Elizabeth Coffman

Elizabeth Coffman is a documentary filmmaker and film scholar. She's published work in Camera Obscura, Journal of Film & Video and other places. Her film work has been broadcast and screened at festivals in Europe and the U.S. Elizabeth maintains messy homes in Chicago and in Tampa, where her two children live with their father during the week, and stay with her on the weekends. Elizabeth and her filmmaking partner have a media production company -- Long Distance Productions.

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Most Recent Articles

June 20, 2012
I am in California on an academic “vacation,” which means, as any college professor knows, that I am taking a few extra days to enjoy the area where I am attending a conference.  Next week I will attend a workshop in San Diego sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) for “Sustainability Across the Curriculum.”
May 23, 2012
Over the years I have blogged about my son Nick and his dilemmas in school, which began when he was “kicked out” of a Montessori program at age three for behavior that the director described as “autistic.” We rushed to a doctor for an assessment, but Nick's autism tests were largely negative. We removed Nick from Montessori and enrolled him in a more structured public school program.
May 9, 2012
I jumped on a plane recently to try and assist my son Nick with changing his “F’s” to “D’s” or “C’s” on his high school report card in order to graduate in June.  His father and I realize that our last ditch efforts to discipline may be ‘too little too late’ for our son, but Nick understands that he cannot move out of his Dad’s house (or into my empty one) until he gets a GED.  I let Nick know that some of the readers of this column are interested in hearing from him about his high school burnout, and he may, in fact, write a response to my maternal blogging (after we get through the next three weeks.)  
April 25, 2012
As the school year winds to an end, many parents of high school seniors are making final decisions with their budding college freshman about where to attend college. Not so in my family. We are waiting with bated breath to see if my son Nick actually graduates. He’s developed an extensive case of high school burnout, and if it were not for the talents of his AP history teacher, Adam Gadnis, and Nick's ability to take some classes online, I don’t know if my son would be walking down the aisle and throwing up a cap in June.
April 4, 2012
Since I have been traveling to film festivals and accompanying students on spring break trips, I have not seen my teenagers for almost three weeks — a situation that makes my eyes start to twitch after a while. I need to communicate to my kids (and to myself) a justification for this lengthy separation from them.
March 21, 2012
If you pay attention to YouTube or the media, then you are aware of Kony 2012.  If you’ve been on a college campus that contains any sense of activism in the last few years, then you have probably heard of “Invisible Children” or their “National Sleepout” event.  Students at my university consistently sleep outside on the quad in order to commemorate the living conditions, abuses and relative danger of the lives of central African child soldiers.  If a university wants to teach history, global politics and civic engagement, then what better way to do so but by including a student-driven non-profit’s advocacy events?
March 8, 2012
Universities are developing more strategies for students and faculty to engage with each other and communities outside of traditional educational settings. Right now I am traveling with students from my university “down the bayou” in Dulac, Louisiana, introducing them to the environmental story of disappearing wetlands and an estuary in crisis. The trip is part of an alternative spring break option — a competitive program at my university where students choose between either national or international trips that take them to communities with critical issues such as poverty, housing or the environment. 
February 23, 2012
My partner, Ted Hardin, and I will be in New Orleans on Thursday for the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) meeting on general education and assessment.  (We’re just missing Mardi Gras, darn it!)  We are helping to deliver the keynote speech with biologist James P. Collins on “Learning and Discovery in an Era of Change.”  We’ll be focusing on environmental issues and how interdisciplinary practices affect new forms of teaching and student learning. 
February 8, 2012
Geez. What a week it’s been for women’s health rights. The Susan B. Komen Foundation flip-flopped after the online outrage for defunding Planned Parenthood. (Over a million Planned Parenthood Tweets!) Now the Obama administration appears to be hedging on a decision to require all health plans, including Catholic universities and hospitals, to cover contraception.
January 25, 2012
I was shocked this weekend after calling car insurance companies to add my 16 year-old daughter, Katie, to my plan. Nick, my 18 year-old, is already covered, but apparently — due to some fortunate confusion by an agent — I was paying the Illinois rate (the state in which I work), not the Florida rate where my second car and teenagers are located.

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