Academics & Faculty

Groundbreaking collaboration harnesses digital media for social change

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A new pilot program at UCLA will educate undergraduate students from various majors in the College of Letters and Science on how to use new media to impact social change.
 
The program's first for-credit course, titled "Documentary Production for Social Change" and administered by the UCLA Division of Undergraduate Education, is made possible thanks to $150,000 in funding from the Academy for Social Purpose in Responsible Entertainment (ASPIRE). ASPIRE plans to develop partnerships with multiple American universities in the future building on lessons learned from its pilot collaboration with UCLA.
 
"We are delighted to work with ASPIRE to offer our undergraduates this powerful opportunity to use state-of-the-art media-making tools to engage pressing social challenges, both now and in their postgraduate careers," said Patricia A. Turner, dean and vice provost for undergraduate education at UCLA.
 
The spring course will focus on the subject of commuting to UCLA, gleaning from disciplines including anthropology, urban planning, disability studies, communication studies and the performing arts to think through questions of mobility in Los Angeles. Assignments will lead students to learn techniques in moving-image storytelling, new media distribution and assessment of efficacy.
 
"We are honored to collaborate in offering this ambitious pilot program at UCLA, one of the leading public universities in the nation," said ASPIRE President Peter Samuelson. "Our millennial generation grew up around digital media, and record numbers of students are deeply concerned about the social challenges they face. The overarching goal of the program is to empower them to tell inspiring and significant stories through film and new media. We strongly believe that this form of digital literacy will serve them well for the rest of their careers."
 
The program will also offer public film screenings and discussions in order to explore avenues for using media production as a tool for promoting social justice. Students in the course and the wider UCLA community will have the opportunity to meet prominent professional filmmakers through these regular special events. 
 
The ASPIRE board of advisors, which is active in promoting the program, is made up of leading media creators, including multiple Academy Award–winning documentarians. 
 
"Those of us professionally pursuing social change through double-bottom-line media relish the opportunity to help our new generation of young people acquire storytelling skills to make their world a better place," Samuelson said.
 
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