Moody launches Institute for Media Innovation

William Kosinski

The Moody College of Communication announced last week the creation of the Institute for Media Innovation, a research and practice hub for new media.

The institute, opening later this fall, will be open to faculty and students across different colleges in the University and allow them to apply new interdisciplinary research in media. Jay Bernhardt, dean of the Moody College of Communication, said the institute will also partner with regional and national companies to impact society and economic development.

“Our goal in Moody College is to be the most innovative and interdisciplinary college of communication in the world,” Bernhardt said in an email. “We may already be among the leaders in these regards, but with this new institute, we are quite confident that we will be at the top.”

Bernhardt appointed Samuel Watkins, a radio-television-film professor, to lead the institute. Bernhardt said Watkins’ research on young adults in media and their impact on culture and society made him a perfect candidate.

“I’d like for the institution to be recognized for excellence both in terms of research and knowledge production,” Watkins said. “I’d like the institution to be a space where faculty and students can tinker with the future of media.”

The two-part institute will achieve Watkins’ goals by first researching problems related to media and then developing applications from their findings.

Watkins said a potential first study will provide an overview of how young people use social media at UT, and other studies will branch out from there to address issues they find.

“In order to keep up or get ahead, you need to do things that are based on more than just a whim,” said Natalie England, communications manager for the Office of the Dean. “There will be questions with real research to create tangible solutions.”

Watkins said come spring, he anticipates research to begin swiftly, but there is much brainstorming and designing to do before then.

“We want the institute to, from the beginning, emphasize its research capacity and its creative capacity,” Watkins said. 

With six departments in the Moody College, England said she hopes the institute becomes a place of collaboration for the betterment of society.

“If we are at UT, and UT says, ‘What starts here changes the world,’ then it is our responsibility to be a part of that somehow,” England said.