since 1965  (really?)

Film for Thought: A Survey of American Documentary Film and its Role as a Tool for Social Change and Advocacy

This course listing applies to a Spring 2010 course. To find current courses, check out the Find a Course page.

Spring 2010
Social Welfare 98 / 198
2 Unit(s)

Human friendly URL (OBSOLETE)


About the Course:

Each week, students will watch a documentary film based on a specific theme in documentary filmmaking.  This viewing will be in class and will be followed by a discussion among students in large group, small group, and specific topic-led discussion.  Many of these films are not mainstream films and therefore are not widely accessible.  Additionally, these films are most powerful when viewed in a social setting and when discussed immediately after their viewing.  As a result, students will be expected to view these films in the class setting, followed by a discussion of the film.  Films will be supplemented with up to date information about each topic on which the documentaries are focused.  Although this makes the class two and a half hours long, it precludes film viewing outside of the classroom. 

      In addition, students will be expected to write three response papers to the themes discussed in various documentaries.  Each student may choose the individual themes that most interest them, but each paper must discuss personal responses to the theme, areas of social change that they perceive as important related to these themes, and ways in which people can utilize the messages of these documentary films to take social action in the personal plane and in the forums of social policy, whether they be governmental or grassroots. 



Evaluation Procedures 

In order to receive a PASS grade, a student must: 

1) Attend all class meetings.

      Students will be allowed one free absence throughout the semester.  After that absence, they are allowed one absence that can be made up by writing an additionally response paper.  If the student has more than two absences, or has two absences and does not submit an additional response paper for that absence, they will receive a NOT PASS in the class.  Excused absences can be obtained through email with the facilitator.  The email must be received prior to the class period in question and will only be considered in emergency situations or valid personal reasons.  

2) Actively participate in class discussions.

      Students must attend the sessions and watch the documentaries, without distractions (including cell phones, email, computers, ad other class work).  Additionally, students must complete the readings for each week when they are assigned and vocalize their opinions and reactions to each documentary.  There will be many opportunities for students to participate, including in small and large group discussions.  The facilitator of the class will keep records of each student’s participation and their participation will be evaluated at the end of the course. 

3) Complete three, one to two-page assignments.

      Students may choose three themes as presented in the syllabus and must write a one to two-page response (double spaced if typed) to the theme, how it was portrayed in the documentary, and what avenues for social change that remain for them after they have viewed the film.  These assignments will be due the following week after the topic on which it is written was presented.   





How to Enroll:

First come, first served!  

Course Contact: lillians AT

Faculty Sponsor: Professor Valerie Edwards

Time & Location:

Film for ThoughtLillian Schenck
75110 BarrowsM 8p-10p1/25full

Uploaded Files:

Syllabus: Film for Thought Final Syllabus.docMar 1040kbWord Doc (Viewer)View Download

Course info last modified March 10, 2010. This page has been viewed 2301 times.

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