Faith and Scholarship Integration Essays
Steve Salyers, Associate Professor of Communications and the Humanities
In the academic world, media studies is an intentional look at the realm of media on multiple levels, while attempting to perceive and grasp simultaneous events and affects on culture. At The King’s College, our curriculum is broad-based and embodies both theoretical and practical courses. It is represented on the Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) course map as a media concentration; and, it is a component part of the Media, Culture and the Arts (MCA) curriculum. Outside of these two specific majors, students may take any media course as an elective.
Helping students navigate media (e.g., television, film, Internet, print, etc.) is of utmost importance. This generation, more than any other in human history, has been completely encapsulated in a media-driven culture, whether national, familial or interpersonal. From sitcoms and video games to texting and the World Wide Web, every aspect of contemporary life is influenced by electronic culture. This ever-present reality justifies its study.
Our approach to teaching practical and theoretical courses is to take a broad sweep of what media enables us to produce and perceive as individuals, independent and collective. Any given medium has the potential to magnify our creative endeavors, distribute ideas and, unfortunately, enslave us to the will of those who provide information and promote commerce. In short, any individual or entity that controls the flow or distribution of information—a gatekeeper--has inherent power to shape behavioral aspects of a given viewer or audience.
We embrace a biblical approach to teaching with the understanding that every tool, whether for the spread of the Gospel or for the dissemination of public policy, is one that can be fairly and candidly evaluated in the classroom. Beyond that mutual understanding, how would Christ have us identify and nurture our gifts in this area? How might he propagate morality, compassion, truth by means of news-gathering (journalism), storytelling (film and print) and personal expression (Internet)? And, what are the ethical dilemmas that arise in these undertakings? Questions are posed throughout given courses that instill responsible, thoughtful criticism. In all, our approach does not begin with the premise that media and media-based products are inherently evil, but rather valuable and powerful expressions that transcend the tangible confines of the human experience.
Ultimately, God is the deliverer of knowledge and wisdom. We should neither cower away from the technological resources that he has enabled us to develop, nor should we throw caution to the wind in their use on his behalf. The only difference between the media and any other tool that the Lord has bestowed on us is that media is arguably the most persuasive, far reaching and addictive.
Because our mission is to grow students into influential leaders in their given field, the impact of graduating students who are entering the world of media is of utmost importance. What’s more, graduating gatekeepers and change agents who are informed, articulate and rational, fill both a practical void and a cultural void. Policy makers, business leaders and religious teachers all embrace and are enveloped by media—its extension of our mission is fundamental.