Lifelong Learning logo

UCSB Summer Program for Environmental Media
June 23 - August 22, 2014

blue horizons photo logoBLUE HORIZONS students explore how to communicate vital stories about the ocean through media.

During this 9-week summer program, students learn elements that are essential to producing documentary films – from developing a film’s core idea and story, to thinking about its impact on its audiences, to the nuts-and-bolts of video production itself. Then, after examining the critical issues of our region’s oceans and seashores, students develop their own stories and produce their own short documentaries. The films premiere at the end of the Blue Horizons program in UCSB’s new Pollock Theater.

In this media-focused world, audiences are bombarded with messages, and are left to try to make sense of an overwhelming amount of information. How can our messages actually cut through the clutter to help motivate new awareness, new behaviors? Which strategies lead to a more effective use of media? Today’s students need a sophisticated sense of how media works and what it does, to become better communicators themselves.

The Blue Horizons summer program brings together students interested in digital media production and environmental studies to learn about important issues of the global ocean from a local, California perspective. A coordinated series of interdisciplinary courses and related activities, Blue Horizons introduces students to scriptwriting; media portrayals of the environment; the biological, socio-economic, and political aspects of marine conservation; and the latest innovations in environmental filmmaking.

Students will gain the skills necessary to communicate effectively with their peers, scientists, policymakers, and the general public by producing short, compelling videos (see Student Success Story below). Issues such as marine protected areas, sustainable fishing, watershed ecosystems, beach erosion, aquaculture, and others will be closely studied, providing a foundation for the research necessary to produce an informative film. Techniques of digital video camera operations, sound gathering, lighting, and editing with industry standard Final Cut Pro will also be covered.

To learn more about the program, explore the department's BLUE HORIZONS website.

This 4-course summer program is open to undergraduate and graduate students in all disciplines. Questions can be addressed to Natalie Fawcett at fawcett at To apply, fill out the BLUE HORIZONS Application .

Required Courses

Session A (June 23 - August 1)

  • FLMST 182 –Introduction to Environmental Media (4 units) – Richard Hutton
    Schedule: T/TH 11:00am - 1:20pm in the Pollock Theater
    This course ties the acquisition of critical viewing skills for film to the practice of conceiving and writing short environmental documentaries. Students screen narrative films and documentaries, deconstruct them, and use their new proficiency to write their own documentary treatments. A required Camera Workshop is scheduled for Saturday, June 28, 2014.
  • FLMST 109EM - Introduction to Environmental Media Production (4 units) - Michael Hanrahan
    Schedule: M/W 11:00am - 1:50pm in SSMS 2303
    This course is designed to give students the core skills needed to conceptualize, capture, edit, and deliver short-form documentaries with an environmental theme. Basic aspects of cinematography, lighting, sound and editing are covered.

Session D (June 23 - July 11)

  • EEMB 94 - Issues in Marine Conservation (2 units) - LeeAnne French
    Schedule: T/TH 3:30pm - 6:15pm
    This course surveys the major threats currently facing California marine ecosystems and many proposed approaches for mitigating threats and sustainably managing ecosystems. Case studies will be used to highlight the biological, socio-economic, and political aspects of marine conservation. This course will be compressed into the first three weeks of the session so that Blue Horizons students will be able to select the topic of their environmental film from a range of local ocean related issues.

Session F: (August 4 - 22)

  • FLMST 109EP - Advanced Environmental Media Production (4 units) - Michael Hanrahan
    Schedule: M/W 1:00pm - 3:50pm
    This course will have students in the field autonomously producing a short-form digital documentary. Emphasis will be on development of creative style and storytelling. To be taken immediately following FLM ST 109EM. Student's documentaries will premiere in the state-of-the-art Pollock Theater on the last day of the session.