#NewAreaOfFocus

Eli Stillman, Editor in Chief

All that time you’ve spent playing on your phone might finally be able to help you get a degree.  Southern Oregon University has announced that next Fall it will welcome a focus under the Communications degree of Social Media and Public Engagement.

While parents might be skeptical about paying tuition for kids to take classes on Twitter, the degree could prove to be beneficial, as many courses involving social media are already integrated into the existing Comm. concentrations.FullSizeRender

Students in the program aren’t only going to learn how to tweet and text but also social media marketing, a skill that is becoming more sought out as spending on advertisement is rising.

Business Insider says that “US social-media ad spend will top $8.5 billion this year and reach nearly $14 billion in 2018, up from just $6.1 billion in 2013.”

In this day and age many business transactions take place online, and the amount of users linked into the cyber-world is growing daily. Becoming tech-savvy and working to understand the flow of traffic can help get a leg-up when applying for jobs.

Many of the classes needed to fulfill this curriculum are already offered at SOU.  Some of these include: Online Journalism, Social Media Strategies, and The Siskiyou.

While almost all of this focus will be taught through internet exploring and cyber connecting, it is not to be confused with its tech-y cousin department, Emerging Media and Digital Arts.  Some of the courses will be cross-listed, but this approach to evolving media will be more beneficial to students interested in journalism, public relations, and marketing.

“We don’t have any plans to bring in new faculty.  The new concentration doesn’t depend on faculty, it will depend on keeping what we have.”

Erik Palmer, the leader who spearheaded this new faction, explains how even during retrenchment at the university, the Communications department was able to get this curriculum to pass.  Getting classes to return for future quarters can be difficult, as the shortly staffed department has to keep courses open that they know will be filled.  Palmer believes that this new focus will help attract students to SOU who are interested in the growing field of work involving social media.

One student who is excited about the opportunities coming in the fall is Communications major Dari Bohn.  Already armed with a strong familiarity in social media, Bohn is interested in the numbers game of companies’ advertising and reach.  The junior says her ideal job would be to create spreadsheets of statistics, create editorial calendars, and drive the following for Disney.

“They have such a vast demographic and I want to be a part of reaching people with content on a global basis.”

Dari is currently enrolled in Palmer’s Social Media Strategy course where she and her classmates are working on their own blogs and media projects to get a feel for all the planning that goes into advertising and content promotion on a small scale.

The communications department at Southern Oregon believes that this branch of focus will attract more students like Bohn, who want to further their skills in hopes of gaining an edge when applying for jobs in the valley and even as large as Disney.

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