University of Colorado officials revealed early plans Wednesday for two new colleges: one focused on media, communication and information to replace the now-shuttered traditional journalism school; plus a second college that gives environmental and sustainability education room to grow.

If approved by the Board of Regents, they would be the first newly formed colleges at CU in five decades.

Provost Russell Moore will be putting together committees of faculty members and budget and planning officers to draw up the proposals for the new colleges, including detailed plans for curriculum and funding.

Within a year, campus leaders plan to bring their proposals to the Board of Regents for approval. They'll likely include a package of new degree proposals, too. The university hopes to launch the two new colleges in 2015 and enroll students in the new programs that same year.

The new colleges would allow for interdisciplinary teaching and research opportunities, Moore said.

CU officials said the college devoted to media, communication and information would house programs in journalism, advertising and design, communication, film production and film studies, media studies and a new department in information studies.


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The proposed college of the environment and sustainability, Moore said, would "bring together some of the finest researchers and teachers on the campus" in disciplines such as environmental science, environmental policy and environmental design while "drawing upon assets from some of the campus' most dynamic institutes," including the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research and the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute.

In both cases, Moore said he "expects demand to go up."

For example, university statistics show that last fall, environmental studies was the sixth most popular major on the campus, enrolling 804 undergraduates. A decade ago, 429 students were majoring in environmental studies, and it ranked No. 18.

Moore said the recently acquired U.S. West building on CU's East Campus, near Colorado Avenue and Foothills Parkway, is being considered for housing the new environmental college.

In 2011, the university formally closed its traditional School of Journalism and Mass Communication, a rarity that required regents' approval.

Students can still earn degrees in journalism from CU, though. In fact, Christopher Braider, director of journalism and mass communication, said earlier this spring that the program's enrollment is slightly up. There are about 800 students in the department, of which roughly 10 percent are graduate students.

Braider said involving film in the new media college seems to be an ideal fit.

"Journalists are more frequently shooting video and editing, and creating documentaries," Braider said.

This generation of journalism students, he said, is eager to learn new skills -- including shooting video, editing, live streaming and photojournalism.

"They're learning that traditional news-editorial skills aimed toward print are not enough, given the nature of the job market," Braider said. "They are much more digitally literate."

Erica Raskin, a CU senior in media studies, will be graduating next week and said she wants to work in public relations or write tech content for a site like Mashable or TechCrunch.

She took advice from her father, an advertising executive in New York, who told her that too often new graduates have outdated skills, and he wants to hire professionals who have experience coding and working with software such as Adobe Dreamweaver.

She said she favors the plans for the new media college.

"They have to keep moving forward with the times," Raskin said.

For a high-tech edge, Raskin said she sought out a certificate in CU's Technology, Arts and Media Program, housed in the ATLAS Institute. Through that program, she said, she learned to use Adobe software and to build websites.

Similarly, CU senior Molly Hepworth, whose dream job would be working for National Public Radio, said she sought out an independent study in "innovative digital storytelling for news."

Because the new colleges would involve reorganization of existing resources and forming new degrees that are in high demand, Moore said he doesn't expect the endeavor would be too costly. Asked whether there would be layoffs in the process, Moore said it's unlikely.

Last year, CU considered merging its college of music, art and art history with a new, interdisciplinary college. The plans now being pursued by CU officials no longer consider that merger.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or anasb@dailycamera.com.