The unaddressed needs of a nascent major

The Digital Media Arts department lacks variety across a spectrum of student wants and needs.

Chloe McElmury, Senior Columnist

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I am happy to say I am a Digital Media Arts (DMA) major, even though this decision didn’t come until the end of my first year. This choice provides me with so much that I love: photography, design and an endless list of possible career choices. However, there is a lack in the amount of knowledge that can be attained at Hamline for those pursuing a DMA major or minor.

A large concern of students for the DMA program is the way the classes are set up. First of all there is an atrocious absence of Hamline Plan letters. As students, we are all well aware of the many requirements given to us for our liberal arts education. Usually, a major is a great way to fulfill some of these. While DMA students will get a shot at this through a new graphic design history course being offered in the fall, there are no other courses with letters attached.

In graphic and web design classes, much of the time during and after projects is dependent on critiques. We speak more in those classes than in some communication classes! However, there is no “O” attached to these courses. Having a class like Advanced Graphic Design designed to be speaking intensive could also incentivize students to participate more during critique days, providing helpful feedback on the design process.

Another concern is the space we physically have available for students. The class sizes are small, something Hamline prides itself on. While we all love this, those who meticulously tailor their schedule but fail to get into those carefully-planned classes do not. Those looking to pick up a DMA minor have to compete with majors for spots. Different from courses where adding a few extra students would be no problem at all, we have a limited number of desktop computers available. Hamline graciously provides us with products from the Adobe Suite, which are available free on these computers. Minors in the program have to simply wait or get lucky to secure spots in courses.

I’m one of three sophomore students who are going through the courses in this major rapidly, finishing our chosen paths faster than expected. Upon completion of this semester, I will have taken all the classes offered in web design and graphic design. Web design offers an introduction and advanced course. Most classes in this major have an introductory and advanced course, but that’s all. With so many different topics in this field, it can be discouraging to see how little Hamline offers compared to the wide variety of opportunities and skills that could be acquired as a DMA major.

In order for my fellow majors and I to keep improving in this field we will have to continue learning elsewhere. Whether that’s through an internship, ACTC program, independent study or collaborative research, the fact remains that this is a growing and new program with limited courses for students.

According to an article published on Hamline’s website, this program only started to be offered in the fall semester of 2012. It’s not even five years old yet! While it’s exciting that a new program has been able to receive computer labs with Mac computers, photo printers and even 3D printers, there should be more extensive plans in place for students looking for more.

In a field as fast-paced as DMA, there should be more courses in speciality topics like typography or mobile app design. You can certainly take an independent study to cover this or even learn it on your own from, but that’s not why I came to Hamline or chose this major. The professors and classes really make their mark here. In my Advanced Graphic Design class this semester, nearly the entire class took the intro course the semester before. We’ve been able to grow and learn together, something you might not get at other colleges, and certainly not by learning it on your own in an independent study.

I wholeheartedly love my major and my professors, but there’s a lot of work to be done in this new major. Input from students is crucial in learning what courses are most desired by them. While changes might not be able to be implemented before I graduate, I hope that new students will be able to benefit from what will hopefully become a major rich in course options for all of the different mediums we can choose from here at Hamline and in our future career fields.

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