A new Cultural Studies concentration in Digital and Cultural Innovation
Since its launch two decades ago, Lingnan University’s Master of Cultural Studies (MCS) programme has responded to the evolving theoretical trends in this field by offering innovative courses in film and television culture, feminism and cultural politics, urban commons, drama and performance. Unsurprisingly, the most significant recent developments in cultural studies arise from the impact of innovations in digital technology.
Established technologies such as mobile internet and social media have been put to creative use by all strata of society, while developments in de-centralising technologies offer the potential for a more inclusive and democratic social and cultural life for all. Particularly exciting is the digitally-powered revival of commons.
“In cultural studies, we see digital technologies as inherently embedded in social relations of all sorts, and assess their impact on culture by considering how the technical - the material forms - and the socio-cultural, entangle, interact, and mutually shape each other,” explains Dr Zhou Yang of Lingnan’s Department of Cultural Studies.
For example, the substantial number of co-ops which have switched to an online mode of operation have acquired new features in the process. These features not only give them certain advantages compared to more traditional forms of co-op but also, in specific contexts, present them with some new problems.
“In other words, cultural forms are, nowadays, increasingly digitally mediated,” says Dr Zhou. While old issues, such as inequality and injustice, persist, new ones emerge.
In response to these opportunities and challenges, from September 2023 the MCS programme will offer a new concentration in Digital and Cultural Innovation (DCI).
The structure of the DCI Concentration
The MCS DCI concentration seeks to identify effective ways to tackle real-world social and cultural issues through digital and cultural innovation. In the course of their studies, students will be exposed to paradigmatic and cutting-edge theories, as well as analytical tools and practices.
DCI students will take four core courses from the current MCS programme: Perspectives in Cultural studies; Pedagogy and Cultural Studies; Methods in Cultural research, and; Critical thinking through popular culture.
While, along with the existing range of electives, the DCI concentration has four new courses: Digital Creativity; Culture/Creative Commons: Digital Technologies, Policies and Practices; Cultural Policy and Community, and; Creating Urban Commons: Learning from International and Local Experiences.
These new courses have three main aims. First, to introduce students to the major issues and critical theories around culture and society, especially those related to cultural innovation, urban commons, and digital cultures, and to examine these issues and theories from material, historical, and socio-cultural perspectives. Second, to equip students with analytical tools they can use to understand the histories, technologies, practices, policies and trends, of cultural production, and of digital and cultural innovations, in terms of their values, strategies, and politics. Finally, to enhance their digital cultural literacy and skills, enable them to explore their creative capabilities through digital cultures, and introduce them to alternative and grounded practices of cultural democracy, equality and community. These they can use to help formulate various forms of cultural, creative and urban commons, as a tool for advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Why Lingnan is the perfect home for the DCI concentration
Lingnan was the first university in the Chinese-speaking world to offer Cultural Studies courses. Its renowned MCS programme, which was launched in 2003, continues to offer students from mixed academic and professional backgrounds an opportunity to reflect on, and devise alternative ways to approach, issues in this field.
As throughout the past two decades, faculty from the Department of Cultural Studies not only actively and consistently engage in the latest academic debates, they are also committed to hands-on practice, providing input to policy-makers, and to conducting social experiments, particularly when it comes to digital and cultural innovation.
“In addition, the programme has accumulated a vast, yet close-knit, network of alumni and friends who play influential and pioneering roles in cultural, digital, educational, and community and advocacy, work, especially in Hong Kong and mainland China,” Dr Zhou points out.
What’s more, students pursuing the DCI concentration will benefit from studying in Hong Kong, Asia’s global city. The SAR occupies a unique position between East and West, providing an open, international and inclusive environment in which exciting new thoughts, ideas, practices and experiments can collide to create a fertile ground for debate, research and practice in digital and cultural innovation.
Opportunities for graduates
The DCI concentration will expand the opportunities already open to graduates from the MCS programme. The in-depth knowledge they will have gained on issues around cultural and social innovation will open up the possibility of employment in areas such as the culture and creative industries, journalism and media, marketing, communications and public relations, education, the civil service, social and community work, project management, urban planning, advocacy, NGOs and other international organisations.
The programme will also prepare students who intend to go on to study for PhD and professional doctorate degrees in a diverse range of fields which include cultural studies, media and communication studies, sociology, history, science, technology and gender studies.
Social Practices and Connections
We encourage diversified learning experiences, through such arrangements as public seminars and local social practices. We provide full support to students’ participation in our"Creating Culture Co-Space and Student Learning Initiatives" at the heart of Kowloon, as a way to connect with like-minded students and teachers and explore practices of digital and cultural innovation to address the challenge of specific social issues. Students will also have the opportunity to visit other Asian countries to learn more about local digital and cultural practices (such as cooperatives and social enterprise organisations).
MCS students come from diverse academic and professional backgrounds. This broadens the students’ horizon and stimulates their critical and creative thinking in class and through peer learning, and lay a solid foundation for their future. The fields of MCS students and graduates include - but are not limited to - media, creative industry, performing arts, education, civil society, community work and professionals including doctor, nurse, lawyer, translator and engineer. The new MCS(DCI) concentration helps students expose to the most up-to-date developments and cutting-edge issues in these fields, and thrive professionally in an increasingly digitalised cultural world.
Please click HERE for the details of booklet in Chinese.