IMA Number: 771.00 | 3 credits

Course Type: Production

Professor: Kelly Anderson

This class meets Mondays 2:10pm-5pm in HN 544

Full Course Description:

The Fall 2016 semester will unfold against the backdrop of a highly contested New York City where issues of gentrification, displacement and land use policy continue to dominate residents’ concerns and spark activism. These concerns are particularly urgent in low-income communities and communities of color which have historically faced displacement. There will be a host of critical issues for students to engage with, including the controversial de Blasio housing plan, his proposal for “the next generation” of public housing, inclusionary zoning, the dueling city council bills claiming to protect small businesses, a proposed new waterfront rail line on the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront, and so on. This seminar, taught by Tom Angotti (Urban Affairs & Planning) and Kelly Anderson (IMA) will bring together graduate students from Urban Planning & IMA to explore the issues facing the city and ask how media and action research might be used to assist communities fighting to remain in the city and determine its future.

The class will be focused on the process of working with communities and not the completion of a media product. This will include open discussions of the contradictions relating to power, race, and gender and how information can be used to influence public policy. Together we will explore the benefits and challenges posed by collaborations between organizers, documentarians, professional planners and community-based organizations.

Questions we will explore include:

  • What are the forces underlying neighborhood change in the city?
  • What role can media and urban planning play in increasing understanding of complex policy issues like zoning, public housing or small business retention?
  • Can media and action research empower community members to speak and advocate for themselves?
  • How can media and planning foster dialogue across the divides of race, class and geography?
  • What are the power dynamics and ethical issues involved when documentary filmmakers make films “for” or “about” a community?
  • What problems and contradictions face urban planners who seek to be advocates for communities? What are the distinctions between advocacy planning and transformative planning?
  • What models exist for balancing out these dynamics, and making them more transparent?Is it possible to design a collaboration that benefits both the community and the filmmaker(s)? What might this look like? How can we evaluate the success or impact of our work?

We will spend time reading about and discussing the policy issues and how communities are responding to the pressures facing them. We will look at case studies of collaborative efforts between media makers and community advocates that deal with a variety of subjects. Within the first month, students will create project plans and set goals for the semester. The work may take the form of research projects, media projects, experiments involving media and social change, or a combination of the above. Goals for the semester will be based on the scope of the proposed projects.


Permissions: Cleared after advisement with IMA Program Coordinator.

Pre-requesite(s): Documentary I (Documentary Expressions) – 2 sections,

*Please note that in many cases all prerequisites listed aren't strictly necessary, please ask the IMA program assistant for clarification.