chapter  11
12 Pages

Entertainment industries at university: Designing a curriculum

ByChristy Collis, Alan McKee, Ben Hamley

Entertainment – defined as audience-centred commercial culture – is a massive global

industry sector which employs millions of people; entertainment products touch the lives

of a significant proportion of the world’s population. Yet while most universities provide

their students with opportunities to study some of the products of the entertainment

industries (often named as ‘popular culture’), and a few offer students study pathways to

professional work in one of the subsectors of the entertainment industries – primarily in

television work – universities have not, to date, developed curricula to train students for

professional careers in the massive, and flourishing, entertainment sector as a whole.

A variety of reasons contribute to the absence of ‘entertainment industries’ as a significant

field of critically and vocationally oriented tertiary study. Among these reasons is the

interdisciplinary nature of entertainment itself: the entertainment industries comprise

numerous subsectors – including movies, television, music, dance, festivals, publishing,

performance, theme parks, games, and multimedia. Dyer notes of entertainment as a

coherent category that ‘because it is so easy to use the term, I don’t think we easily know

what it means and involves’ (1992, ix), while Sayre and King observe that ‘considering the

prominence of entertainment in our daily lives, it is perplexing that the academic effort to

deal with this phenomenon has remained rather weak’ (2003, xviii) and scattered across

different academic disciplines and faculties. A second reason for the absence of

‘entertainment industries’ in tertiary curricula is the interdisciplinarity of work involved in

the production of entertainment. McWilliam, Hearn, and Haseman observe that ‘preparing

students for the creative workforce of the future requires at least some transdisciplinarity

in the university environment. However, such an environment is not so easily created in

practice’ (2008, 248). The work of a producer in the entertainment industries involves

several core skill and knowledge sets. Producing successful entertainment requires

Christy Collis, Alan McKee and Ben Hamley