourgoignie-Robert said. “Things are changing so much in the media world that it almost makes it a necessity to [revamp the program].”
Basically, the new major will require students to take five core courses and choose seven classes from 15 to 16 courses that cover both ends of the media spectrum in addition to fulfilling other requirements.
The program will include five core faculty members including Lelen Bourgoignie-Robert, Lupe Langton, Kim Grinfeder and Michelle Seelig, along with other faculty from within the School of Communication.
The core faculty will rotate in teaching courses so that students have a variety of professors.
Professor Seelig, who teaches advertising and public relations, says that the program will be useful.
“It will help students be more aware of what it means to be a visual story-teller, to understand what it means to put a message together and take advantage of what’s out there,” Seelig said.
Lauren Reid, junior, formerly a photojournalism major, says she does not like the new curriculum as much because it is now more difficult for her to obtain her required courses.
“It’s kind of annoying because they don’t make the classes I need anymore,” Reid said.
Despite extra trips to her advisor, she believes the changes will help students in the long run.
John Fahrendorf, graduate student, thinks the idea serves the times.
“Technology these days is a vast encompassing beast – it only furthers students to take different courses,” Fahrendorf said. “Everything is becoming more interconnected into one solid form of consumption.”
Alexandra Zuiderweg, freshman, also says the changes add to the curriculum.
“I think it will help them diversify their talents. I don’t know if it’ll make much of a difference but they will learn more,” Zuiderweg said.

For a more detailed description of the visual communication/photography major, visit

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