About the Center

The Center for Environmental Filmmaking was founded by Professor Chris Palmer on the conviction that films and new media are essential educational and policy tools in the struggle to protect the environment. The center's mission is to inspire students to produce films and new media that focus attention on the need to conserve the environment in a way that is effective as well as ethically sound, educationally powerful, and entertaining.

We and our partners produce films and other media projects for which students and faculty play important roles. Topics have ranged from the effects of tourism in the Galapagos Islands, to the impact of private development on forests, to the consequences of debris in the oceans. Many of these projects have received honors, including a Student Academy Award for best documentary, five Student Emmys, and several CINE Golden Eagles.

Our Mission

To inspire a new generation of filmmakers and media experts whose commitment to environmental stewardship drives them to produce creative work that is informative, ethically sound, entertaining-and makes a positive difference.

Our signature initiatives include:

  1. Creating partnerships with established organizations-Maryland Public Television, the National Park Service, The Humane Society of the United States, and others-that give students the opportunity to produce professional films.
  2. Bringing world-class filmmakers to American University to speak, teach, and mentor.
  3. Developing innovative, interdisciplinary, and experiential classes and programs.
  4. Promoting the ethical treatment of wildlife and the environment.
  5. Awarding student scholarships and fellowships.
  6. Supporting and mentoring environmental and wildlife filmmakers in a variety of other ways.
Read the 2017 Annual Report

Partnerships Around D.C.

As part of AU’s School of Communication (SOC), the center partners with SOC’s programs in journalism, public communication, film and media arts, and communication studies, drawing on the expertise of the accomplished filmmakers on SOC’s faculty to offer students exceptional professional training. We also collaborate with the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of International Service.

Located in Washington, DC, we belong to a broad and vital community that includes the Smithsonian Institution, the National Geographic Society, Discovery, Animal Planet, and PBS, as well as many nonprofit environmental organizations and government agencies, providing rich opportunities for our students. Each year we participate in the Realscreen Summit, Environmental Film Festival, and other major film festivals and conferences.

Thank You

The Center for Environmental Filmmaking's activities and programs are made possible by the generosity of the following individuals, foundations, corporations, and other organizations. The Center is honored to recognize them and to thank them for their support:

Wallace Genetic Foundation, Frances & Benjamin Benenson Foundation, Shared Earth Foundation, Park Foundation, Saint Paul Foundation, Turner Foundation, Prince Charitable Trusts, Herbert W. Hoover Foundation, Ramsay Merriam Fund, Henry Foundation, Mead Family Foundation, Norcross Wildlife Foundation, Ernst & Young Foundation, Merrill G & Emita E. Hastings Foundation, T. Rowe Price Associates Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy.

Special thanks to Joan Murray, Bill and Laurie Benenson, Caroline Gabel, Gil Ordway, Caroline Ramsay Merriam, Elysabeth Kleinhans, Elizabeth Ruml, Lucy Waletzky, Wool Henry, Angel Braestrup, Lacey Hoover, Colton Hoover Chase, Mark Butterworth, Betsy Mead, Diana Mead, Christelle Siohan, Sheila and Bill Wasserman, Amy Panek, Lisa Peterfreund, Todd Robinson, Carolynn Brunette, Kristin Pauly, Leonard Berman, John McMurray, Elizabeth Gray, Kay Summers, Whitney Hall, and other generous supporters.

If you would like to support the work of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking with a tax-deductible gift, we are very grateful to you. Your gift will help the Center nurture and train the next generation of environmental filmmakers and help protect the natural world and wildlife.

Please contact Chris Palmer at palmer@american.edu for more information.

Center for Environmental Filmmaking