Lights, camera, education: UI JAMM professors work to revive film, television studies program


At the University of Idaho, film and television died many years ago – or, at least the film and television studies program did.

Years later, Broadcast Journalism Professors Russell Meeuf and Denise Bennett have taken the task of reviving the once dispelled film studies program. The two are working with faculty from the journalism, English and theatre departments to generate a new curriculum for a film studies degree.

If everything goes as planned, the degree will be available Fall 2017.

“The University already has a fantastic pool of faculty and existing coursework across several different departments,” Meeuf said. “This program will bring those courses and faculty together to better serve students with interests in film and television.”

Meeuf said that years ago, the university had a film and television studies program that was run by two faculty members. The two were married and when they retired, they retired together. During that time, the university was in the middle of budget cuts, so the program was cut. The remaining related courses were relegated to their respected departments.  

“We want to provide a detailed curriculum in film and television using the established film school model that blends history, culture and theory with hands-on production courses,” Meeuf said.

Meeuf said he and Bennett have done their research as to what the best possible model is for the new program.

They are now measuring student interest and reaching out to students who express interest or who are in similar fields of study in order to gain their opinions on potential curriculums.

Meeuf said he has held two student focus groups during the past month. These groups discussed curriculum, courses and learning outcomes, and measured the interest in diverse areas of film and television studies to help faculty figure out what type of emphases should be available.

“We want to create a program of study that prepares students for the wide range of jobs associated with film and television, teaching skills in practical video production as well as offering a critical understanding of history and culture that will allow students to become innovators,” Meeuf said.

Meeuf and Bennett said they want to create a program where graduates will move on to become leaders in their field of study and possess the ability to innovate and shake things up.

In the focus groups, students talked about having a strong focus on entrepreneurial-styled courses to allow students to work independently, Meeuf said.

“The program will be flexible, allowing students to pursue their own areas of interest, whether in film and television production or film and television criticism,” Meeuf said.

Meeuf said the program will also be well-balanced, utilizing the structures and capabilities of multiple departments to maximize the possibilities for students who express interest and choose to pursue the degree.

Kevin Douglas Neighbors  can be reached at

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