Grant Funds New Faith, Film Studies Class

February 15, 2013

Ouachita professors have been putting their time, efforts and creativity to the test this year as they applied for educational grants that will benefit their students and everyone involved.

Not everyone who applied for a grant received one. Out of 17 applicants only, were accepted.

One of the grants was awarded to Rebecca Jones, assistant professor of communications, and Dr. Doug Sonheim, chair of the department of English and modern foreign languages and Clarence and Bennie Sue Anthony Professor of Bible and Humanities. With this grant, they plan on creating a class that dives in to the idea of integration between Christianity and the secular film world.

Before the start of the class, students will have the opportunity to join Jones and Sonheim in attending the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah along with the Windrider Forum which coincides with the festival.

“I can’t wait to take students to Sundance,” said Jones. “We’ll go to the film festival for the first time in January of 2014 and then the class will take place throughout that spring semester.”

A majority of the hours spent for the class will take place during that first week when students are at Sundance and participating in Windrider. So, the class will not meet as many times a week as a traditional 3 hour course would.

The Windrider forum is put on by the Priddy Brothers Production Company, alongside the Fuller Theological Seminary. They host a workshop during the Sundance Festival that revolves around the concept of integrating faith into film and our culture. Windrider uses the power that film has over people’s emotions and our society at large, and challenges students at many levels to let their faith interact with our culture through this medium.

Jones and Sonheim desire for students to look at film in a new light.

Although this program will be a first for Ouachita next spring, Jones has had firsthand experience with the Sundance and Windrider events. She was able to attend as a student as well, two years ago as a part of a doctoral course on the rhetoric of independent film. She said that her visit was “nothing short of transformational”.

“I’m delighted and so grateful to have been selected for a Strategic Initiative Grant that will be used to help build a course that will allow students to experience the Sundance Film Festival,” Jones said. “I can hardly wait to begin interacting with students as we explore the themes of next year’s Sundance selections and their impact on culture and faith.”

Some of the benefits students receive by participating in the course is the opportunity to watch some of the best films of the independent film industry and the experience of meeting and communicating with many people who have found success in the film industry and then discussing the role Christianity has in that world.

“I hope that the students who participate in the class will feel equally challenged and blessed by the experience as I was,” Jones said.

For more information on the class, you can contact Jones at or Sonheim at An informational meeting will be held this semester. Students will receive an email with more details later.

The other grants received were awarded to Dr. Lori Hensley, for 3-D instructional technology, Dr. Rob Hewell for a Worship Studies seminar series, Dr. Terry Dewitt and Dr. Mike Reynolds for research on concussion testing and Dr. Craig Hamiltion, Dr. Scott Holsclaw and Dr. Gary Gerber for new music technology for music ed. Students will recieve an email with more details on the class later.

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