Student Projects

AlterNative Education

This documentary-style video-in-progress is part of AlterNative Education, which is led by ten Columbia undergraduates. The video documents four students as they examine reservation drop-out rates in the classroom, later developing alternative curricula to increase retention and creating peer-to-peer education opportunities between Columbia students and students in three New Mexico reservations.

Media Working Group

The Media Working Group is composed of eleven graduate students whose academic research may be portrayed using film, sound an/or performance, among other media. This year, the working group has organized workshops with guest speakers and two “Creative Cabarets, in which students and professors share their works in film, poetry, literature, sound or performance. An innovative and interdisciplinary collaboration among academic units and Butler Library, the Media Working Group is funded by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. For more information go to Media Working Group

Below is a list of the working groups’ events:

May 2014 (date TBD)
Cabaret 2: The Subterranean

This cabaret will explore the concept of the subterranean. Held under the earth’s surface, and building on the idea of a specific form of underground dwelling, this event will invite professors and students to create in situ works addressing the question of “the subterranean. Tunnels, underground waters, digging, mines, “underground movements” are only a few of many themes which can be explored creatively through sound, film, photography or writing. A call for projects will be sent out, and the Media Working Group will use its resources to develop projects to show during this event.

What is Justice? Film Series

Organized by graduate student, Elif Alp, in collaboration with the Criminal Justice Initiative and the Center for the Study of Law and Culture at Columbia University, What is Justice? is a two-semester long film series that will explore issues of incarceration via screenings and post-screening discussions of documentaries and feature films.

This series has a twofold purpose. The first is to use films in order to bring incarceration issues and their impact on our society to the attention of our students, faculty and community members. Secondly, the series aims to provide attendees with the opportunity to engage in dialogue and critical thinking on the definition of justice in the criminal justice system.


Six films will be shown in spring and fall 2014. Each session will include a screening and a brief panel discussion with two discussants, who may include filmmakers, scholars, advocates, artists, graduate and undergraduate students, and/or former incarcerated individuals. Each post-screening discussion will be followed by a Q&A session.

Films to be screened include:

Herman’s House;  2012, Directed by Angad Bhalla

Central Park 5;  2013, Directed by Ken Burns, David McMahon and Sarah Burns

Free Angela; 2013, Directed by Shola Lynch

Fruitvale Station;  2013, Directed by Ryan Coogler

What I Want My Words To Do To You; 2003, Directed by Judith Katz

The Visitors; 2009, Directed by Melis Birder

CSER continues to be Columbia's main interdisciplinary space for the study of ethnicity and race and their implications for thinking about culture, power, hierarchy, social identities, and political communities. The Center also offers a wide range of public programming, including Artist at the Center, Indigenous Forum, and Latino Public Speaker Series and the Transnational Asian/American Speaker Series. CSER's most recent spaces include the Media and Idea Lab and Gallery at the Center, a space dedicated to curating artistic and thematic exhibits around the Center’s key areas of interest.
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