As the ASPIRE Fellow in Socially Engaged Media at UCLA, I develop interdisciplinary digital media production courses for students in liberal arts majors. These have included “Documentary Production for Social Change: Mobility in Los Angeles,” cross-listed in Disability Studies and Urban Planning, “Diasporic Nonfiction: Media Engagements with Memory and Displacement,” cross-listed in Chicana/o Studies and African-American Studies, and “Making Films About Food,” part of a year long Freshman Cluster course titled “Food: A Lens on Environment and Sustainability.” I teach critical media literacy through collaborative production practice to highly diverse groups of students, and have employed this approach in both seminars and lecture courses (“Food,” A Grocery Story environmental science research and media arts project on the sustainability of producing items in the grocery store).
Twenty-student seminars have included undergraduates from as many as seventeen different majors. Project-based assignments lead students to represent the activities of community organizations committed to social justice activism in Los Angeles. Across the quarter, as students develop capacities to critique, shoot, edit, and distribute issue-focused documentary works, they also learn about the missions, strategies, and ideas at the center of the organizations they document. At the end of each course, students organize a public screening and discussion of their work, and conduct a social media outreach campaign to involve stakeholders from campus and the community. A number of these works have screened at other venues on campus and in the greater Los Angeles region. Many of the students who have taken a course have pursued independent projects with me in subsequent quarters, or worked on the issues at the center of their film projects in other ways. Several examples of student work are below.
Selects from the final project films completed for the freshman seminar course “Making Films about Food,” part of the yearlong cluster “Food: A lens on environment and sustainability.” Screened publicly at UCLA as “The 5F Project: Five Fabulous Films on Figuring Out Food” (students’ title choice) in the spring of 2016.
By Kayleigh Wade
First generation Chicana comes into her identity as a queer mujer and struggles with maintaining different expressions of her identity on campus and back in her hometown in Southeast Los Angeles.
An Introduction to the Urban School Food Alliance (USFA)
By Sanna Alas and Robert Penna
One of five white board videos made on behalf of the USFA as an independent study. These videos support USFA’s national policy positions to promote healthy, sustainable food procurement and nutritional education in the five largest school districts in the United States. Sponsored by the Healthy Campus Initiative, Undergraduate Education Initiatives, and ASPIRE at UCLA, and the UC Global Food Initiative.
By Andrene Scott, Vladimir Santos, Anthony Elder, Isaura Rivera-Anagnos
Documents aspects of the campaign “Do You See Me Now?” the Los Angeles Black Worker Center has developed to empower and raise awareness of the lack of Black workers hired at construction sites in the L.A. County.
By Matthew Marcos, Yazmine Mihojevich, Bill Nipper, Subi Ross, Suzanna Tran, and Kevin Waitkuweit
Students with disabilities encounter many challenges commuting to and from UCLA as well as accessing different parts of the university campus. This is the story of one student’s journey.
Alejandra’s Quesadilla Cart
By Kimberly Soriano and Janeth Lopez
An independent street vendor describes her struggles and motivation to continue her business in the face of gentrification in the neighborhood of Echo Park.