Courses

Graduate students may concentrate their studies in environmental and wildlife filmmaking through the Center for Environmental Filmmaking. Some courses are entry-level graduate courses, others advanced specialized graduate courses, and still others are electives. Please consult with the executive director, Maggie Burnette Stogner, or the associate directors about the concentration, and also consult with the director of the Film and Media Arts program, Larry Engel. You should map your course plan for each semester in careful consultation with faculty advisors and Center directors.

Required Courses: 
For Film and Media Arts graduate students in the Environmental
Filmmaking concentration, there are two required courses. Ideally, Comm-
524 is taken prior to Comm-568, but may be taken concurrently.   


Comm-524 Producing the Documentary
Comm-568 Environmental & Wildlife Production for Public TV

  
In other Film and Media Arts courses, students may often work on
environmental and wildlife subject matter in their assignments and on final
projects with the approval of the teacher.

Required Courses

This class is subtitled "The Art of Producing" because virtually everything you learn in the class is relevant and helpful to whatever film-related career you are thinking of entering. In fact, some students take it who aren't even going into filmmaking because of what they get out of the class. 

The class examines the goals, strategies, and tactics necessary to produce films or new media. 

Students research issues, create stories, find characters, pitch ideas, develop proposals, write treatments, identify audiences, sell films, and work with nonprofits. You'll learn about ethics, citizen activism, and raising money. You'll learn what it takes to become a successful producer and hear first-hand about the ins and outs of the industry. Guest speakers come from organizations like Discovery and National Geographic. 

There are no prerequisites, except a passion to learn, make a difference and succeed. Open to juniors, seniors, and grad students and is offered every semester. 

Please email Professor Maggie Stogner to learn more about the class or if you would like to receive a copy of the syllabus. 

Would you like to get a PBS credit on your resume? Then consider taking a fascinating class called Environmental Filmmaking for Public TV. 

This class has a special relationship with a major PBS station, Maryland Public Television (MPT). The class produces a half-hour program which is broadcast on MPT at prime time. 

Graduate students in film and video and journalism are invited to register for COMM-568-001. Prerequisites may be waived with permission of the school or the instructor if you have professional or academic experience in production or broadcast journalism. Undergraduates who meet the prerequisites are also invited to register. 

If you have any questions about your qualifications for the class, please contact Professor Maggie Stogner.  

Interdisciplinary Electives

To encourage scientific, environmental, and biological underpinnings of the
field, the department has reached out to faculty in other disciplines across
campus, who have agreed to accommodate our graduate students in their
courses. Please consult your advisor.

  • BIO-340: Marine Biology
  • BIO-342: Marine Mammals
  • ENVS-3/5XX:Science and Policy of Biodiversity
  • ENVS-3/5XX: Science Policy of Sustainability

Electives

Classroom in the Wild is an elective course that takes place over Spring
break and during summer months. It is typically one week long and
provides a rich field experience with scientists, park rangers, and wildlife
and environmental specialists. Check with CEF director Maggie Burnette
Stogner, stogner@american.edu for more information.

Media have long shaped how environments are encountered and understood—from cinematic experiences to journalistic accounts to new digital technologies such as sensors, AI, and VR. Simultaneously, media systems have been embedded within harmful, exploitative, and wasteful practices such as mining, pollution, emissions, and e-waste. In this course, we will think and work through these knots of media and environments. Centering environmental justice, we will examine how environments are represented, experienced, analyzed, and acted upon through media. Keeping the environmental impacts of infrastructures and devices in mind, we will imagine hopeful alternatives.

This course provides an experiential learning experience with different branches of the National Park Service (NPS). Students add to their portfolios by working with NPS staff to create designated short video projects on subjects including science history, wildlife, ecosystems, new discoveries, and more. Students combine skillsets that include research, producing, directing, camera and lighting, audio capture and sound design, editing, motion graphics, and writing narration. All production expenses are covered; students receive a stipend upon completion of the project. NPS may choose to make the videos available to the public on their website and in visitor centers.