Thinking Media

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Academic Team:
Steven Brence (
First-Year Experience Seminar Instructor
Cass Morrison (
FIG Assistant

9 credits

UGST 109 First Year Experience Seminar – 1 Credit 

CRN: 16286: W: 2:00 – 2:50 PM, PLC 072 

JCOM 201 Media and Society – 4 credits 

CRN: 16747: TR: 2:00 – 3:50 PM, LIL 282 

PHIL 130 Philosophy and Popular Culture – 4 credits 

CRN: 14371: TR: 12:00 – 1:20 PM, GSH 124, +DIS CRN: 14378: F: 12:00 – 12:50 PM, PAC 16 

About the FIG:

This FIG explores the critical engagement with life and society through the lenses of popular culture and mass media. 

This course aims to help you get the most out of your first term at the University of Oregon and set you up for a successful undergraduate career, all while building a strong community of other students and faculty.  

JCOM 201 Media and Society - CoreEd or major satisfying course

Nearly every facet of human life today—work, play, study, relationships, and more—involves media. This course examines how this came to be, why it matters that media are so thoroughly infused in our lives individually and collectively, and how we can become more thoughtful and engaged media consumers and creators. Making sense of media means grappling with the social, cultural, economic, interpersonal, and political implications of this current moment: one in which people have increasingly expansive and near-instantaneous access to an abundance of information—social media, entertainment, games, news, and more—in a way that is unprecedented in the history of communication technologies. Media consumption has been transformed, but so has media production: People can create and disseminate their own content, receive and share files, and closely monitor the activities of friends and others. At the same time, networked communication platforms have forged new relationships between institutions and individuals and between social movements, states, and corporations. Over the course of the term, we will explore some key transformations in media over the past century, paying close attention to the interplay of meaning and power and the way media contributes to both shaping our identities and facilitating self-expression. We will also explore the rise and development of media professions, and examine some of the central tensions in the media world today: How can we tell whom or what to trust via media? What does verification look like in a world of fakes and misinformation? And how can we avoid being fooled by the use of numbers, data, and visualizations? In all, this course will equip students with a foundation in media literacy for the 21st century.

PHIL 130 Philosophy and Popular Culture - CoreEd or major satisfying course

The undertaking of philosophy, in its broadest and most inclusive sense, is the pursuit of a disciplined and self-reflexive examination of life--a self-conscious grappling with general and particular questions of worth, meaning, and knowledge, that have, at least since the time of Socrates, underwritten and reflected our understanding of ourselves as self-creating and self-determining beings. The recent widespread recognition that nearly all of our lives are now conditioned and informed by popular or mass culture has prompted an increasing engagement with it both as a phenomenon in general, and with the wide range of its products, by philosophers of all major schools, traditions, and disciplinary divisions.The aim of this course is to enable students to engage in critical reflection central to the discipline of philosophy--that which would facilitate living an "examined life"--about, in, and through popular culture. Students will be empowered with critical capacity in relation to that with which they interact on a daily basis---films, television, graphic novels, pop music, online media, sports and games, and so on---and in respect to the most profound and general questions that confront us all. Therefore Philosophy and Popular Culture satisfies the criteria for the Arts and Letters group requirement.

Meet your FIG Assistant and Instructor!