Making Media, Making Change
Digital Technologies, Storytelling, and Activism
Add your voice to the growing media justice movement. Seek out and amplify hidden stories. No production experience necessary.
Class meets twice a week for seminar-style discussion and practical skill-building sessions in the “digital laboratory.” Students begin work at their internship placement sites during the second week of class, and can expect to spend 10-20 hours per week at their site. Students can opt to take a 4 credit internship with hands-on practice and learning in film and digital technologies, communications, and storytelling, or an 8 credit internship that also includes mentorship and support for a film that is either self-designed, or created in collaboration with their internship site host.
Topics & Themes
Storytelling in social movements, social impact film and video, media justice and community media, the politics of representation, video activism in the digital age.
St. Paul Neighborhood Network, St. Paul, MN
Terms & Dates
Spring 2019: on hiatus; Fall 2019: September 3 - December 13; Spring 2020: February 4 - May 15
12 or 16 credits
Narrative is the lens through which we see the world and a tool we can use to shape it. Students spend the semester exploring the ways in which media and film can either reinforce dominant stories or disrupt them, amplifying different perspectives and possibilities. As an active learning community, they ask: What stories are we seeing, and why? How can film play a role in organizing for change? By the end of the semester, all students will have the skills needed to produce films that inform, inspire, and activate. Making Media, Making Change is taught in collaboration with the St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN), a community media center that puts cameras into the hands of historically marginalized producers. Students of all experience levels have the opportunity to hone their artistic and creative voice by producing three original films, including a final work created in collaboration with a local nonprofit. In addition to hands-on training, students meet artists, community leaders, and activists committed to creating media that matters. Student work is situated in the context of a growing movement to make media accessible, relevant, and reflective of diverse voices.
Staff and Faculty
Program Co-Director Erin Walsh taught undergraduate students at both the University of Minnesota and at HECUA for over a decade before conceiving of and helping to create Making Media, Making Change in 2014. Her work has always been fueled by a commitment to unpacking the ways in which digital media and technologies shape learning, relationships, and our capacity to create positive social change. During her graduate work at the University of Minnesota, she investigated ways that organizers in rural California used story-based strategies and personal storytelling to disrupt dominant media narratives and build political power. Fascinated by the way that digital technologies can both amplify and mute the power of our stories, Erin has since worked with educators, families, and communities across the country to translate research in this field into meaningful action. Erin is also a nationally recognized speaker and trainer for multiple organizations including Mind Positive Parenting, Bolster Collaborative, and Youth Frontiers, speaking on issues related to digital media, teaching and learning, and child and youth development. She has worked with undergraduate students and non-profit organizations on digital storytelling and storymapping projects in addition to consulting with schools, school districts, and youth serving organizations throughout the country on issues related to critical media literacy and youth development. She is honored to be teaching at HECUA, exploring timely and important questions with students about what it means to be an agent of change in the 21st century. On Teaching “As an undergraduate student, I spent equal time traveling the country on a school bus as I did on University of Wisconsin, Madison’s campus. “The Bus,” or the Audubon Expedition Institute, is a traveling experiential education program designed to bring students into relationship with movements for social and environmental justice in different regions of the U.S. and Canada. Transferring between one of the nation’s largest universities and one of the smallest (and most mobile), allowed me to build meaningful bridges between the academy and communities. As a student I was hungry for pathways that meaningfully linked the theories and concepts I learned in the classroom with the “situated messiness” I discovered in the world around me. Having gained so much from being a student where the world was my classroom, I am thrilled to be able to work with undergraduates who are similarly hungry to put knowledge to work. It is clear that the “world as it is” necessitates critical examination. Yet critical examination is especially effective when paired with the generative work of activism and art. I love facilitating learning experiences that allow students to use both their heads and their hearts, nurturing intellectual, social, and creative practices that unleash students’ imaginations about the way the world could be and inspire hope in the face of injustice. I work to create a learning environment where students can strengthen their voice, build community, and ask critical questions that link theory to practice.” Preferred Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Program Co-Director D.A. Bullock is an award-winning filmmaker and social practice artist, and a foremost leader in the field of story-based organizing and activism. His films have been featured at national and international festivals including Toronto International Film Festival & Chicago International Film Festival, and he was winner of best feature film at 2003 Urbanworld Film Festival in New York. See some of his work at Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/bullyworldwide In 2011 D.A. founded Bully Creative Shop, a feature film, documentary, media art, and digital content social enterprise. D.A. is a 2014 McKnight IFP Media Artist Fellow, 2015 MN State Arts Board Grant recipient, and 2016 Intermedia Arts / City of Minneapolis Creative Citymaking Artist. His cinematography work can be seen currently in the documentary film VANISHING PEARLS, available on Netflix. D.A. also developed a mobile, artist-designed engagement pulpit in collaboration with JXTA, a youth arts organization in north Minneapolis (and an internship partner of HECUA). The pulpit has made appearances at several community events across Minneapolis to give the community a creative platform for speaking their minds. The concept is for all residents of Minneapolis to have a voice and a platform to share and shape what equity and the future of Minneapolis will look like. In the last two years, D.A. has been working on a project for the City of Minneapolis, The Blueprint for Equitable Engagement, a multi-year strategic action plan led by the city’s Neighborhood and Community Relations department (NCR). The Blueprint is designed to ensure an equitable community engagement system for the city and to ensure the city’s engagement efforts are equitable in their approach and implementation. The Blueprint ensures that all community voices are sought and valued, and that decision-makers reflect the communities they serve. The Blueprint project has been meeting with a range of community members and city officials to hear about their definition of the term “equity.” D.A. is developing a series of short video segments to pilot using video as a public comment format. In 2016 Bullock co-founded The Underground Media Collective, a community based media co-op designed to re-imagine public media specializing in media justice, media literacy, and new media distribution for community voices.
From Consumers to Creators (4 credits)
The From Consumers to Creators course is a critical exploration of the role of storytelling and media in social change efforts. Students examine the ways that story is both a lens through which you understand the world and a tool you can use to shape it. Students have the opportunity to learn about and evaluate media-based activist strategies in the context of competing theoretical perspectives on media and society. Students use theory and field experiences to reflect upon and hone your own digital practices as an effective agent of social change.
Digital Laboratory (4 credits)
The Digital Laboratory course is focused on the development and production of compelling videos. Students videography is expected to demonstrate both innovative content and high quality production. As part of this course, students will be trained by SPNN staff in camera operations, aesthetics of video production, shot composition, audio, lighting, and editing. Students work will be graded with their growing skill set in mind. The grading rubric assesses both technical improvement and improvements in story-telling ability. This reflects MMMC’s focus on media that catalyzes social change. By the end of the semester students will be able to produce video suitable for public broadcast.
Applied Internship (4 or 8 Credits)
Students have the option of either a 4 or 8-credit internship course during the program. This internship is a minimum of 100 hours and takes place at SPNN or other internship site placements around the Twin Cities based on student interest and skill level. Students may:
- Build on Digital Laboratory skills to create programming
- Produce professional-level videos for community clients.
- Assist in the daily work of the organization such as communications, youthwork, or fundraising.
- Teach community producers basic video production skills and act as a resource for community programming.
All students will meet regularly with program faculty and classmates to reflect on their work, integrate the internship with program content, and receive support toward accomplishing individual learning goals. HECUA interns are able to explore multiple skills while taking on their own independent film projects during the second half of their internships.
Students have the option of a 4 or 8-credit internship course the term following the coursework. For students with significant production experience, it may be possible to enroll in the internship course at the same time as the two linked courses. Below are details of a few recently completed internships and projects. Note that all internship sites in Making Media, Making Change are hosted by community partner SPNN. Internship site placement can change semester to semester in response to the needs of the organization, and when possible, in response to the specific interests of students in the program.
Community Technology Empowerment Program (CTEP)
The HECUA intern worked with the Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP) at SPNN, a program that works to close the digital divide for new immigrants and low-income communities in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The HECUA intern was the production manager for four CTEP AmeriCorps technology civic engagement videos. One example of the videos they created was to highlight “Stop! Animate!” a three- week stop-motion animation camp for the youth at CLUES.
SPNN Community Productions
Two HECUA students spent the summer as production interns with the Community Productions department at SPNN. One student helped coordinate and schedule guests for the SPNN Forum series. She played a big role in seeking out speakers, scheduling and prepping the shows, and even interviewing guests on a few occasions. The other student completed his SPNN internship during the same semester that he was taking the MMMC course. He received special permission based on his technical experiences and skill level with filming, and completed an 8-credit, 200-hour internship housed with the Community Productions department at SPNN. He was very quickly treated like a staff member in the department, operating the camera at community events like the Saint Paul Forum, and at a number of community parades. He also worked on graphics, and in post-production and spent time filming episodes of Candy Fresh, an original live music and dance show highlighting local artists in front of a live audience.
Line Break Media
Line Break works with artists, organizers, and advocates to craft their stories into powerful instruments for transformative social change. The HECUA student intern spent his semester working on multiple film projects including pre- and post-production and editing work for a short animation used at an event for a Minnesota-based funder, and working from the beginning to the end of a video for the Hmong American Farmers Association.
Fee Breakdown: Making Media, Making Change is a semester-long program based in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota that allows students to remain on their home campuses but also have an immersive, community-based learning experience. Part-time program fees include tuition, all reading materials, field visits (including meals while traveling), and tickets to events and opportunities associated with the program. More information regarding program costs and fee breakdowns.
Group A schools
Students from the University of Minnesota fall into this category. For two courses (8 credits) plus a 4-credit internship: $7,120 For two courses (8 credits) plus an 8-credit internship: $8,900
Group B schools
Students from all member and affiliate member schools except Denison University, and the University of Minnesota.* For two courses (8 credits) plus a 4-credit internship: $10,775 For two courses (8 credits) plus an 8-credit internship: $13,500 *unDACAmented students from Augsburg College receive a $2,100 scholarship from Augsburg for a 16 credit course.
Group C schools
Students from Denison University and nonmember schools. Although a HECUA member, Denison has opted to apply its member discount to a grant program dedicated to assisting low-income Denison students who wish to participate in a HECUA program. For two courses (8 credits) plus a 4-credit internship: $11,575 For two courses (8 credits) plus an 8-credit internship: $14,300
HECUA distributes scholarships to students from consortium member schools: Scholarship for Racial Justice (up to $4,000); the Scholarship for Social Justice (up to $1,500); and the Scholarship for Community Engagement (up to $750 for semester-long programs, and $500 for short-term programs). Learn more about the HECUA Scholarship program.
Good to Know
This program consists of two linked courses (8 credits total). The topics we will cover in the program are complex and interrelated, though you will receive separate grades for the following 2 semester classes:
- From Consumers to Creators (4 Credits)
- Digital Laboratory (4 Credits)
Due to the interrelated nature of the content and field experiences, you are required to take both courses simultaneously (in other words, you cannot only sign up for only one of the courses). You can continue to take classes on your home campus in addition to the 8 HECUA credits. This gives you the flexibility to continue making progress on campus while engaging in an immersive, experiential, community-based program. These programs offer an optional internship, for either 4 or 8 credits. This internship takes place after the two linked courses have concluded.
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