Documenting Justice Course: Accepting Applications

Documenting Justice, a unique year-long documentary filmmaking class designed for non-film majors, is not accepting applications for our Fall 2010/Spring 2011 class. If you’re interested in exploring issues of social justice and documentary filmmaking apply now.

Documenting Justice is a specialized interdisciplinary course in documentary filmmaking and critical journalism, tracing the variety of ways in which documentary filmmakers and journalists represent culture and the relationship between the individual and society. Students devote two semesters to completing the class, which involves study in critical journalism, visual anthropology, ethnographic film, and the ethics of cinematic non-fiction, culminating in the creation of an original seven to nine minute film. The aim of the class is to learn how to use both film and the written word to document and analyze the many dimensions of culture and social experience at issue in matters of justice or injustice.

Alabama Documenting Justice

The Fall semester of the course is dedicated to instruction, exercises, and readings which familiarize students with the fundamentals of video production and their application to ethnographic and documentary approaches. Assignments raise representational, methodological, and ethical issues in documentary filmmaking. By the end of the first semester, students will be comfortable with the techniques of production and will select a topic for their film.

During the Spring semester, students shoot and edit an ethnographic film on their subject. Demonstrating a concern for justice in Alabama, such pieces may focus on an individual, a relationship, an occurrence, an institution, a sub-culture, or a worldview. Students will become well-acquainted with their subjects through extensive fieldwork and participant observation. In producing the final film, students will have access to state-of-the-art digital video cameras and post-production facilities at the College of Communication & Information Studies. The final films are premiered at a public screening at the BAMA Theater in downtown Tuscaloosa at the end of the semester.

An award-winning group of filmmakers collaborate as instructors in this team-taught course: Andy Grace, Director of Documenting Justice with the Department of Telecommunications & Film and Rachel Morgan, adjunct instructor at UA and instructor of radio and TV at Lawson State Community College. The course also includes guest lectures from other professionals with expertise in documentary filmmaking.

International Documenting Justice

The first semester (completed before travel) is completed in conjunction with the 12 students enrolled in the Alabama section of Documenting Justice. During the spring semester or summer term, students travel abroad, choose a film topic, become well-acquainted with their subjects, and capture footage. During the fall semester, students edit their films. Public screenings are also planned for this section.
Documenting Justice: Law A special year-long Documenting Justice course is open to law students. Law students also learn the fundamentals of video production and documentary approaches in the fall and shoot and edit their films in the spring. A separate Documenting Justice: Law screening will be held each year. The Documenting Justice: Law class is limited to eight students.


Documenting Justice is open to any student pursuing a bachelors or graduate degree in any department or graduate school at The University of Alabama. The course requires no prior experience in filmmaking or production. However, students applying for Documenting Justice International must complete either IHP 105: Honors Culture and Human Experience or CIP 200: Introduction to Global Studies before their travel.


Undergraduate (400-level) credit for the course is available through Telecommunication & Film, Anthropology, New College, and the Honor’s College. A 500-level credit is also available through Telecommunication & Film and Anthropology. Class size is limited to 18 students (12 in the UA Doc Justice course and six for International Doc Justice) and requires permission of the instructors.

How to apply

Interested students should acquire an application from and return it to the Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility on the first floor of Temple Tutwiler Hall. Feel free to use additional pages if necessary. The priority deadline for application is Wednesday, March 10, 2010, but early application is encouraged. As applications are received, students will be contacted to schedule an interview with instructors. If you have additional questions, please contact Heather Christensen at 348-6495 or