Documentary Engagement: Exploring the Complexities of Homelessness

For the second year, students in Alex Harris and Elena Rue’s Documentary Engagement course, co-sponsored by Hart Leadership and the Center for Documentary Studies, shared the stories of individuals at Housing for New Hope, an organization that supports Durham’s homeless.  From the course’s website:


“Over the course of both semesters, students were introduced to and began working with their subjects:  building a relationship– through sharing a meal, attending an event, serving at Urban Ministries, visiting with extended family and friends, doing outreach in the woods and under bridges, and talking a lot. These pieces reflect the relationship  trust, mutual respect, and friendships that grew out of the assignment for this class.


As a final project, each student produced a five to eight minute audio slideshow rendering the story of one person they met through HNH. Collectively, the ten stories featured here on this website illustrate the complex factors contributing to homelessness today, as well as reveal the programs and supports that enable people in crisis to move towards lives marked by increased levels of stability, dignity, hope and independence.”


Junior Raasti Said, who also participated in HLP’s Service Opportunities in Leadership program, produced this piece:



Click here to view all the students’ projects.  Liisa Ogburn will teach Documentary Engagement (PPS 396S.01 – formerly PPS 168) this upcoming fall, which will focus on public health.