Lecturer: Joanna Lipper



New technology and democratized access to digital media powerfully impact strategies aiming to heighten global awareness of local issues and are integral to efforts seeking to inspire empathy, political engagement, social activism and charitable giving.  With a focus on race, gender and identity, this course will explore the portrayal of the human condition across cultures in feature films, documentaries and photography. Students will work with local non-profits, activists and community leaders to create their own multimedia projects.





a film by KJ Stime
A Portrait of Dr. Bailor Barrie, a physician from Sierra Leone who is fighting the Ebola epidemic in his home country.


a film by Dorothy Atkinson
At the age of fifty, Lisa Horner was incarcerated along with her husband for drug trafficking.  After being released from prison, she became the first woman graduate of the Transitional Employment Program at the Haley House Bakery Café.



a film by Joseph Brennan

Srdja Popovic, a world-famous Serbian activist and founder of the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Actions and Strategies (CANVAS), discusses his thoughts on the Civil Rights Movement and Black Lives Matter.  



Portrait of Brooklyn-native Joe Bartley, an optimist who has navigated life through crime, prison, and reintegration into society.


a film by Jenny Fung

The story of what inspired author Katie Smith Milway to write a children's book about Kojo, a boy from Ghana who receives a small loan from his mother and uses it to buy a hen which then turns into a successful chicken farm business


a film by Lauren Bromage

In a low-income neighborhood in Boston, Haley House proves that nutritious meals can be made affordable. 


Food with Purpose: A Portrait of the Transitional Employment Program

a film by Civry Melvin
Addresses challenges of re-entry for men after incarceration

Beyond Barriers

a film by Annie Ryu
Portrait of Sylvia Stevens-Edouard, M.S., Executive Director of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF), who came of age during the Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation Movements and overcame racial, economic and gender barriers to create her nontraditional path to leadership, winning a regional Emmy for her work as a television journalist along the way

Barbershop Health Network: A System in Crisis

a film by Adabelle Ekechukwu
Addresses disparities in health care for men of color

Science Club For Girls

a film by Crisellyson Solimon
Addresses gender inequities in girls from diverse backgrounds in STEM fields

Father’s Uplift

a film by Akshay Sharma
Activist Charles Daniels founds a non-profit dedicated to helping absent fathers reconnect with their children


Refugees:  Resilence, Reality and Reform

a film by Ming Cheung
Explores diverse backgrounds of refugees and their distinct, compelling reasons for seeking asylum

Portrait of Larry Mayes, Vice-President of Catholic Charities of Boston

a film by Ralph Hunt
One of Boston's community leaders recalls his upbringing in New Haven and the turning point in his life that led him to focus on a career in the non-profit sector

Portrait of Dr. Kamanzi Emmanuel, Partners in Health Rwanda

a film by Ishani Premaratne
Tells the story of Rwanda's first rural hospital dedicated to treating cancer

Portrait of Joh Camara

a film by Debbie Onuoha
Portrait of a drummer and dancer from Mali




"Definitely life-changing...  The skills we learned are invaluable."

"The opportunities presented in the class are many... You leave the class with a new understanding of many global issues and a greater appreciation for the work of journalists and documentary filmmakers.  This course has led me to reexamine my interests in filmmaking and reconsider how I might pursue them moving forward. I hope now to apply to law school with the overarching end of being a documentary filmmaker, in part because the documentarians presented in the course content gave me a better general understanding of what good might be done with a law degree and how it might help pressure for social change."

"I loved this class! I consider it the best elective I've taken yet at Harvard..."

"Thank you for pushing me outside my comfort zone...  After an enlightening summer filmmaking in Ghana, some of the work we produced was shown at the Clinton Global Initiative Conference in NYC...  As of last week I have been accepted into the White House internship program for the Spring, where I will be working with the head videographer in the Office of Digital Strategy."

"Through my internship at Viacom, I recently competed in a marketing contest among the interns to promote MTV's Video Music Awards. I was a winner two out of the three weeks, largely due to the videos I created. My success in the contest was definitely due to what I learned in your class."

"Your class last year remains a valuable experience that keeps on giving. My film project on refugees was featured prominently in my law school application and also came up in my scholarship interviews - particularly since one interviewer was the first ever, Haitian-American, federal judge.  Last week, I started volunteering with a non-profit that works with immigrants, and they're interested in having me work on a film project to increase their presence. Thank you for your support and for introducing me to a field that I otherwise would not have explored!"

"...the most influential course that I took at Harvard."