Film Studies Bridging Disciplines Program

STATEMENT OF OBJECTIVE: What is film? Why do we go to the movies? What is the function of film in society? The Bridging Disciplines Program (BDP) in Film Studies introduces students to film as a subject of critical analysis and scholarly inquiry. Through courses in foreign languages and literatures, English, Radio-Television-Film, History, Music, and other disciplines, students learn about how filmmakers tell stories, the relationship of film to other mass media, and how film functions in cultures and societies.

The Film Studies BDP teaches students how to look at film from a variety of perspectives: the role of film as an industry and art form; the development of film form and style; the relationship between entertainment and ideology; the contribution of film to definitions of gender, race, and nation; foreign films and the global film industry; and the dynamics of mainstream cinema, art film, and alternative filmmaking.

An interdisciplinary faculty panel guides students in selecting courses related to film studies, identifying internship opportunities, and getting involved in research.

BDP certificates combine courses that fulfill core requirements, electives, and a limited number of courses counting toward students’ majors with unique research and internships. With planning, the BDP should not add time to students’ UT careers. Rather, the BDP certificates are designed to help students choose the courses they already have to take in an integrated way, giving them the opportunity to develop a secondary area of specialization.

Our goal is to have the Film Studies BDP approved for recognition on students’ official transcripts. We would like to begin recognizing the Film Studies BDP on official transcripts for students who graduate in fall 2009. This change affects pages 21-22 of the 2008-10 Undergraduate Catalog.

NEED (EXPECTED DEMAND): The Film Studies BDP was formed in Fall 2007, and there are currently 10 active students in the Film Studies BDP. We expect that the program will continue to grow and could accommodate up to approximately 50 active students in any given year.

In order to earn a Certificate in the Film Studies Bridging Disciplines Program, students must fulfill the following requirements:

28. At least nineteen credit hours of course work, to be distributed as follows:
a. Foundation Courses: Four credit hours of foundation courses that introduce key concepts and methodologies related to interdisciplinary Film Studies. Students choose one course from each of the following categories:
i. Forum Seminar: BDP 101: Intro to Film Studies; or another course approved by the Film Studies faculty committee.
ii. Foundations Course: RTF 314: Development of the Motion Picture; or another course approved by the Film Studies faculty committee.
b. Connecting Experiences: Three to six credit hours of undergraduate research or internships that connect students’ Film Studies BDP to their major field. Connecting Experiences are designed to be individualized based on the student’s interests and goals, and a variety of course numbers offered through the BDPs (BDP 310, 311, 320, 321) and in departments across the University may be used. All students must write a 3-5 page essay reflecting on the experience, in addition to the academic requirements specified by the faculty member supervising the student and assigning a grade. Examples of past Connecting Experiences completed by Film Studies students include research focusing on Mexican cinema and research on the development of the motion picture.
c. Courses in a Strand: Nine to twelve credit hours of courses in a strand that allow students to focus their remaining BDP course work. Students are encouraged to choose strand courses from at least two of the following categories: Film History; Film Form and Style; Film and Other Media; and National and Transnational Cinemas. The attached curriculum sheet for Film Studies lists the currently approved courses for each strand. The faculty committee for Film Studies approves new courses that may count toward the certificate each semester, and the committee may also approve student petitions to count unlisted courses on a case-by-case basis.
29. A 3-4 page integration essay in which students reflect on what they have learned and accomplished through their BDP experience. These essays will be reviewed by members of the BDP faculty panel.
30. Students must earn a grade of C or above in each of the courses taken to fulfill BDP requirements. All but one of the courses taken to fulfill BDP requirements must be taken on the letter-grade basis.
31. At least half of the required course work in the BDP certificate must be completed in residence at The University of Texas at Austin.
32. Completion of the requirements of a major.

Charles Ramírez Berg (Committee Chair), Professor, Department of Radio-Television-Film
Douglas Biow, Professor, Department of French and Italian
James Buhler, Associate Professor, School of Music
Héctor Dominguez-Ruvalcaba, Assistant Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Karl Galinsky, Professor, Department of Classics
Sabine Hake, Professor, Department of Germanic Studies
Hans-Bernhard Moeller, Associate Professor, Department of Germanic Studies
Joan Neuberger, Professor, Department of History
David Neumeyer, Professor, School of Music
Nancy Schiesari, Professor, Department of Radio-Television-Film
Janet Staiger, Professor, Department of Radio-Television-Film
Lynn Wilkinson, Associate Professor, Department of Germanic Studies
Leo Zonn, Chair and Professor, Department of Geography

The purpose of a student transcript is to serve as a comprehensive record of a student’s academic progress and achievement at the University. Students pursuing BDP certificate programs at UT Austin complete 19 credit hours related to secondary areas of specialization without receiving recognition for this work on their official transcripts. Recognizing the Film Studies BDP on students’ official transcripts will represent a more comprehensive picture of these students' academic achievement at UT Austin.

It is in the interests of our students to list BDP certificates on official transcripts, particularly as they apply for jobs and for graduate and professional programs. In most cases, students pursue BDP certificates in order to develop a secondary area of specialization that enhances their major and gives them an additional professional qualification. For example, a student pursuing a certificate in Film Studies through the Bridging Disciplines Program might wish to complement a an English degree with a certificate that demonstrates more specific knowledge of film theory and criticism. By recognizing this program on transcripts, we will help these students convey more effectively the full picture of what they learned and accomplished at UT.

Recognizing BDP certificate programs is also in the interest of the University, not only as a means of supporting students as they apply for jobs and graduate/professional school programs, but also as a means of recruiting new students and advising current students. From a recruitment perspective, the ability to combine a major with a certificate might prove attractive to prospective students, particularly those with interests in areas where UT does not yet offer a major. From an advising perspective, the option of combining a certificate with a major might help persuade students to choose majors more rationally, especially in cases where students have been rejected from their first-choice college or feel compelled to select multiple majors.


Approver: Paul B. Woodruff
Date: December 16, 2008
Title: Dean, School of Undergraduate Studies