"The foolhardy, presumptuous, and exhilarating effort we are making at NYU to elaborate a new perspective for studying communication."
— Neil Postman, keynote address to the Speech Communication Association, 1973
The Department of Media, Culture, and Communication is recognizing 50 years since Neil Postman founded the NYU graduate program in Media Ecology — what he referred to as “an exhilarating effort” to advance the field of communication in new directions. Some of this early history is being shared on the department's anniversary website.
What was this new perspective that Neil proposed? Neil, along with his NYU colleagues, envisioned a new field of inquiry based on the paradigm that all communication is an environment. An emphasis on context would open up fruitful new avenues of research. Media ecologists would ask questions such as: how do media, technology, and information systems work in relation to one another and how do these interacting systems structure meaning, perception, and values?
The NYU media program was founded from a desire to reimagine the study of communication with new analytical frameworks for understanding media’s role in social change. We continue this commitment to exploring the outer edges of media studies.
The Department of Media, Culture, and Communication traces its scholarly roots to Neil’s early vision of a vibrant, highly interdisciplinary field of media inquiry. 50 years later, its faculty is made up of media scholars, historians, philosophers, anthropologists and sociologists who study the interconnections between media and global cultures. They work with an expansive definition of media that goes beyond traditional print, cinema, television, or internet. Media encompasses everything from video games to cryptocurrency, assistive technologies, wearable fitness, global political economies, architecture and the design of public space.
Over the past five years, graduates of the Media, Culture, and Communication doctoral program have published well received books on topics spanning the field of media studies.
New York University claims the 7th spot in the QS Top Universities ranking of media studies programs worldwide.
The Media, Culture, and Communication professor is one of 25 exceptional individuals recognized by the MacArthur Foundation for creating objects of beauty and awe, advancing our understanding of society, and fomenting change to improve the human condition.