The Film & Education Research Academy (FERA) is a research, teaching, publishing, and outreach initiative within the Gottesman Libraries at Teachers College, Columbia University. Founded in 2004 by Kelvin Sealey and John Broughton, the idea of FERA is rooted in the early post-McLuhan efforts of Professor Lou Forsdale at TC, and blossomed under the proximal influence of TC prof. Peter Lucas in International Education.
The mission of FERA is to explore the relatively unexamined pedagogical nexus of cinema, teaching and learning. It is our belief that the psychological weight of cinematic content, the powerful visual vocabulary of the medium, and the peculiarity of cinematic aesthetics can become a powerful counterbalance to the scientizing and capitalizing tendencies of the mass media.
Cinematics can be said to be at the root of all modern (and postmodern) screen cultures, and even beyond the screen, in feeding visual culture in general. In this spirit we are also interested in engaging with the cinematic aspects of television, video, video games, comic books, computers, iPads, cell phones, and the illustrative arts. We are also aware of the way in which literature and theater have helped shape the cinematic venture. Since cinema welds the visual to the sonic, we are also concerned to reach out and embrace radio, music, iPods and other aspects of auditory culture, which has too long been segregated from visual culture.
Our overall aim is quite practical and pragmatic: to encourage educators, inside and outside the classroom, to reconsider the value of applying cinematic product and expertise to opportunities for advancing political awareness, global sensitivity, and critical consciousness, making cinema a vehicle of integrative learning rather than mere entertainment or escapism. As an interdisciplinary matrix and a catalyst for social justice, we believe that film offers unrecognized chances to impart socially concerned citizenship in the rapidly changing and problematic contemporary world that educators and their students now find themselves confronted with.
Please join us in our quest – the balcony is now open.