Civic Media, Art and Practice — Masters Program Building a Cohort of Civic Doers and Makers at Emerson College, Apply by May 15

The Engagement Lab @ Emerson College is building out its Fall 2016 cohort of students in the newly launched Civic Media: Art & Practice (CMAP) master of arts program. The 12-month course will give students the opportunity to experiment with an array of modalities — from digital games to interactive art and participatory design to organizational capacity building — to launch their own thesis project in collaboration with real world partners, locally and internationally. There are a handful of spots remaining and the faculty are looking to complement those already accepted during the first wave of applications. Could one of the remaining seats belong to you? Apply by May 15 to find out.

The CMAP program grows out of the work the Engagement Lab has been doing since 2011. It seeks to train and cultivate the next generation of experts in civic engagement in the digital age. More and more, there is a call for those whose expertise straddles the divide between new media, public engagement, marketing, and digital creativity as community engagement officers at non-profit organizations and as innovation officers in city government. CMAP graduates will be prepared through course work with faculty from across Emerson College, renowned for its interdisciplinary programs in media arts and communication, and through their own engaged research with both local and global partners. In the past, the Engagement Lab has collaborated on engaged research partnerships internationally with organizations such as the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the United Nations Development Program, and UNICEF. In the United States they have worked with the cities of Boston, Detroit and Philadelphia; and with planning agencies such as the Metropolitan Area Planning Council in Boston.

Our partners at the Engagement Lab at Emerson College

So, what does Civic Media encompass? It’s a wide-ranging category that is currently being defined both by academics and practitioners. Simply put, civic media are the the mediated practices of designing, building, implementing or using digital tools to intervene in or participate in civic life.Associate Professor and CMAP Program Director, Paul Mihailidis emphasizes the urgency of defining and understanding these practices in the context of civic life. Civic media practices “range from government ‘engaging citizens’ to activist groups coordinating across the globe for collective action,” he says. “The common thread is the design of tools or artistic interventions that create, coordinate, or facilitate actions taken in the world to benefit a group or community beyond one’s intimate sphere.” Assistant Professor Catherine D’Ignazio whose own work straddles the border between art and data literacy and engagement emphasizes, “the role that arts and culture play in civic actions is on the rise as civic action.” CMAP will give students the chance to immerse themselves in their own interdisciplinary projects, while giving them a solid foundation in the theory and scholarship that underlies the emerging field of civic media.

Some of our projects, ranging from online and digital games, to web apps, to consultations and implementations with cities and organizations to study and improve their civic engagement processes.

Additionally, graduate students interested in the education field or global development work will have the opportunity to serve as teaching assistants at the Salzburg Academy of Media and Global Change in Austria. During three intensive weeks, undergraduates from all over the world prototype civic media projects in a program that emphasizes how culture, media, and technology can impact social movements and civic life and governance. The experience provides CMAP graduate students the unique opportunity to teach others what they have learned, a skill core to pedagogical mission of the CMAP program.

Anyone interested in learning more about the CMAP program or applying should reach out to Christina Wilson at the Engagement Lab (christina at elab dot emerson dot edu). Prospective students can also request more information about graduate studies at Emerson College and find out how to apply online at:

Please submit an application online by May 15th.