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Course Framework

This course offers a unique and powerful interdisciplinary curriculum that brings the themes and values of equity and social justice into the critical analysis and practice of film and media arts. It is rooted in critical media literacy–an inquiry-based process for analyzing and creating media. Critical media literacy offers a transformative pedagogy that centers students’ identities, lives, communities and lived experiences. Through this curriculum, students learn to be active participants in creating the world around them. They identify issues and problems in need of change and conceive of how they can use media to call for a better, more equitable, and just world for all.

student films three students repairing a computer

Course Objectives

Image by Noom Peerapong

Unit 1:

Identity & Media Objectives

  • Access, evaluate, and integrate personal and external resources, such as interests, research, and cultural experiences, to inform the creation of original media artworks, using primary and secondary sources.

  • Demonstrate openness, risk taking, ethics and responsibility in addressing identified challenges and constraints in media making and collaboration with classmates.

  • Decode and critically analyze media representation and social construction of a range of identities (race, ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ+, socio-economic status, religion, etc).

  • Develop a nuanced understanding of the ways power, privilege and difference shape social identities, equity, and access.

Video Editors

Unit 2:

Storytelling & Society Objectives

  • Analyze the intent, meanings, reception and impacts of various media narratives and genres.

  • Analyze historical and social contexts tied to social justice and civil rights considering how history is represented through media forms.

  • Assess the role, value and impact of local and global media in upholding equity and social justice through fiction and nonfiction formats.

  • Critically investigate strategies of advocacy and activism in historical and contemporary contexts.


Unit 3:

Critical Thinking & Making Objectives

  • Understand and apply creative approaches to ideate, write and produce media that supports equity and social justice.

  • Critically evaluate the power of media industries, markets and systems as well as their messages on audiences.

  • Practice and apply deliberate design choices and critical thinking to media-making, considering desired outcomes and audiences.

  • Gain proficiency in the use of creative tools and digital media production technology, including camera, lighting, audio, and editing equipment to produce original works and remix existing digital resources into new creations.

  • Demonstrate knowledge of media industry practices, including roles, terminology and organizational structures.

Course Assignments

colorful collage featuring a chimpanze in a baseball hat with a cigarette in a convertible, a daschund wearing a head scarf, a woman singing, and a woman in a dress walking with her purse

Project 1: 

Identity Collage

UNIT 1 Weeks 1-5

The Identity Collage is composed of two media forms — a visual collage and a short poem. Students explore representation in terms of their social identities through both image and text. They analyze how media is encoded with meaning and gain practice in decoding media messages. By appropriating found media and creating their own, students communicate their ideas about who they are.  

map of the world with several push pins on it and various types of currency scattered around

Project 2:

MAP Project:

UNIT 2 Weeks 6-12

The MAP Project builds on the concepts, themes and media production skills of Project 1: Identity Collage. Students use their personal voices to reflect on 3 to 5 geographic locations that hold value to them and shape their sense of identity, community, culture and belonging.  Using image, sound, voice-over, and text, students represent their ideas about the importance of these places.  A primary anchor for the project is the “Guided Tour” script and audio recording generated from a series of critical written reflections that students produce to ideate and develop the project. Through this project, students investigate social issues impacting their community that give rise to questions of equity.

woman stands to the right filming a group of four people in front of her

Project 3:

Advocacy Project

UNIT 2 Weeks 13-17

The Advocacy Project builds on the themes, concepts and media production skills of Projects 1 and 2, asking students to continue to explore issues impacting their community that they want to address. Students leverage the critical thinking, research and media produced for the MAP Project to support the creation of a 2-3 minute video that offers a “call to action” to mobilize social change. Through the Advocacy Project, students communicate the issues they care about in order to inspire people to think differently or take action. Students explore their agency as critical media makers who can use their voice to advocate for equity and social justice in their communities and beyond.

black male wearing a black durag holds his fist in the air and a sign reading libery and justice for all

Project 4:

Imagining Equity Film

UNIT 3 Weeks 18-37

Students work in small groups to produce short documentary films — 7 to 15 minutes in length — that address issues of equity and social justice in their community, city, state, nation and beyond. Students leverage the concepts, themes and media production skills acquired in the first semester; the issues they explored in creating the Identity Collage, MAP and Advocacy Projects undergo further critical and creative investigation. Students continue to explore their identity, personal voice and agency as critical media makers capable of advocating for social change.

Course Outline

collage of film strips
Image by Peter Gargiulo

Unit 1

Identity & Media

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