Documentary Storymaking Minor 

Documentary Storymaking is a multi-campus, multidisciplinary program that provides students an opportunity to integrate documentary making into their undergraduate studies.  The study of documentary histories, theories, and practices is a way for students with diverse academic interests to develop digital literacies that complement the research and writing skills they are developing in their majors.  It is designed to provide a foundation in the theory, ethics, and practice of documentary storymaking.  Courses in the minor provide students hands-on experience in documentary storymaking methods, tools and practices that will develop their capacity to communicate to broad audiences.  While it develops students’ individual capacities for creative and artistic expression, it is also deeply community-based and therefore connects students’ learning to the issues, concerns, and stories of broader community life within the Lehigh Valley.

   Go the the Official Documentary Storymaking Website.


Documentary Storymaking Program Requirements

A minimum of five courses are required, including a sequence of three CORE COURSES and a minimum of two electives, one of which must be a media production course.   Courses applied to the minor can also count towards the fulfillment of major requirements.


CORE COURSES (to be taken in sequential order):

DOC 150 Introduction to Documentary Storymaking

DOC 250 Legal and Ethical Questions in Documentary Practice

DOC 370 Capstone in Documentary Storymaking


DOC 150 is normally taken in the sophomore year and offered every Fall semester.  It must be completed before enrolling in DOC 250, offered each spring semester.  DOC 370, the Capstone, is normally taken in the Spring semester of the senior year.

Prerequisites: Doc 150, Doc 250, and the elective(s) in the specific production skills (e.g. film/video, photography, audio recording/editing, hypermedia authoring) necessary for the capstone project they wish to develop.



Students must complete a minimum of two electives, one of which must be a course that emphasizes documentary production in any media type.  In selecting their elective courses, students can choose from a list of courses provided and updated each semester by the LVAIC Documentary Storymaking Governing Committee.  The list of electives is representative of the interdisciplinary basis of documentary, spanning film and media, communication, journalism, American studies, history, English, art, and philosophy, elective courses are drawn from these programs and departments.  Currently, elective course options are drawn from a number of programs and departments at the founding campuses, Lafayette, Lehigh, and Muhlenberg.  Faculty members of the program’s Governing Committee will maintain, publicize and distribute to all minors information on the current availability of courses fulfilling minor elective requirements, including via the program website.

Many of the upper level elective courses that count towards the minor carry prerequisites and students will work closely with a minor program advisor on their home campus to plan their schedules accordingly. Courses taken to fulfill institutional requirements may also be used to meet minor program requirements when appropriate and according to rules of the home campus (rules for double counting vary across LVAIC institutions).  


Course Descriptions

DOC 150: Introduction to Documentary Storymaking

This course is an introduction to digital documentary storymaking. It merges the critical study of documentary media with the hands-on construction of documentary stories. Working with tools of the documentary arts—video, still images, audio, writing—students will acquire the foundational skills of media production and effective storytelling while absorbing and analyzing rich examples of documentary storytelling over time and place.  The course provides a survey of traditions and issues in documentary media and an introduction to documentary practices and methods. Students will study representative works from a variety of documentary approaches and learn to analyze the techniques of observation and representation at use in these pieces. Finally, students will become familiar with major theoretical constructions of documentary and be able to use these analytical tools to critique both historical and emergent documentary forms.  Students will complete several small documentary projects to be gathered in an e-portfolio to be further developed in the capstone.

DOC 250: Legal and Ethical Questions in Documentary Practice

Through the lens of documentary filmmaking, this course explores the legal and ethical issues associated with documenting people, places, events, and situations. In so doing, we will consider how documentary films construct and represent truth, the nature of documentarians’ relationships with, and ethical obligations towards, their subjects, and how these questions inform other documentary practices. Topics discussed will include the impact of copyright law on documentary practice and best practices in fair use for documentary filmmakers.  The course seeks to encourage students’ understanding and awareness of the ethical and political implications of documentary filmmaking and to see their own documentary practice as engaging in these concerns.

DOC 370: Capstone in Documentary Storymaking

This course challenges students to synthesize their course of study across the Documentary Storymaking Minor and solidify their learning in a collaborative community-based documentary project. The course is required in order to complete the Documentary Storymaking Minor. The Capstone is a workshop-based experience that guides students through the design, planning, field research, production, and completion of a substantial documentary media project that results in a public presentation of their most advanced work.  Production will be informed and enhanced by class discussion of selected readings, screenings, relevant theories and practices in documentary.  The course is offered once a year, typically in the spring semester, and is open to Documentary Studies minors and other advanced students by permission of instructor.