HED/CINE 527: Documentary for Health and Social Justice

Students from all disciplines (no film experience necessary) are invited to join the Fall 2015 / Spring 2016 cohort to make short documentaries that explore the question:

What will it take to make the United States one of the best places to raise children?


What story will you tell?

Did you know that our experiences in the first years of life can get under the skin and shape our developing brains?

What happens to us as babies builds the foundation for how we will learn, process information, regulate our emotions, and how our physical health will unfold over the course of our lives.

The science is clear: babies need safe, secure, and nurturing relationships and environments to thrive as children and into adulthood. But as economist Robert Dugger says, “Our policies in the U.S. actually actively discourage parents from being able to take care of their children when they’re very young.”

The lack of paid parental leave, dependable transportation, living wages, quality affordable childcare, good public schools, affordable housing, safe neighborhoods—just to name some of the stressors—is squeezing middle and low-income parents for time, money, and resources. And that stress can ‘drip down’ on babies altering brain development.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We invite you to join us and use film as a social justice tool to advance dialogue toward solutions.

Course Details

Documentary for Health and Social Justice-HED/CINE 527 is a two-semester class, Fall 2015-Spring 2016.

The class meets on Fridays:

  • Lecture 9:10am – 11:50am
  • Lab 1:10pm – 3:50pm

Students work in interdisciplinary teams of 3 or 4. Each team will partner with a community organization and research, film and edit a 10 – 15 minute documentary.

Fall 2015 Overview Spring 2015 Overview
  • Form interdisciplinary teams
  • Choose and research your topic
  • Partner with a Community Organization
  • Practice using the camera and editing software
  • Begin filming interviews
  • Complete shooting
  • Edit film using digital software
  • Create discussion guide and ancillary materials
  • Year-long course culminates in a community screening


Since 2006, students have been creating films in Documentary for Health and Social Justice that have been used at community events, in organizations, and at film screenings.

We have over 50 free films on our website, that we invite you to watch and share with others today!