Communication Studies Course Bridges the Gap with Local Latino Community

Posted on December 11th, 2010 by

Ramiro Alvarez, Sr. surveys the equipment shed on a farm near Plato, Minn.

Students in a Gustavus Adolphus College mid-level communication studies course are preparing to unveil three short documentary video projects aimed at bridging the gap of familiarity and understanding with the Latino community in the city of St. Peter.

The course is titled “Video Representation,” and is taught by Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Martin Lang ’95. Through the documentary project, students develop experience in video production as a tool for community-based research by partnering with members of the St. Peter Latino community. The videos will offer a glimpse into the everyday lives of several Latino families.

“This project represents the kind of valuable work that can happen when the campus community and the broader community work together to fulfill common goals,” Lang said. “While the general theory and methods of video production are determined by the course content, the specific design and goals of the video project have been determined primarily by our Latino community partners.”

Martin Lang '95

Lang also said that the project tested the potential for a classroom of non-Spanish speaking students to collaborate with the Spanish-speaking population of St. Peter. The project has relied extensively on the assistance of various partners, including the Community Service Center, the Department of Spanish, and La Union Latina, a local non-profit dedicated to community organizing.

“The language obstacle has been an enormous barrier to collaborations with the Latino community, but this experiment has proven that, with the right support from the community, such a collaboration is possible and rewarding,” he said.

Senior Seth Wisner is taking the class this semester and says the video project has been a rewarding experience.

“First and foremost, I learned the basics of video production, but this class also offered a unique and challenging opportunity to go out into the St. Peter community and form a relationship with someone I had never met before,” Wisner said. “I hope this project helped to develop a bond between the Gustavus community, the St. Peter community as well as the Latino community.”

Lang and students in the class will hold a public screening of the video documentaries at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 15 in Room 128 of Ogden P. Confer Hall. The screening is free and open to the public. For more information about this academic course or the screening event, contact Lang at or 507-933-6899.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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