Media and Movements

Storytelling for Justice

Add your voice to the growing media justice movement. Seek out and amplify hidden stories. No production experience necessary.

Accepting applications for Fall 2021, Spring 2022.

Program Structure

Class meets twice a week for seminar-style discussion and practical skill-building sessions in the digital laboratory. Students take an 8 credit internship and seminar that supports their digital media training, allowing them to apply their developing skills at a local organization.

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

Fall 2021 (Sept. 8 - Dec. 17), Spring 2022 (Feb. 1 - May 13)


16 credits

Program Overview

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. Media and Movements: Storytelling for Justice 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.


Emily Oliver

Emily is a poet and educator who lives in South Minneapolis. Since 2017, Emily has worked at Carleton College where she was the Associate Director for Academic Civic Engagement and Scholarship in the Center for Civic and Community Engagement and a lecturer in the program for Ethical Inquiry. With Ed Studies faculty Anita Chikkatur, Emily is the Co-PI of the Carleton Faribault PAR Collaboration, a participatory action research project about educational equity in Faribault, MN. Thanks to the support of a Carleton Public Works Initiative grant, Emily and Faribault community organizer Cynthia Gonzalez, recently co-designed and co-taught the course Community-based Learning & Scholarship: Ethics, Practices.  

Previously, Emily taught as a lecturer in the English Department at Cornell University where she received her MFA in Poetry.  She also taught courses, through the Cornell Prison Education Program at Auburn Correctional Facility and the Telluride Association Summer Program.

Emily’s poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, DIAGRAM and elsewhere. Her book manuscript was named a finalist for the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize at Persea Books. In 2019, her co-written article Digital Participatory Poetics and Civic Engagement in the Creative Writing Classroom was published in the Journal of Creative Writing Studies. An article Emily co-wrote with CS Professor Amy Cizmar-Dalal, “Case Study: A Multi-year Community-Engaged Learning Capstone in Computer Science,” is forthcoming from The Journal of Higher Education Outreach & Engagement. 

Za'Nia Coleman

Za’Nia Coleman is an interdisciplinary artist and Co-Organizer of the Tangible collective. At SPNN, she works as the Media Center Coordinator & Youth Program Facilitator. Her primary medium is film focusing on documentary and oral history. She has been holding spaces and creating experiences that center black thought and expression in the Twin Cities for over three years. Along with her cultural work she works with textiles in theatre and teaches community sewing classes. The root of her work is sustaining traditional and historical practices around love, pleasure, cultural expression and community building.


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 the program’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 (8 Credits)

This internship is 150 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.

Complete Syllabus


While the majority of Media and Movements students intern with SPNN, internship placement is determined by the interests and skill levels of students and the current needs of partner organizations. Students intern 12-15 hours/week, 150 hours total. Below are details of a few recently completed internships and projects.

Community Technology Empowerment Program (CTEP)

HECUA interns work 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 recent HECUA interns were 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 — based on his technical experiences and skill level with filming — completed his internship 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.

Program Costs

Fee Breakdown: Media and Movements: Storytelling for Justice is a semester-long program based in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota that allows students to have an immersive, community-based learning experience. 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 pay $9,200.

Group B schools

Students from all consortium member schools except Denison University and the University of Minnesota pay $14,600.

*unDACAmented students from Augsburg College receive a $3,000 scholarship from Augsburg for a 16 credit course.

Group C schools

Students from nonmember schools and Denison University pay $15,500.

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.



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). Click here to view all scholarships.

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