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Multimedia: Lewis & Clark launches documentary studies certificate program

March 09, 2011

  • Joanne Mulcahy, assistant professor and coordinator of the documentary studies certificate

With its new certificate in documentary studies, the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark invites students, educators, counselors, and community members to document untold stories and explore new ways of understanding culture.

“The program is based on the notion that to step outside of yourself and look at what is around you leads to a new way of seeing the world,” said Joanne Mulcahy, assistant professor and coordinator of the documentary studies certificate. “We encourage work that crosses cultural boundaries and creates collaborative partnerships to expand understanding.”

Through the eight-course sequence, participants learn to become writers and documentarians. The program offers coursework in documentary methods that include writing, photography, digital stories, film, and audio recording to support cultural inquiry, ethnography, and creative expression. Workshops help individuals and communities navigate ethical concerns that come with telling community stories and explore issues of race, class, ethnicity, gender, and social justice.

In this video, Mulcahy explains why it’s an exciting time to document stories, and currently enrolled students Jessica Grindell and Golda Dwass talk about their experiences with the program thus far.

After taking several classes, Dwass began writing about her mother’s early demise due to Alzheimer’s disease.

“I had never done any writing before, but my mother’s story was very compelling to me,” Dwass said. “The documentary studies workshops helped me with the decisions I needed to make to tell this personal story in a public way.”

To create her video, titled “The Disappearance of Mom,” Dwass assembled a narrative using old family photos and video footage.

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