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Academics: Film and Media Studies

A Christian perspective on film and media studies at Calvin

The Film and Media Studies major serves the rigor and vision of the mission of Calvin College. Taking serious the call to help students “be agents of renewal in the academy, church, and society,” the curriculum reflected below provides students instruction in history, theory, criticism, and production, all of which is aimed at equipping them for Christian life, specifically with regards to their understanding and use of film and media as communicative practice.

The mission of the Film and Media Studies major is to equip students to:

  1. Understand how religious and cultural perspectives, and the Reformed perspective in particular, can be applied to the study of  film and media.
  2. Demonstrate basic skills in the production of media.
  3. Demonstrate a broad knowledge of both classical and contemporary film and media theory.
  4. Demonstrate a broad knowledge of film and media in the United States and globally.
  5. Demonstrate proficiency in the writing of film and media criticism and analysis.
  6. Demonstrate proficiency in film and media historical and critical research.

Contextualizing all of these mission objectives are the three elements of Core Knowledge specified in An Engagement With God’s World: The Core Curriculum of Calvin College. Knowledge of God, the basis of Christian wisdom, is embedded in the curriculum of this major,  specifically in its calling to understand the manner in which film and media both affirm and challenge an understanding of the triune God. From its inception, cinema and other moving picture media, digital communication systems, and other media programming have laid claim on cultural and political imagination, social and cultural structures, and ideological and theological conceptions. As such, knowledge of God, specifically with regards to the Reformed themes of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration, should precede any advanced study of the cultural, social, political, and theological implications of the film and media arts.

The manner in which students are encouraged to envision film and media through the curriculum proposed here matches themes and concepts articulated in section 3.2 of the core curriculum document and An Expanded Statement of the Mission of Calvin College. As human beings created in the image of God, consumers and critics of film and media are by nature interpretive, engaging the art world in order to gain insight from representations of worldviews, lifestyles, and inspiration. That these three elements stem from God the Creator anchors the foundation of this major.

Finally, following lessons learned from a knowledge of God and the world, students majoring in Film and Media Studies will be given opportunities to focus on their knowledge of themselves, paying particular attention to how the history, theory, criticism, and production of the media arts enter their calling as followers of Jesus Christ. For example, being Christian film and media critics involves commitments to both Church and society, fueled by biblical teachings in stewardship, responsibility, humility, and service. Consequently, the student majoring in Film and Media Studies will be challenged to see herself as servant-critic, or servant- professor, etc., working towards the glory of God within multiple communities.

Calvin Colleges’ vision is: “Calvin College is a comprehensive liberal arts college in the Reformed tradition of historic Christianity. Through our learning, we seek to be agents of renewal in the academy, church, and society. We pledge fidelity to Jesus Christ, offering our hearts and lives to do God's work in God's world” (; “Along with the knowledge of God comes “an understanding of God’s world and critical inquiry into its problems and potential. We need to understand the structure and integrity of nature, discern the cultural and social forces that shape our world, and address the needs and issues of contemporary life.”

An Engagement With God’s World: The Core Curriculum of Calvin College, 3.2.5.

Ibid., 3.3.1.

Learn more

Read more about Calvin's approach to film in CAS Professor Bill Romanowski's book, Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture.

Eyes Wide Open, by William Romanowski