A Case for a Teaching Filmmaker-in-Residence

Visual communication is a powerful tool and an increasingly essential skill for all students, especially students of science. Clear communication leads to an informed public, which drives public policy and the formation of grass roots initiatives. It’s of vital importance to the advancement of our society that the knowledge of our leading science experts is being communicated accurately, efficiently, and often.

Despite this importance, most liberal arts colleges do not have a teaching filmmaker-in-residence available to it’s students; a filmmaker in a science department is unrivaled.

Faculty will benefit from a permanent filmmaker-in-residence by creating more visual research opportunities for their students. Employing visual elements could enhance a professor’s research as well.  The process of constructing, producing, and disseminating a video product is a research journey in itself that could transform the scientific research being performed.

Students stand to gain the most from having a filmmaker-in-residence on campus. They learn the tools of visual communication, they develop a stronger comprehension of visual literacy and ultimately they understand the basic knowledge of how to tell visual stories. Just as important, students learn the techniques to use media as a tool to build media campaigns around important environmental issues, and how to distribute their work to maximize audience levels. Fundraising, marketing, outreach, and distribution are necessary elements in communication and a way for videos to get beyond academic walls.

A teaching filmmaker-residence within the William and Mary community will encourage collaboration between (natural, physical and social) science, humanities, and the fine arts. New class opportunities and projects among departments will spark fresh ideas and possibilities.

The ENSP program at William and Mary stands out from its peers because it applies an interdisciplinary approach to environmental issues that prepares students for a broad range of careers. This position provides a great opportunity to teach a rising generation of students that successful environmental policy is dependent not only on good science but on effective communication of that science. By integrating filmmaking and visual communication into ENSP and the college, students and faculty now have the potential to expand the reach, relevance, and funding opportunities of the scientific work at W&M; a larger public audience awaits.