Film and Social Change [CRN 27412 Course] [CRN 27415 Lab]

Discipline: Communication Studies
Instructor: Lewis
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1400
End: 1520
Field Work: Day 1 | January 12, 2018 | Hawaii, United States
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

In this globally-focused, upper level course, we will:

  • SEE a variety of films from several different cultural locations;
  • ANALYZE these media “texts” within their sociopolitical, cultural, and historical “contexts;”
  • EVALUATE their social change impact and efficacy at raising awareness of specific issues, changing hearts and minds, or more direct political action; and
  • ARTICULATE ideas, reactions, and interpretations to film both orally and in writing.

This course is designed to introduce students to the ways in which the medium of film participates in efforts towards social change across the global landscape. You will gain an understanding of the relationship between artistic expression, culturally-specific context, societal impact, and political efficacy in films addressing social change. We will watch narrative fiction as well as documentary films, many tied to the places we will visit on our Spring 2018 voyage.

Films include work by filmmakers from across the globe such as: Ai Weiwei’s Never Sorry (China), Jehane Noujaim’s The Square (Egypt), Michael Patrick Kelly’s Operation Lysistrata (USA), Deepa Mehta’s Water (India/Canada), Deborah Hoffman and Frances Reid’s Long Night’s Journey Into Day (South Africa/USA), Justin Chadwick’s Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (South Africa/USA), Gillo Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers (Italy/Algeria), Ousmane Sembène’s Mooladé (Senegal), Megan Mylan and Jon Shenk’s Lost Boys of Sudan (Sudan/USA), and/or Fernando Meirelles’ The Constant Gardener (Brazil).

We will see films (live on excursion and digital films in and outside of class), engage in rigorous dissection of the films in class discussion, and write short responses to the films we see.


Field Work

Country: Hawaii, United States
Day: 1
Date: January 12, 2018

Paired with Fisher Steven’s film Before the Flood (2016), featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, and Al Gore’s 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth, we hear from expert climate change scientist, Dr. Charles “Chip” Fletcher from the University of Hawaii about his research on the impact of climate change, specifically rising sea levels and beach erosion, on island nations. We will also meet with sailors from the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Hokule’a, who have just finished a three year voyage around the world using only traditional Polynesian navigation knowledge of the ocean, stars, weather, and etc. reaching 150 ports, 23 nations and territories spreading their message of “Malama Honua,” which translates to caring for the island earth.

Learning Objectives:
  1. Learn from experts in climate change to gain vital scientific knowledge that complements the films
  2. Learn from Hokule’a’s sailors about what they experienced first-hand in the Pacific
  3. Witness climate change impacts on an island nation (Hawaii) first-hand
  4. Assess the efficacy of the medium of film in communicating and educating publics around climate science
  5. Discuss activist strategies and how to effect “social change” around these issues.