Chanelle Manton, who studied Media and Environmental Communications BA(Hons), explains how this unique course blends these two important subjects and has led to her PhD study.
“But what does media have to do with geography?”
“Alas, this is not the first time I’ve heard this question – nor will it be the last, I’m sure – yet I still fight the urge to roll my eyes and hibernate under a blanket whenever I am asked it. The short answer is, in fact, everything; media, that is, mediated information which we consume and reproduce every day, is intertwined with landscapes. These landscapes, however, do not just refer to the physical ones around us – mountains, rivers, waterfalls, the stuff of GCSE Geography – but how we relate to the world around us socially, politically, economically, emotionally. Still, explaining this to your parents will almost definitely elicit the response ‘I see…’ (they probably don’t) or the much-loved ‘but what job will this qualify you for?’ To this day, as a MEC graduate, my grandmother is still unsure what to tell her friends when they ask what my degree is actually in, normally defaulting to “Photography?”.
“BA (Hons) Media and Environmental Communication is the only course of its kind in the United Kingdom, offering a unique blend of modules across both disciplines. Students have the opportunity to mingle with a range of peers and tutors across both schools, which can be incredibly helpful in meeting like-minded, or totally opposite, opinions and philosophies – both of which enrich the learning experience. If you’re attracted to this course, you’re probably attuned to social and environmental issues and want to make some sort of positive change. In a world of Greta Thunbergs, this sort of course is critical in inviting students to evaluate how the world around us is mediated and the implications of this across those aforementioned landscapes, particularly in the current climate of uncertainty (pun intended).
“You don’t need to have your sights set on solving Climate Change, though; I started the course hoping to become a photographer for National Geographic, and now I’m about to begin a Ph.D. exploring the experiences of care workers (you can view my work here) – only adding to my poor grandmother’s confusion. The course itself allows students to tailor their degree through the three-year programme, which is where you’re most likely to find your true interests – whether that’s Photography, Geographies of Racism and Security, Journalism, Sustainable Development, or, in my case, a combination of all of the above; it’s as flexible as you make it, and you’ll graduate with a repertoire unique to you. The optional placement year which MEC students can take only provides further opportunity to strengthen your portfolio and situate your knowledge outside University walls.
“The School of Media, in which Media and Environmental Communication is hosted, boasts a fantastic range of resources, such as iMacs furnished with Adobe Creative Suite, professional studios for Photography, Television, and Radio, kit rental, and more. Access to these facilitates encourage accessibility (I couldn’t afford a camera of my own, so being able to borrow equipment has been instrumental to my success) and foster exploration, creative thinking and originality in assignments and beyond. Students can also opt to do a Creative Media Project for their final-year dissertation, which allows you to utilise the skills you may have developed in practical modules to incorporate Photography or Video Production to create a unique – and, in my experience, exciting – piece of work. These works may also be exhibited in the final-year Graduate Show, which is an invaluable opportunity to showcase yourself and make connections with important people in the ‘real-world’.”
The course itself is supported by a fantastic Leader, Dr. Patricia Prieto-Blanco, who’s passion for the programme is unquestionable. As well as providing excellent support within the University, she often organises out-of-class activities and collaborations, such as the Beach Clean. Events such as these provide opportunity for students to contextualise their knowledge and remain situated in the world around them, as well as creating social networking opportunities. Dr Prieto-Blanco and the entirety of the School of Media staff, which includes Professor Julie Doyle, the architect of the course ten years ago and author of Mediating Climate Change (2011), are an absolute asset to the University and to the learning experience.
By Chanelle Manton