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48 good films for a well-rounded education


Published December 12, 2013

“This is what college is all about: being exposed to new ideas, learning to think critically and develop new perspectives.”
Hadar Borden, administrative director
Undergraduate Academies

Students interested in discovering ideas outside their academic discipline are now encouraged to start with “V for Vendetta,” “March of the Penguins” or one of the 46 other films in the 48 Good Films program.

The program was created by the Undergraduate Academies and the UB Libraries as a way of embodying the mission and spirit of the university’s five Undergraduate Academies, which focus on the themes of civic engagement, entrepreneurship, global perspectives, research exploration and sustainability.

“This is what college is all about: being exposed to new ideas, learning to think critically and develop new perspectives,” says Hadar Borden, administrative director of the Undergraduate Academies.

To that end, the list features new works like “The Social Network,” classics like “12 Angry Men” and thought-provoking documentaries like “Food, Inc.,” which highlights health and safety standards overlooked by multinational corporations and governments in an attempt to provide cheap, plentiful food.

The full list of films and a synopsis of each can be found on the 48 Good Films website.

For students, the 48 Good Films project is a fun and interesting way to become engaged in library resources and enhance their understanding of the world outside the traditional classroom setting, according to Lori Widzinski, head of multimedia collections and services for the UB Libraries.

Librarians and members of the Academies Council, which sets goals for the five academies, nominated each film in the program, citing them as being personally important to the nominator and to the community. The resulting list includes 48 dramas, documentaries, thrillers, animations and foreign films, among them “Gandhi,” “Pleasantville and “Wall-E,” all favorites of Widzinski.

The selection committee maintains a student could complete the list by viewing one film a month over the course of four years for a diverse education that would inspire inquiry, pleasure and renewed engagement with civic life.

Each of the films, which are arranged by theme and number of votes, can be borrowed for 10 days from the Libraries’ Multimedia Collection, located on the first floor of the Silverman Library in Capen Hall, North Campus.

Widzinski says the films are in high demand, not only by students, but by faculty for classroom use and support.

The 48 Good Films project is successful because it’s pertinent to students, who regularly engage in digital media, says Danielle Vegas, assistant administrative director of the academies. She believes that while many students find it difficult to read another book in addition to daily readings for a semester’s courses, the list of thoughtful films serves as a more comfortable and less time-consuming source of self-improvement.

The 48 Good Films project is a sequel to the 48 Good Books program that began in 2011. Vegas says a “good albums” list also is in the works, inspired by Donald McGuire, adjunct associate professor in the Department of Classics.