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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Technocultural studies offers unique experience for undergrads

A performing arts, cultural studies, and history medley with a twist of technology, technocultural studies offers an innovative major that is unique to UC Davis.

Based off a word not found in the English dictionary, technocultural studies is an interdisciplinary major that bridges the arts, humanities, technology and the sciences in a way so that students have hands-on experience with digital production equipment.

“[TCS] looks at the role of technology and the arts, the role of culture and technology, and the sciences … with a sort of technological niche, said Jesse Drew, UC Davis professor and acting director of the program.

Began in the fall quarter of 2004, it was an initiative to start a program that would look at how technology and culture would intertwine. During that time, UC Davis refurbished the Art Annex building and renamed it as the TCS building, found west of Wright Hall and directly behind the Art Building.

Within the walls of the TCS building holds some of the most state-of-the-art digital production equipment on the UC Davis campus. The building has a few classrooms equipped with video editing and music production equipment and a high tech sound lab. A multi-use room can also be used by different departments and as a venue for small groups. The building houses a storeroom filled with digital production equipment that can, unfortunately for the rest of us, only be rented out by TCS majors.

Since its conception four years ago, UC Davis has graduated nearly 25 students with TCS degrees and between 40 and 50 students are currently declared.

Those who major in TCS choose from two emphases, creative production and critical studies, which makes the major unique beyond just its name. Creative production focuses more on the use of technology in such areas as web design while the critical studies emphasis is more abstract with a focus on the “culture part of technoculture, according to the departments website.

Despite which route a student takes, there is enough cross-over that students become well rounded and are able to choose their concentration of their studies.

“[The] strength of TCS is that its not limited to a particular set of skills -its deliberately not a vocational program, Drew said. “[Students] get a broader knowledge of technology and the arts to enable them to make their own decisions of what kind of work they want to do.

Many TCS students are interested in music, animation, film, social network, computers and robotics. Those who graduate with the major have gravitated to various types of media production, website production, animation and gaming, sound or music, or graduate programs, Drew said.

One potential problem of a major based on technology is the possibility of classes becoming obsolete as new technology is created. However, Drew designed the program to allow for flexibility as the world rapidly changes.

“All the equipment in all the rooms are on wheels because unlike other majors, TCS changes quickly with the times and it makes a need for flexibility in the classroom, Drew said.

Besides flexibility, the small size of the major allows students to have the opportunity to work one on one with faculty and get to know people on a more personal level.

“Its interesting how [TCS] can tie technology and society together, said sophomore TCS major Aaron Skilken. “Its such a small major that theres a group of familiar faces in each class.

UC Davis is the only university in California and possibly the U.S. to have such a major. Many other colleges have classes that deal with technocultural studies. For example, Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, offers an English class dealing with technoculture as it relates to literature, according to the Dalhousie Universitys website.

If you are interested in majoring in Technocultural Studies or would like more information, visit technoculture.ucdavis.edu.

 

NICK MARKWITH can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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