Elon launches new Global Film & Cultures minor

The new interdisciplinary minor is a collaborative offering from the Department of English and the Department of Cinema & Television Arts.

A photo of film reels laying on top of one another with Global Film & Studies headline on top of it.Elon University’s newest interdisciplinary minor, Global Film & Cultures, began for the best of reasons – robust student interest.

“Students have consistently expressed a desire for the interdisciplinary study of film,” said Craig Morehead, a lecturer in the Department of English and one of the faculty members who helped create the newly approved minor. “So, from the beginning, we’ve designed the minor to connect the many disciplines film studies engages to explore film’s multifaceted roles across global cultures.”

A composite of four faculty members involved in the new minor.
The new Global Film & Cultures Minor was a collaborative effort between faculty members in the Department of English and the Department of Cinema & Television Arts. The main contributors included Assistant Professor Dan Burns (top left, then clockwise), Assistant Professor Kai Swanson, Lecturer Craig Morehead and Lecturer Lina Kuhn.

The Global Film & Cultures Minor is the result of a successful collaboration between Morehead, his department colleagues, Assistant Professor Dan Burns and Lecturer Lina Kuhn, and Assistant Professor Kai Swanson in the Department of Cinema & Television Arts.

It is designed to investigate the cultural influence of film and media from regional and global perspectives. And the minor’s faculty collaborators take pride in its interdisciplinary nature, which makes space for students across the university, regardless of their major, to participate.

“The minor is crafted to deepen the understanding of how film shapes and reflects societal narratives,” Swanson said. “This understanding is fundamental for students who will navigate a world where film extends beyond mere entertainment.”

The minor focuses on three essential areas: history, industries, and theory/interpretation. Beginning with GFC 2100 Introduction to Global Film & Cultures, students explore these key areas of film studies, providing a foundation for further specialized studies through elective courses and a culminating capstone project.

The minor is not just an addition to our academic offerings; it’s a declaration of our commitment to global awareness, critical media literacy, and intercultural competence.

– Lecturer Lina Kuhn

Establishing a minor coupling the School of Communications and Elon College, the College of Arts & Sciences grew from the significant number of cinema & television arts majors who have enrolled in film-themed literature courses in recent years.

“This ‘bridge’ was really built in the initial stages by our communications students, who nurtured a deep interdisciplinary rapport between the School of Communications and the College long after our classes together concluded – whether in word-of-mouth endorsements to other majors or by maintaining friendships with us through frequent invitations to their events and screenings,” Burns said.

After researching film studies offerings at Elon’s peer institutions, with aid from a CATL Teaching and Learning Grant in 2018, Morehead and Burns contacted Naeemah Clark, then chair of the Department of Cinema & Television Arts, with a rough outline of their proposal. At Clark’s recommendation, the two professors connected with Swanson, an independent filmmaker and producer with several international film festivals on her CV. Lastly, Kuhn brought a crucial comparatist’s perspective to the initiative as a frequent instructor of German literature and film courses for the Department of World Languages & Cultures.

Swanson said the minor is a testament to Elon’s pursuit of interdisciplinary learning and to strengthen Elon’s film culture, integrating with various existing film series and coursework offerings. Additionally, the program is rooted in the university’s commitment to creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive academic spaces.

“The creation of the interdisciplinary Global Film & Cultures Minor is a significant achievement for our department and the university,” said Lecturer Staci Saltz, chair of the Department of Cinema & Television Arts. “It reflects our commitment to providing a comprehensive and dynamic education in film studies, perfectly aligning with the evolving needs and interests of our students in understanding the global impact of film and media.”

The minor, co-coordinated by Burns and Swanson, is open to all academic majors, especially students interested in participating in a transformative educational experience where film is not only studied but lived as a global social practice.

“Congratulations to the faculty members involved in designing this innovative academic offering,” said School of Communications Dean Kenn Gaither, following the minor’s approval in November. “Their unwavering work ethic, leadership and collaborative ideas have taken a germ of an idea and brought it to fruition. Seeing your collaborative efforts is a reminder of how we can create and nurture great ideas across academic disciplines. This is a great leap forward for the school and for our colleagues in the Department of English.”

This is the second time an interdisciplinary minor was established by the School of Communications this year. This fall the school formally welcomed its Health Communications Minor, which examines interpersonal and public health communication, and the resulting influence on health beliefs and behaviors.