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Documentary Policy was a course taught by Karen Price that focused on the potential impact that documentary films can have on our society and on policy. The course explored several documentaries and how they have impacted our world and effected public policy. The course emphasizes strategic methods for production and documentary effectiveness. As a final project we have to create our own film idea and pitch it at a mock film festival.



I took Documentary Policy because I found it to be the perfect intersection between my Public Policy Major and I&E certificate. Further, I find it incredibly interesting how impactful art can be on changing society and policy. With my pathway of Social Innovation and Policy, Documentary Policy helped demonstrate an innovative way to create a social impact. I was able to learn about the optimal strategies within a unique and artistic way to create real change.


I learned about the viral effect. We learned why and how some films can go viral and create massive impact on people’s lives. Sometimes the viral effect has to do with timeliness, sometimes with controversial content, and sometimes with sheer beauty. The different ways documentaries can go viral are very intriguing. It is further interesting to investigate why some fail to create a real footprint. A successful documentary that has a high enough viral coefficient can change our world. I also learned about several interesting policy issues that have been demonstrated in famous documentaries. I learned about sexual assaults in the military and on college campuses, the issues of global warming and animal poaching, suicide prevention, and about historical documentaries impacting policy.