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A Word from the Director…

Only in Edmonton would we get 30cm of snow on the first day of Spring.  Well, it should be gone by the time May 6 comes around and we commence our 14th Spring Institute.  We have another great cohort coming into the program this year with students from across the country and some who will be making a much longer trek from Russia and China to be with us. 

Our incoming cohort will be the first to take the COMM 502 Human Communication Course with our newest faculty member Tommy Barker.  Tommy comes to us from Texas Tech University, where he has been involved in technical writing and risk communication work for many years.  I know he’s excited to be teaching for us and will make the course a rich learning experience for our students.  I also know that Tommy is an avid blues rock musician, so if we are lucky maybe we can convince him to get up at one of the local jam sessions during the Spring Institute.

Our returning 2012 cohort will also be getting themselves prepared to begin the exhilarating journey into the world of posters and final projects as they embark on the COMM 501 methods course. We will of course also be welcoming back Ann Curry to teach that course for us.  We will also be welcoming Kate Milberry, a recent graduate from Simon Fraser University, who will be teaching the COMM 506 course for us again this year.

I’m excited to have as this year’s distinguished speaker, Professor Robin Mansell from the Dept. of Media and Communication at the London School of Economics.  Professor Mansell is a top scholar in the field of communication and technology, and widely respected for her extensive work in the area of political economy of communication.  Her new book Imagining the Internet tackles one of the most pressing questions in our field; namely the question of how we envision the future of the information society and what that will mean for commerce, for social justice, and ultimately for human freedom.  I’m looking forward to hearing what she has to say on May 24 at the MACT Research Symposium.

As always, Spring Institute is a lot of work for everyone, students, faculty and support staff alike.  But I think for most of us, it is also an enjoyable time of connecting and re-connecting, and feeling part of a learning community that will have a lasting impact well beyond the MACT program.  In fact, one of the things that I enjoy most about being involved in MACT is that I get to spend time with such an interesting group of learners—learners who, bring rich and varied experiences into the classroom.  I love the stimulating discussion and debate that you bring to the program and I often feel like I learn as much as you do!

Hang in there folks, winter is nearly done and you’ll soon be shedding the boots and coats for runners and a light jacket.  Spring, that magical time of renewal and promise, will make its gradual appearance as you continue on your intellectual journey.  How metaphorical.  You’ll just have to be prepared to run that gauntlet of mosquitoes on your way to class…

Gordon Gow, PhD
Associate Professor and Director

MACT’s First Thesis Student

On 15 January 2013, Angela Keller (Cohort 2010) successfully defended her thesis before a committee of four faculty members.  The title of the thesis is Mobile Phones and Health Communication for Young Adults: An Exploratory Case Study about incorporating Text messaging in Pregnancy Care Support in Edmonton. 

Prior to the defense, Angela gave a public presentation about her research that was attended by family, friends, staff and students.  As the first student admitted to the thesis stream of the MA in Communications and Technology, Angela has set the bar high for all other students who follow in her footsteps. Congratulations Angela!

The McLuhan House in Edmonton

The boyhood home of Marshall McLuhan is now protected for posterity by the City of Edmonton through a partnership with Arts Habitat, a City of Edmonton cultural organization. Annotated historical photos displayed in the home of a young Marshall McLuhan and his family - curated by professional photographer Michael McLuhan, the youngest of Marshall's children - provide an opportunity to interpret, understand, and eventually enlarge McLuhan's intellectual legacy.

Plans for the home include public access to the main floor (e.g. Book launches, receptions, readings, workshops), and offices and creative space for artists on the second floor. Michael will visit Edmonton in the spring to celebrate the acquisition of the home. The home was acquired by the City of Edmonton in October 2012.

An article by Marco Adria and Gordon Gow, originally published in CURB magazine, is on permanent display at the McLuhan House.  Read it here.

Learn about the McLuhan House and Arts Habitat Edmonton

Mark Your Calendar for 24 May!

Join us for the 14th Annual Communications and Technology Research Symposium on Friday 24 May at Enterprise Square (10230 Jasper Avenue).  Our guest lecturer this year is Dr. Robin Mansell from the London School of Economics. Dr. Mansell is the author of Imagining the Internet: Communication, Innovation and Governance and will speak on “Internet Social Imaginaries: Crowdsourcing, Collective Action and Governance”  More information about Dr. Mansell’s book is available here.

• 1:00 – 2:30pm    Poster Session (MACT Cohort 2012) Enterprise Square Atrium
• 3:00 – 4:30 pm   Distinguised Speaker, Dr. Robin Mansell, 2-957 Enterprise Square

News from our Students & Grads

Darrell Seib (Cohort 2010)  accepted a position with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission as their communications officer, which he began on October 1.  Darrell is ready for the challenges of this new and exciting role and also ready to put theory, learned in the MACT program, into practice. Congratulations Darrell.

Papers by Almond Aguila (MACT Interdisciplinary PhD student), Daylin Breen (Cohort 2009) “Unlocking Perspective with Quick Response Codes” and Andre Lucena (Cohort 2007) “The Print Newspaper in the Information Age” have been published in the Proceedings of the Media Ecology Association (Vol 12) 

In January, Daylin Breen (Cohort 2009) received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee for service to the community.

In November 2012, Julia Marshall (Cohort 2010) celebrated her completion of the MACT program with a seven-week trip to Rishikesh, India, to study yoga with world-renowned teacher Yogi Vishvketu. During her time amidst the foothills of the Himalayas and along the banks of the Ganges River, Julia completed the training required to receive her 500-hour level yoga teacher certification. She continues to teach yoga part time in Calgary, in addition to her work as a freelance writer and communications specialist.

Can LinkedIn be used to engage with alumni? This is a question that Andrea Lauder (Cohort 2011) is exploring. Learn  more in this feature story on the UAlberta School of Public Health website

If you are a curling fan, or even just watch Canadian TV, you will have very likely seen this “Start Curling Today!” ad. What you may not have realized is that it stars MACT grad, Brian Chick, (Cohort 2007)  who also wrote this spot. Brian is coaching the Swiss  team competing this March at the Women’s World Championship in Lativa.

Sam Oboh (Cohort 2008) was named by Afri-Culture’s list of the fifteen most influential Africans in Canada for 2013.

At the Faculty of Extension Awards Gala on 14 March, Michelle Zolner (Cohort 2011) of Extension’s Government Studies programming area was recognized for Outstanding Contributions to the Learning Environment by a staff member.  Lisa Prins (Cohort 2009) was acknowledged with the award for Excellence in Graduate Studies. Lisa’s research was focused on the development of a low-cost, efficient, and anonymous communications networks for prostituted individuals to reduce potential for harm by sharing information via text messaging.

New Members of the MACT Advisory Board

The MACT Advisory Board plays an important role in connecting the program to the professional community in Edmonton and beyond.  While the Board is not a decision making, its members serve as ambassadors for the program and provide guidance to the Director on a number of matters including: training and education needs related to communications and technology in the workplace, emerging trends and developments, marketing of the MACT program, and linkages and connections to relevant professional associations.  Board members serve for two years (renewable). 

This year MACT is excited to have several new Advisory Board members join us:

  • Daylin Breen, MACT alumnus; Marketing Promotions Development, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Michael Hotrum, learning technology consultant
  • Fraser Logan, student liaison representative, International Association of Business Communicators
  • David Mitchell, Professor, Dept. of Communication and Culture, University of Calgary
  • Chris Moore, Chief Information Office, City of Edmonton
  • Jay Palter, Principal and Chief Engagement Office, Jay Palter Social Advisory
  • Mark Wolfe, Adjunct Assistant Professor, MACT Program
  • Branko Zurkovic, President, Upside Wireless

If you have news that you’d like to share, please email Eileen Crookes.  Keep up with all the news by following us on Twitter and Facebook