Media, Ecology & Technology

The goal of this course and overall experience is to provide students with an understanding of the complex relations between media, ecology, and technology, concentrating on the ecological impact of technology and consumer society; how media shape our visions of nature, ecology,
wilderness, and technological civilization. Here are some highlights of the course:

  1. Traditional classroom lecture/discussion in Phoenix and Arcosanti, AZ
  2. Night screenings of feature films and documentaries
  3.  1-hour lecture on the history and the ecological significance of Arcosanti design principles
  4. 1-hour lecture by Tomiaki Tamura, chief architect of Arcosanti
  5. Guided tour of Arcosanti
  6. Free time to explore Arcosanti and the surrounding desert landscapes
  7. Free time to access to downtown the Phoenix area

The week-long experience will culminate in the creation of a final project (video, photography, creative writing, presentation, etc.) that explores one, some or all of the themes explored throughout the week in Arizona. You can find an example of a final project at the bottom of this page.

Faculty Program Leaders

Barry Vacker

Barry Vacker teaches media and cultural studies at Temple University, where he is an associate professor in the Department of Media Studies and Production. From 2009 to 2014, Vacker served as faculty teaching mentor in the Klein College of Media and Communication. A full-time professor for 24 years, he earned his PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies: Communication, Philosophy, Law from the University of Texas at Austin in 1995.

Vacker’s most recent books include, Black Mirror and Critical Media Theory (co-edited by Temple alumna and Kutztown University Professor Angela Cirucci) and “Specter of the Monolith (2017),” a book about the human future in space and inspired by the sci-fi film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Vacker also edited the second edition of the text anthology “Media Environments” and is working with Julia Hildebrand from Drexel University on Media(s)cene, an innovative art and theory project. Overall, Vacker’s projects embrace an arts and sciences approach to creatively and critically theorize the intersection of media, philosophy, culture and technology, all of which shape human civilization around the world.

When not in Philadelphia during the summers, Vacker can be found hanging out in and around Marfa, Texas, where he owns some desert land with amazing sunsets and access to art, nature, science and some crazily ambitious experimental projects. Learn more about the Marfa area, including Big Bend National Park, the Blue Origin space launch site, the Chinati Foundation, the Clock of the Long Now and the McDonald Observatory.

Patrick Murphy

Patrick D. Murphy (PhD, Ohio University) is associate dean for research and graduate studies and associate professor in the Department of Media Studies and Production in the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University.  He is former chair of the Department of Media Studies and Production in Klein and former chair of the Department of Mass Communications at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Murphy has served as a visiting professor in the School of Communication and Humanities, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Querétaro, México. Additionally, he was a Fulbright-Garcia Robles fellow in Mexico, has served as a delegate of the American Documentary Showcase series, administered by the University Film and Video Association and funded in part by the U.S. Department of State, and has taught as a visiting professor for the University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea program.

His teaching and research interests include documentary media, ethnographic method, global media, Latin American media and cultural theory, media and the environment, and media and social justice. Murphy is the author of The Media Commons: Globalization and Environmental Discourses (University of Illinois Press, 2017), a book that explores how global media systems shape a contradictory environmental consciousness by paradoxically promoting the unsustainable consumption ravaging our planet. At the same time, it offers more progressive discourses of ecological intervention and redemption. Murphy is also co-editor of Negotiating Democracy: Media Transformation in Emerging Democracies (SUNY, 2007) and Global Media Studies (Routledge, 2003), and his work has appeared in Communication, Culture and Critique; Communication Theory; Cultural Studies; Global Media and Communication; Journal of International Communication; Popular Communication; and Qualitative Inquiry, as well as chapters in many edited books.  He has also translated into English articles by some of Latin America’s most prominent communication scholars.