Video Resources

Editor's Note: The material below is primarily from the Instructor Manual for Dalton, Elias & Wandersman (2007), Community psychology: Linking individuals and communities (2nd ed.), but has been adapted for use with any community-related course with any text. We encourage you to upload additional suggestions for videos, DVDs or related resources.

Introducing Community Psychology

Surviving the Good Times 

(120 minutes)

An excellent introduction to how ecological levels of analysis are intertwined. This Bill Moyers Report, aired in 2000, follows two Milwaukee families, one White, one Black, for 8 years of struggling to replace income lost when family breadwinners were laid off from well-paying blue-collar jobs. Illustrates how macrosystem forces, issues of social justice and family and individual coping are related. Specific topics to highlight include economic stressors (both short-term and chronic), their effect on marital and family functioning, youth development in the context of family and neighborhood stressors and strengths/resources, gender and race, and religious and spiritual resources and their limits. Because the show consists of periodic visits to the families, you could shorten the running time by skipping some visits. Available to watch free on Vimeo:

Exemplars of Community Psychology

 (3 hours, 35minutes total)

(The best use of this video in class is showing short excerpts from selected interviews.) 

Excerpts from an archive of interviews with 21 community psychologists and other scholars, conducted as conversations in James Kelly's graduate community psychology class. Pioneers of the field, including Seymour Sarason, George Albee, George Fairweather, Emory Cowen, Don Klein, Ira Iscoe, Rudolf Moos, Murray Levine and others answer students' questions about the origins of the field, their lives and work, and what energized and constrained them. They discuss personal experiences and conflicts, revealing emotions in their faces and voices that do not appear in published works. Marie Jahoda describes her work on defining positive mental health, and a feminist panel discusses the context of feminism and its relationship to community psychology. James Kelly provides an introduction to each interview that sketches the social context and major impacts of each person's work. Produced by James Kelly. DVD available from SCRA Administrative Staff (

An excerpt from the series is shown below and the complete video can be found on Vimeo here:

The following videos illustrate mid-20th-century contexts for the emergence of community psychology in the U.S.

  • The GI Bill: The Law That Changed America (60 minutes) Illustrates the power of social legislation for social change and the uncertainties of the legislative process. This groundbreaking legislation, which altered U.S. society and higher education, almost failed to be enacted. Available from:
  • The Homefront (110 minutes) Documents the everyday effects of the Second World War on U.S. civilians, and of racism and sexism on the lives of women and African-Americans seeking jobs. SVE/ Churchill Media
  • Freedom on My Mind (110 minutes) Powerful presentation of the role of ordinary citizens in the civil rights movement through 1964.  Clarity Films 
  • A Time For Justice (38 minutes) Part of America’s Civil Rights Movement, a teaching kit for high school classes but adaptable to college. The video is a useful overview of the civil rights. Available at: movement.
  • Eyes on the Prize (12 hours) It’s too long for showing in its entirety in class, but this PBS series documented 30 years of the civil rights movement, and excerpts offer a focus on specific topics that shorter videos cannot. Suggested by James Emshoff. Due to be re-released in Fall 2006, with a study guide by Facing History and Ourselves: PBS Video 

Feature Length Films

Some instructors in community psychology courses begin or complement their course by having students watch and discuss a feature-length film, whether fictional or a documentary. You may stage a “movie night” for the class to watch together, or just assign students to rent the video and discuss the film on scheduled day in class, or have them write brief papers on it. If chosen well, the film can provide memorable illustrations for community concepts that you can use throughout the course. Many films can be springboards for a discussion of the core values and topics of community psychology.

Your own sense of your students is the best guide. Consider what films, scenes or images may be uncomfortable for some students, especially those with more conservative lifestyles. Offer an alternative learning experience to students who do not wish to view a film. Even if you have seen a film previously, review it again before using it for class, trying to see it through the eyes of a reluctant student in your university context. While discussing a film, listen carefully to students’ views. As works of art, films can elicit divergent yet valid responses from viewers.

Website Teaching Resources on US Historical and Social Issues

The websites here offer information and resources, including videos and related materials, on historical and social forces relevant to community and social issues, human diversity, and social justice.

  • Facing History and OurselvesThis website offers curriculum materials, study guides for use with videos, and other resources for teaching that links historical events with engagement in today’s communities, about topics relating to community and social change, liberation, and social justice. Includes links to related websites such as

  • Includes educational activities and resources on issues of human diversity and social justice, for use with students and adults, including links to other online resources.
  • National Resource Center on Domestic ViolenceThis database provides information on videos concerning domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other topics. Click on Resources/NRCDV Video List to access information on video content and where to purchase. NRCDV does not sell these videos, but provides information on how to contact distributors. Its database can be searched by title of video or by content area.

Many videos offer vivid portrayals of historical forces and social issues relevant to community psychology. Browse for one that fits your purposes at online book and video stores, or at these sources for many videos originally broadcast on PBS:

Human Diversity

Videos are an excellent way to broaden students’ experience beyond their own culture and to illustrate oppression and acculturation issues. However, they require discussion that bridges between the events and viewpoints on camera and students’ preconceptions and experiences. In addition, not all videos on diversity issues identify community resources and strengths. Your own viewing of television and film documentaries can lead you to other useful resources that can be used in whole or in part in class. Our list also includes a website with teaching resources and an article with practical tips on teaching about diversity issues.

  • Skin Deep: College Students Confront Racism (53 minutes)
  • What’s Race Got To Do With It? (55 minutes). In Skin Deep (1995), a multiracial group of college men and women discuss issues of race on campus and in their lives. What’s Race (forthcoming, 2006) is a sequel that follows a diverse group of students in a 16-week inter-group dialogue on race and related issues, and frames the issues with background information on the issues. Either video can be used alone. California Newsreel
  • Race: The Power of an Illusion (3 episodes, 56 minutes each). A three-part series that uses scientific research to challenge biological conceptions of race, traces the history of “racial” concepts in science and psychology, and (in the third episode) delineates the political, economic and cultural uses of racial ideas to bolster white privilege. Episodes can be purchased individually or together. California Newsreel
  • True Colors (18 minutes). An ABC News report depicting actual incidents of racial discrimination in U.S. daily life. A White man and a Black man go shopping in a mall and for cars, and look for jobs and apartments. Discriminatory treatment against the African American is documented, with data on trends across U.S. society and commentary by consultants. Although this 1991 episode seems dated to some students, it portrays clear instances of discrimination in multiple contexts, links with current research (e.g., Pager, 2003, Am. J of Sociology ), and generates discussion. Employee University (click on Workplace Discrimination)
  • Blue Eyed (varied running times). This popular training tool comes in several versions, all based on the original 1968 teaching exercise conducted by Jane Elliot with third-graders that created and analyzed prejudice based on eye color. Video versions also include more recent exercises with adults, and can be ordered in varying lengths for class use. Employee University. A 93-minute version of Blue Eyed with Jane Elliot is also available from California Newsreel

Videos on Native American Women

Carol Yakish recommended the following videos on women in cultural, particularly Native American, context. All are available from Women Make Movies, which also has many other videos on women’s and diversity issues.

  • Honoring Our Voices (33 minutes) Six Native American women describe the importance of Native cultural traditions in their recovery from family violence.
  • Song Journey (57 minutes) A Navaho filmmaker’s portrait of Native American women musicians.
  • Wind Grass Song: The Voice of Our Grandmothers (20 minutes)
  • Oral histories of senior Oklahoma women: Black, Native American and White....And Women Wove It in a Basket... (70 minutes) Documentary of a Klickitat woman and basket weaving in her life and culture.
  • It Starts With a Whisper (28 minutes) A young Native woman faces choices of acculturation and loyalty to her culture.
  • Strangers and Kin (58 minutes) This video traces the history of the hillbilly stereotype through film, network news, literature, interviews, and humor. It illustrates issues of multiple levels of oppression and of acculturation of Appalachians in U.S. society. Appalshop Films

Social Class and Poverty

  • Stranger With a Camera (60 minutes) If your students can appreciate the analogy that community research (especially qualitative research) resembles documentary film-making, this video will raise difficult and complex issues about documenting/researching low-income communities. Set in eastern Kentucky and narrated by an area native, it probes an incident in which a local man killed a prominent filmmaker who was making a documentary of poverty in Appalachia. The film crew had obtained permission for filming from renters of low-income housing, and it was their landlord who shot the filmmaker. Interviews reveal the diversity of local opinion about film/TV portrayals of Appalachian poverty, and realities of economic power and injustice. Issues relevant to community research include its relation to or challenging of injustice, under what conditions filming (or research) exploits communities, and whether community strengths are portrayed.Appalshop Films
  • Living in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods is Bad for Your Health VIDEO EXCERPT, "Unnatural Causes," Episode 5. Why is your street address such a good predictor of your health? Increasingly, Southeast Asian immigrants like Gwai Boonkeut are moving into neglected neighborhoods where African Americans have long suffered, and now their health is being eroded, too. What can be done to create a neighborhood that promotes rather than destroys health?

Community and Social Action

  • The Rural Studio (56 minutes). Architect Samuel Mockbee founded the Rural Studio, where Auburn University architecture students plan and build structures for low-income clients in rural Hale County, Alabama. The Rural Studio donates services and materials; students learn about designing and building low-cost structures in partnership with low-income families and communities. These low-cost houses and community buildings often use recycled materials. Clients meet with students to make plans jointly. The Rural Studio website describes its goal as being “to refine the student’s social conscience and to learn first-hand the necessary social, cultural and technological concepts of designing and building”, through “sharing the sweat” with clients. This video documents the process and some of the structures, including interviews with residents, students and architects. There are some downsides not mentioned in the video: not all students or professionals communicate well across boundaries of race and class, and not all clients are satisfied; these process problems resemble the challenges to participatory community research. This video emphasizes the positive, and can open discussion of possibilities of building spaces for community and family life. Order video from:   Rural Studio website
  • Ways We Live: Exploring Community (10 videos, 26 minutes each). A series on new forms of community and community-building in Canada and the U.S. Videos on physical spaces and community design, inclusion of persons with disabilities and aging persons, intentional communities, ethnic diversity and sense of community, and other topics. Episodes can be ordered separately or as a unit. (Suggested by Karen Shue.) Bullfrog Films
  • Cultivating Change (50 minutes). A tour of garden projects illustrates how growing and cooking food can reconnect people with the sources of their sustenance and foster personal, community and social change. Bullfrog Films
  • Not in Our Town, Not in Our Town II, Not in Our Town Northern Califor (60 minutes each). These three documentaries cover community responses to hate incidents (e.g., racist, anti-Semitic, and heterosexist) in towns and cities across the U.S. The first documents incidents in Billings, MT, and the community’s responses. The second returns to Billings and covers incidents in other communities as Not in Our Town became a national campaign. Not in Our Town Northern California (2005) focuses on communities in that region. All show effective responses to hate incidents, and illustrate harnessing sense of community to promote social justice. Each video can be used alone. Not in Our Town II and Not in Our Town Northern California visit several communities, so you can show only some to shorten the running time. Each video can be purchased with study guides. Videos and other materials are available from The Working Group. Additional community stories and information can be found at:
  • Buffalo Creek Revisited (31 minutes).A follow-up, ten years later, of survivors of a devastating flood in an West Virginia village caused by collapse of a dam owned by a coal-mining corporation. Frankly portrays long-term effects of the disaster, the importance of sense of community, how villagers’ efforts to rebuild their community were opposed by coal companies and government, and the importance of local community control. Because the constraints on citizen action were strong, this video is not as upbeat as the Not in Our Town series. Appalshop Films. 
  • The Democratic Promise: Saul Alinsky and His Legacy (57 minutes). A documentary tracing the history and continuing influence of Alinsky’s vision and tactics for empowering disenfranchised communities. Profiles community organizations and campaigns led by Alinsky and today’s groups that exemplify his legacy. (Suggesed by Reid Sondrup.Berkeley Media
  • Saul Alinsky Went to War (57 minutes)
  • Encounter with Saul Alinsky: Part 1: CYC Toronto (29 minutes)
  • Encounter with Saul Alinsky: Part 2: Rama Indian Reserve (32 minutes)
  • Deciding to Organize (34 minutes)

These videos, produced in the 1960s yet still classics, document the processes of Alinsky’s work.

Gloria Levin, who was trained as a community organizer at Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation, suggested one of these, but also added these comments: “When I used [Saul Alinsky Went to War], I found that students got carried away with his charisma and boldness and swagger, at first ignoring the ethical implications of the words and tactics he espoused. Women students would eventually feel a little uneasy because of his macho style. Then as discussion proceeded, students began focusing on issues such as whether the ends justified the means.”

Useful discussion thus can focus not only on the short-term success of the conflict strategies that Alinsky used, but also on the ethical and longer-term consequences of these methods, in the face of great differences in power and resources available to disenfranchised communities and powerful opponents.

National Film Board of Canada

Recommended Websites

  • This webpage has several multimedia resources available that document the community organization and social justice work of PICO, and written resources by community psychologist Paul Speer.
  • The Ford Foundation sponsored Grantcraft website ( has many resources for community organizing. You’ll find print and film resources on organizing in general as well as materials on some of the major branches of organizing in the United States: congregation- or faith-based, education, immigration, and youth organizing.


  • An Ounce of Prevention (60 minutes). Presents four examples of prevention/promotion programs, for young children, early adolescents, adults, and the elderly. It includes an overview of prevention objectives, footage of programs in action, interviews with participants and program developers, and highlights of empirically-demonstrated outcomes. Can be shown in segments of about 15 minutes each to focus on one prevention/promotion program and developmental level at a time. Annenberg Media
  • Emotional Intelligence (29 minutes). This video presents extensive classroom footage from schools in Highland Park, New Jersey, and New Haven, Connecticut, to document school-based programs that promote development of emotional literacy and psychosocial competence. Cooperative learning activities, role plays, teacher-led discussion, and other techniques illustrate methods of enabling children to learn about self awareness, managing feelings, goal-setting, problem-solving, empathy and interpersonal skills. Community psychologist Maurice Elias, psychologist Daniel Goleman, and several teachers and parents explain the importance of these skills and educational approaches. The video illustrates primary prevention, promotion of competence and wellness, school-based (especially classroom-based) programs, and implementing prevention/promotion within the everyday curriculum and culture of the school. Films for the Humanities and Sciences
  • Preventing School Violence (29 minutes). Presents programs that have been demonstrated to reduce school violence (one is the Highland Park program in Emotional Intelligence just described). Interviews with psychologists Daniel Goleman and James Garbarino focus on improving the school environment, promoting social-emotional competencies and identifying risk factors for extreme violence. Films for the Humanities and Sciences

Recommended Website

Downloadable Video Lists and Discussion Guides