By Samantha Middleton

When I first decided to pursue a Master’s in Emerging Media Studies at Boston University, I was immediately asked “Well, what is that, exactly?” And for the first few months, I recycled the same three answers:

“It’s basically a crazy media research degree.”

“We work on web design, conduct original research, and work with a lot of data.”

“I’ll let you know when I figure it out!”

As the program inches towards the finish line, and we dive into the planning and organization of our culminating academic conference, #Screentime, I am ions more confident in answering this question. I have finally discovered what Emerging Media Studies is, or what it has become for me as a person and as a professional.

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It is a topic for research, and it is cutting edge. In EMS, our discussions are grounded in foundational communication theory, but involve applying that theory to modern technologies. Whether it be VR devices, persuasive profiling, interactive multimedia experiences, or social media, many of the research questions we ask are unique and original. Our job is to become the experts where experts are yet to exist.

So our original research? It is original because we conquer topics legitimately never before investigated. Our surveys, our focus groups, and our data analysis discover the impact of new technologies and how they are changing us as media consumers and as people.

What I find especially significant about the Emerging Media Studies program is the balance it offers between academia and industry. Our program is diverse in the sense that every student has varied passions within the world of media and communication. Many students will work toward a PhD in the field, whereas others will look to take these research and analysis skills into fields such as education, advertising, public relations and marketing. As someone who is a vacuum for media content and an absolute nerd, this program has given me a well-rounded and advanced education while also preparing me to be competitive in the digital job market.


In planning #Screentime, our program has the chance to demonstrate the importance of Emerging Media Studies in a variety of research fields and industries. We look forward to seeing the research of our colleagues, of BU Emerging Media Studies alum, of our professors, of the Boston area, and of our budding new field come to life in an interactive and dynamic experience.

Now when my parents, friends and coworkers ask me to define Emerging Media Studies, I have to make sure I do not talk their ears off. We tackle everything, and we do so with conviction, direction, and confidence that the research we are conducting truly matters. This is what we hope to capture with #Screentime, and we look forward to showing you how this conference develops every step of the way.

samantha About Samantha

@Sami_Middleton |

I’m a Chicago native and a Boston transplant who came to the east coast to get my Bachelor’s in Communication from Boston College. My background is in journalism and my concentration here at EMS has been examining new forms of conversation emerging from technologies and platforms like Twitter and Snapchat (and how I don’t think it means we are losing our ability to talk to people!) This year, I have really enjoyed learning from Dr. Cummings in his New Communication Technologies class, where I also was able to present a project on something very near to my heart: the lack of access to mental health care on college campuses, and how we can use emerging technology to fix that.


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