Beyond “Feeling Blessed”: Using International Documentary Film to Foster Global Awareness in an Online College Course

Denise Blum, Jon L. Smythe


As US colleges and universities incorporate an international requirement for undergraduate students, this study assesses the value of an online international documentary course. The effect of documentary viewing was evaluated using students’ reflective essays, noting possible shifts in perspectives on international issues after film viewing. Findings show that students gained new knowledge, displayed empathy, felt “blessed” for their privileges, and were inspired to help others. Findings also reflected an ignorance about inequitable power relationships between the United States and other countries, producing an “othering” effect. Recommendations are provided for engaging students in more critical research and reflection about local-global connections.  



global awareness, documentary film; online learning, international education, higher education

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2021 International Journal of Multicultural Education