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The Diploma is the Message: Doug Rushkoff Invents a Master’s Program That Matters The Diploma is the Message: Doug Rushkoff Invents a Master’s Program That Matters

The Diploma is the Message: Doug Rushkoff Invents a Master’s Program That Matters

by Jed Oelbaum

June 1, 2014
Douglas Rushkoff, photo by Johannes Kroemer

As you sit back in your Aeron chair, drinking stale office coffee and letting your eyes swim out of focus in the artificial glow of your MacBook, take a moment to consider where you went wrong. You were going to be great! You were going to write a book, or go to law school and represent the poor and oppressed, or something. Face it – it’s probably time to quit your job and do something exciting. Why not go back to school? God knows your job isn’t making you any smarter. The rat race will be there when you get back. And while your stupid friends are slaving away towards their grad degrees in fetid hellholes like Cambridge and New Haven, you could be a pioneering student of the future in the veritable heaven on Earth that is Queens, NY.

City University of New York’s Queens College and digital media theorist Douglas Rushkoff are teaming up to create a Master’s program in Media Studies for the technologically minded, socially conscious upstarts who will define the way we see the world for years to come. “Instead of training people to become marketers or to write the next useless phone app, we’re going to support people who want to see through the media, and use it to wage attacks on the status quo,” Rushkoff says. “This is media studies for Occupiers.”

If you haven’t heard of Rushkoff you probably should have. He’s written for The New York Times, The Guardian, and Wired, and penned more than a dozen books on cyberculture, social trends, and the role technology and media play in our daily lives. He serves on the boards of serious startups like Codeacademy and Meetup, coined the terms “viral media,” and “social currency,” and is generally one of the most thoughtful and incisive Big Idea guys out there.

“I want to teach a diverse range of students without putting them into lifelong debt,” says Rushkoff, who as a graduate of Princeton, Cal Arts, and Utrecht University probably knows a little something about lifelong debt. The new Master’s of Arts in Media Studies will focus on themes of social responsibility and public policy, attempting to push the discipline towards new applications in areas like economic justice, urban planning, and environmental stewardship.

“I’m putting out the call for people to come study and make good trouble with me at CUNY-Queens,” Rushkoff says. The full program launches in Spring 2015, but Rushkoff, a Queens native himself, will return to the borough of Spider-Man, the Mets, and 50 Cent to start teaching classes this August.