Life’s pretty transdisciplinary: my semester

Posted in academia,communications,Off Topic by thomas on the März 19th, 2010

One of my resolutions for this year was to keep a little journal about what I’m doing and what I’m thinking. So far, I have been pretty miserable with my self-chosen media diet. My „journal“ has been what I write on twitter and what I bookmark on delicious. Not exactly what I planned.

People who know me personally are aware of my somewhat nerdy obsession with academia, which means I love it and at the same time hate what is going on inside Austrian universities. That’s why I thought I could put together a little preview of what is waiting for me at the university this term – or what I expect. I’m in the last semester of my International Business bachelor and also do some courses of the Mass Media and Communication Science research master. So I am kind of all over the social sciences, business and arts curricula. Trying to sort things out and not halfway there. So, this is what I’m up to at university this semester:

Business, Economics and Social Sciences

Bachelor Thesis – I’m writing „thesis“ at the institute of Advertising and Brand Management about „The Evolving Role of Creativity in Brand Management“. Yes, I know this topic could evolve into a buzzword-clad piece of writing but I’m trying to avoid that. More on the paper in an upcoming post.

Spanish Business Communication III – Just what it sounds like: a lecture with around 20 people and topics such as „la empresa“. Includes a presentation, a midterm and a final exam. Not much conversation and discussion going on though, so chances are I have to talk with Spaniards at that bodega about inflation and unemployment rates and not about more interesting things. Lame, but my fault.

Spanish Business Communication IV – The title doesn’t really fit this one as it’s more a culture and history class as an actual business course. It’s in lecture format, I’ll have to do an oral exam of about 20 minutes and read an academic Spanish book. I think I’ll chose „La familia en Espana“, a sociological perspective on just that. This is going to be hard, really hard.

Spanish Conversation – A training course dedicated to getting people at a level that doesn’t make the prof who does the oral exam cringes once you open your mouth. So we are talking about „La era de la información“ and things like that. So far it is the most exciting course of the term. And I really don’t know if that’s a good thing.

Applied Microeconomics – Another group lecture. I first thought we’re going to review neoclassical economic theory, do a lot of formalizing just to hear in the end that the models we built are totally not valid in reality and need to be more refined to make sense. However, it seems we’re going to discuss „real“ cases and analyze them from a microeconomic perspective. Game theory and things like that.

Companies from the perspective of social sciences – Can’t go to the lecture but I guess there’s a lot of stakeholder and system theory in that one. Have to read the book and write the exam.

Mass Media and Communication Science

Special Lecture I  – Television and Digital Media: The State of the Art of Media and Audience Research – I was expecting a lot from this lecture, especially as 1) it’s in English 2) the Prof. has been at different Universities including Berkley and 3) runs a movie consulting business. So far I am disappointed beyond belief. The lecture is split in two parts. The first 45 minutes, we are lectured about what can only with a lot of goodwill be described as „the state of the art of media and audience research“ and the other 45 minutes students have some 3 minutes to present „something relevant“ from either TV or the internet. There is no discussion afterwards and the grading depends on the 3 minutes talk and a 1 A4 description of some case. So far it is very, very uninspiring.

Special Lecture II – History and Theory of Propaganda – I was looking very much forward to this lecture, as the prof giving it has written a book I really liked a lot and is a historian, not a communication scientist. So far it’s a quite impressive display of cultural analysis and dissection. It’s the kind of lecture that makes you start thinking about topics differently. It inspired me for around 5 blog posts in the first 2 hours, so I guess I Just have to find the spirit to get them done.

Research Seminar I – Digital Natives and the Future of Information Usage – Same prof as Television and Digital Media: The State of the Art of Media and Audience Research, same high expectations, so far, same results. However, the topic itself is pretty interesting and there are a bunch of interested and interesting colleagues of mine in the class. I guess we’re going to do empirical research, analyzing the myth of the one digital native and his or her usage of information. I’d love to put the good old news factor theory to the test in the interwebs, but I guess that’s as always „beyond the scope of the class“.

Research Seminar II – Organizational Communication – Held by Peter Szyska, a quite renowned prof on the topic of PR and organizational comms. My group of three has to analyze the vast mass of trade and academic literature on internal communications to establish some sort of systematic body of work. Kind of „towards a great theory of internal communications“ without the great. Could be fun. Could be not. We’ll see.

Management Lecture: New Media Management – Had to chose this one and I am not totally happy about it. The lecturer is managing the online part of Austria’s public broadcasting system and is damn proud of it. We’ll see how much reflexion and thorough analysis it’s going to be – or how much self-righteous posing.

That’s it for now. And it’s going to be a heck of a lot.