Why Study Media Arts and Design?


As new media continue to permeate every aspect of our existence, there is now little debate about the extent digital technologies intervene in our lives. Culture is exponentially evolving within an ecosystem defined by screens, networks, interfaces, databases, and algorithms. The impacts of digital and networked media design extend beyond individual products, giving form to our politics, social organization, and cognitive patterns. Criticality and self-reflexivity with the media we consume and the processes by which they are designed is essential to understanding and navigating our realities.

The Media Art and Design (MAAD) program at the University of Chicago has positioned itself to advance this reflexivity, decipher emergent technologies and cultures, and foster design strategies that blend artistic experimentation with ethical engagement and analytical rigor to creatively address real-world problems. 

The MAAD program focuses on the rapid developments in media and design that have fundamentally transformed contemporary life, opening these phenomena up to historical study, theoretical critique, and hands-on experimentation. Specialized clusters are central to the program, offering students focal points within this expansive discipline–spanning creative computing, digital sound and music, expanded cinema, games, and media performance. These clusters not only embody the program's commitment to a comprehensive and interdisciplinary education but also showcase the diverse expertise of the artists, designers, and practitioners leading MAAD classes.

The Media Arts and Design curriculum fosters discussion, presentation, and writing skills, as well as creativity and design, enabling students to approach today’s media environment and design-driven industries with critical, historical, and cultural perspectives. The program aims to cultivate graduates, who are not only adept at navigating the ambiguity and complexities of the current media environment, but are also prepared to be nimble innovators, critical makers, and bold creatives capable of reshaping it.