Lora Taub: Great Teachers, Great Courses

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For many students, the course in Documentary Research is their first foray into making media. But that doesn’t mean they start slowly.

“Students can make media here from day one,” says Dr. Lora Taub-Pervizpour, chair of Muhlenberg’s Department of Media & Communication. “We occupy a distinctive niche in that we’ve got all the technology and tools and resources of a major university environment, but we offer them in the intimate liberal arts environment of Muhlenberg.”

In the course, students learn the fundamentals of creating and editing digital media, skills that form a strong foundation for future internships and careers. But the objectives of the class go beyond technical expertise — students develop an awareness of their responsibilities as storytellers.

“We help them learn not just how to make media, but how to make socially engaged, ethical, and compelling media,” says Dr. Taub-Pervizpour. “It’s also about how to think, how to keep learning and how to use technology on behalf of stories that matter.”

Among the pieces produced by Documentary Research students taught by Dr. Ranieri and Dr. Taub-Pervizpour are over 60 three-minute documentaries on “Local Heroes,” a look at the lives and work of local citizens who are making a daily difference in the Lehigh Valley.

Most recently, students are exploring the meanings of "place" in the local community and producing a collective archive called The Storymapping Project.

Nick Minnich '10 produced a 30-second piece on The Roxy Theatre:

Kristin Lapos '11 created a 2-minute story on the Museum of Indian Culture:

 

At the conclusion of the class, students hold public screenings of the pieces, often with the subjects and their friends, families and co-workers in the audience.

“Part of making media is giving students an audience beyond their professor and their classmates,” says Taub-Pervizpour. “Documentary work is inherently about community.”

 

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