Creating a Transdisciplinary Learning Environment


The Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film will develop the curriculum for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Emerging Media.Therefore, the exact curriculum will be fully developed after a new director is hired. The new curriculum will begin in 2018. This will be just in time for the first student cohort admitted into the new program, but one year ahead of the completion of the new facility. Since most of the new courses will only be at the beginning level at that point and the student numbers will still be small, classes can be held in the existing facilities for one year.

The curriculum will have four basic elements:

  • Foundational Curriculum
  • Transdisciplinary Specialization
  • Certificates in Virtual Production
  • Innovation Studio

The New Foundational Curriculum

All students pursuing the BFA in Film and Emerging Media will be required to take classes in the Foundational Curriculum as a basis of study in two or more Virtual Production Certificate programs. The curriculum will consist of courses in film studies and history, filmmaking, screenwriting, editing, cinematography and lighting, audio, production design and acting.

In order to better prepare students to enter advanced studies in virtual production, additional courses will include introductory virtual production, design thinking, creative coding, animation and compositing, entrepreneurship, art and design. Art and design courses will be taught in the Department of Art and Art History.

In addition, all students will be required to attend a weekly convocation to hear guest artists and lecturers and to receive academic and career advisement.

Along with courses incorporated in the virtual certificate programs, three new foundational courses will be offered in the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts.

the New Foundational Curriculum will be:

  • Design Thinking: First Developed at Stanford University’s Design Lab, Design Thinking will teach students to work in teams to design from multiple perspectives of design, engineering, social implications and viable business models.
  • Creative Coding: This introductory foundational course will focus on computer programming for the media arts.
  • Entrepreneurship: Two courses will be developed in the area of entrepreneurship: Business and Law for Film and Emerging Media and Creating and Distributing Independent Film and Emerging Media. Students will learn about business plans, start-ups, career potential, film distribution, copyright and the intellectual property rights of creative work and research.

Transdisciplinary Specialization

Building a deep and coherent understanding of a subject outside of film and emerging media is key to expanding the range of the students’ abilities to collaborate and work across disciplines. It contributes to a fresh social vision. To meet the requirements of the Transdisciplinary Specialization, students will need to take three courses in sequence outside the Johnny Carson School for Theatre and Film in one subject area beginning no later than their third year. Gaining transdisciplinary expertise will increase the vocational choices of Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film graduates and better connect them to the issues of our time.

For instance, a student taking a Transdisciplinary Specialization in biochemistry will take Fundamentals of Biology followed by General Chemistry and General Genetics to build familiarity in that field, which could then lead toward a vocation as a media specialist in the pharmaceutical field. Similarly, a student seeking to broaden her skills in order to work in one of Nebraska’s many agricultural industries can take three sequential courses in Grass Ecology, Land Management and Water Science in UNL’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

Developing a transdisciplinary expertise will be a unique feature of getting a degree in film and emerging media from the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film.

Innovation Studio

The culminating learning experience for the film and emerging media student will be the Innovation Studio, a capstone class taken throughout the entire senior year. Students will work end-to-end on final projects in teams under the mentorship of faculty, guest faculty and artists, and sometimes industry professionals. These projects will be larger in size and scope than students’ in-class projects, thus preparing them for the professional world.

Students will work in teams of four to six on approximately six to eight projects per year that will be supported by the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts. A yearly cohort of approximately 40 students will make this arrangement manageable. Students and their mentor(s) will submit proposals for Innovation Studio projects in their third year. The leader of the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts will select projects based on the feasibility and quality of the proposal.

Through a yearly advisement process, such as individual advisement settings and the weekly convocation, students will be urged to self-organize in groups of cohorts around similar issues and interests informed by their choice of transdisciplinary specializations. This will allow for the careful coordination of Innovation Studio projects among groups of students and manage the number of projects needing supervision. Students will be encouraged to parlay their final projects into presentations at national or international conferences—particularly the Triennial (or Biennial) Carson Conference on Emerging Media Arts—and to build potential long-term partnerships after graduation.