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Game Scholar Henry Jenkins to Leave MIT for USC

Game Scholar Henry Jenkins to Leave MIT for USC

November 18, 2008 | By Jill Duffy

Game and pop culture educator and academic Henry Jenkins will be leaving the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program to pursue a new position at the University of Southern California.

The professor, whose game-related projects at the university include The Education Arcade and the Dream Build Play-winning GAMBIT Singapore-MIT Game Lab, will continue at MIT until the end of the current academic year.

The academic, who has been at the university for almost 20 years and was interviewed by Gamasutra in 2006, is director of the Comparative Media Studies Program and a Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities.

Jenkins posted a deeply heartfelt farewell announcement on his blog earlier today, but did not refrain from acknowledging one issue with the university " that it has not given the CMS program enough full-time faculty:

“Through this program, we have formed a powerful network of alums and affiliates which stretches around the globe and straddles between many different sectors where media change is having an impact.

I've had the chance to form an intense intellectual partnership with my co-Director William Uricchio which has been the most rewarding collaboration of my life. Collectively, we've done paradigm-shifting research and we've helped launch many careers. I love CMS.

But I have also struggled with the reality that we do not have the level of faculty commitment from MIT to allow us to sustain this kind of activity long term.

Despite a decade of arguments, we still have only two dedicated faculty members on whose back all of the activity you've been reading about here has rested. I'm often asked how I manage to do everything I do and now you know the sad answer: I can't -- at least not year after year. Even Green Lantern needs to recharge his ring now and again.”

Of his decision to be a part of USC, Jenkins said he “was profoundly inspired by Ernest Wilson, the charismatic and visionary new Dean of the Annenberg School” and that he already had a “wide array of friends there who were ready to greet me with open arms.”

USC will also be providing Jenkins with what he called “a truly interdisciplinary position, one which straddles the Communications and Cinema Schools and which is designed to encourage collaboration and conversation between their diverse faculty.”

In the game space, USC is particularly known for its Interactive Media division, which has helped to birth projects including Flow and The Night Journey.

Jenkins also wrote that he is committed to finishing the year at MIT, specifically to not abandon first year students who attended the school because of him. The professor has also written and edited nine books on media and popular culture. He is often seen as an expert on science fiction, particularly Star Trek.

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