New cinema studies major approved

At a time when automotive jobs are moving out of Michigan and film jobs are expected to be moving in, Oakland University has added a major in cinema studies and a minor in graphic design, which will start fall 2009.

A cinema studies major was approved by the board of trustees Wednesday, June 3, backed by the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Ron Sudol, and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Virinder Moudgil.

Previously, students could only take a concentration in film aesthetics and history.


“The interest in film at OU has always been quite high, and has continued to grow, with almost 3,000 students enrolled in film courses from 2000-2008,” said Kyle Edwards, an assistant professor who teaches film courses and co-authored the proposal. “The need for a cinema studies major became evident in 2007, after a questionnaire circulated in gen ed and upper-division film classes showed that about one quarter of those students surveyed would consider switching from their current major to cinema studies, and nearly half would consider adding cinema studies as a second major.”

New courses were developed for the major, and they are planning to hire two new faculty — one in the second year and another in the third.

“Cinema Studies courses instill the critical thinking, writing and communication skills that prepare students for a variety of positions within the film industry, as well as other professional occupations, including educator, public relations or advertising executive, print or web editor, museum curator or archivist,” Edwards said. “In addition, cinema studies majors will be well-prepared to pursue graduate coursework in cinema studies and related disciplines.”

Last year, Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed a film incentive program into law, which gives video production companies monetary compensation for filming in Michigan, intended to create revenue and jobs.

“It was a good time to get this moving,” said Andrea Eis, an assistant professor of art history who also co-authored the proposal.

Edwards said they also plan to hold “film-related special events, including film series and lecture series featuring nationally renowned scholars and filmmakers — that will enrich the cultural and social atmosphere for students, faculty and staff, and the surrounding community.”

Eis and Edwards said that OU is talking with production companies to discuss student internships and joint educational partnerships, and they expect that it will create opportunities for students.

Companies can also help by providing space for classes. Eis said that she and others are trying to get a digital film production major approved, but this would require physical space, which is currently not available at OU.

This major would include cinematography, editing and sound production.

Eis and others are also trying to get a graphic design major approved by the art department by September, by the College of Arts and Sciences a couple months later and by the board of trustees, in order to have it started by fall 2010.

Before CAS approved a graphic design minor in the winter semester, students interested most likely had a studio art major, and there was one introductory graphic design course.

Eis said the minor will be more in-depth and make students more marketable, teaching topography, advanced graphic and web design.

“I know some students, studio art grads, who are sticking around for a bit longer after graduation to add on this minor,” she said. “I know many would like to take the major but can’t wait around that long.”

Eis also said she is also trying to add concentrations in museum studies and art administration.