Summer Practicum


This year's topic is Rural Film Lab: Documenting Local Life.

Every summer, Rural Humanities offers a 6-week practicum seminar in Public Rural Humanities with a focal theme and a discussion of methods for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. 

The Rural Humanities Summer practicum seeks to bring qualitative humanities research methods to projects focusing on and/or collaborating with our rural neighbors in Central and Western New York. Examples of public-facing humanities projects and/or products that we invite for consideration include:

  • community-based blogging, digital storytelling, comics;
  • presentations, exhibitions, demonstrations;
  • videos, documentaries, vlogs;
  • community-coordinated case studies, teaching materials, pamphlets.

The Rural Humanities Summer Practicum guides and supports graduate students and advanced undergraduates in deepening locally-based public and engaged humanities projects that they have begun or are adequately prepared to undertake during this intensive 6-week program.

Participants in the Summer Practicum will each be awarded a grant of up to $8,000 to support their participation in the practicum and development of their projects. Up to $6,000 of this grant is designated for participant living expenses. Accepted participants should not accept other summer funding to support their living expenses. Up to $2,000 of this grant is available to support participant project expenses. Project budgets will be developed in collaboration with Summer Practicum instructors.

Rural Film Lab: Documenting Local Life

still from short documentary In the Hollow
still from short documentary "In the Hollow" photo by Claudia Brenner

Topic for Summer 2024 : Rural Film Lab: Documenting Local Life
Application Deadline: Monday, April 15
Program Dates: May 29 - July 3, Wednesdays, 2-4pm
Attendance at all six sessions is mandatory.

Instructor: Austin Bunn, Associate Professor, Department of Performing and Media Arts; Director, Milstein Program in Technology & Humanity

In this six-week summer filmmaking lab, students will work in teams and individually to research, produce, and edit short documentaries about the Central and Western New York region. Students will engage with the lives, experiences, and histories of local subjects and communities to foster mutual respect and cross-cultural understanding of rural, upstate issues (aging, queer rural life, environmental change, agricultural innovation, etc.). 

Students will be provided a camera (Canon XA40), audio recording equipment, and a license to Adobe Premiere. The practicum meets as a group once a week on Wednesdays. The first class will meet at A.D. White House on Wednesday, May 29, from 2-4 PM.

Application Guidelines

Applications for the Summer 2024 Practicum are open. Current Cornell undergraduate and graduate students in good standing (including those who are graduating in Spring 2024) are eligible to apply. Attendance at all six sessions is mandatory. Please submit the following materials to by the deadline of April 15.

  1. Cover page, including the applicant's name, NetID, degree program and field of study, and proposed project title
  2. A two-page project description that should detail how you plan to engage with the topic of "Rural Film Lab: Documenting Local Life," including:
    • the project's goals and the preparatory work and planning that have already gone into the project
    • a description of anticipated deliverables by the end of the Practicum (a rough assembly of collected footage, several filmed interviews, completed short film, etc). It is understood that some projects may require more time than the six week Practicum to complete. 
    • a timeline for the entire project, including ideas for distribution/release (film festivals, online)
  3. If already working with a particular community partner or local subject, a letter of support from them (only if applicable)
  4. A faculty letter of recommendation is required and should be sent under separate cover by the faculty member directly to


Questions may be directed to