Donald Merritt is fascinated by the relationship between people and media technologies. The Texts and Technology PhD program proved to be the program that allowed him to pursue that interest. “The faculty understands that as we shape technology, technology also shapes us,” says Merritt. “By understanding that process and the technologies involved, we hope to create better technology and technological approaches to address the issues important to us---education, social and political equality, social cohesion, individual expression, and creativity.”
Merritt has been working with John Shafer, an associate professor with the UCF Conservatory Theatre, on convergent theatre, which is the integration of newer multimedia and distance technologies with the stage. Their most recent project was with Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois and the University of Waterloo, in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Merritt and Shafer used distance audio/video technologies to combine all three stages into one interactive performance which ran as a main-stage event at all three schools. “Collaboration can be a difficult process but when you find someone you work well with so well, you continue to do it for years. This is the sort of experience I’d want every student to have at least once while in school,” Merritt shares.