The GW Film Studies Program was founded in 1998 when CCAS Dean Lester Lefton appointed a blue-ribbon committee. Its members – Kerric Harvey, Alf Hiltebeitel, Bernard Mergen, Nina Seavey, Jean-Francois Thibault, and Peter Rollberg as Chair – studied film programs of comparable size and developed a curriculum which includes four core courses and a number of electives from various departments. The Film Studies Minor was approved by the faculty of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences in 2000.
In 2001, the GW first film minors began to take classes in Film Theory (FILM 151), Film Genres (FILM 152), and History of World Cinema (FILM 153-54). These courses were taught by Dr. Ranjan Chhibber who soon became one of the most popular teachers at GW. The number of Film Studies minors grew exponentially, and Dr. Chhibber’s courses were always filled to the cap.
Departments such as East Asian Languages and Literatures and Romance, German, and Slavic Languages and Literatures began to offer more film courses and coordinated their efforts with the Film Studies Committee. In addition to Profs. Harvey, Hiltebeitel, Mergen, Seavey, and Thibault, Prof. Yvonne Captain (RGSLL), Harvey Feigenbaum (Political Science), and Roy Guenther (Music) joined the Film Studies Committee.
In its first year, the Film Studies Program was housed by the Women’s Studies Program, in 2002-04 by the Honors Program, and starting in 2004, by the Department of Romance, German, and Slavic Languages and Literatures. New courses such as Arab Film and Culture (CLAS 105, Dr. Mohssen Esseesy), Israeli Culture Through Film (CLAS 105, Dr. Yaron Peleg), and Japanese Culture Through Film (Dr. Ichiro Hanami) demonstrate a high level of methodological awareness and provide both historical and aesthetic approaches to national cinema that meet national standards for teaching film.
In 2004, Dr. Chhibber left GW to pursue a career as a screenwriter. Prof. Jay Lorenz of Georgetown University took over as the principal film expert who teaches the core courses. In 2009, the core courses were taught by Professors Michael Shull and David Wilt.
Beginning in Fall 2010, Film Studies moved to the Department of Political Science, under the directorship of Prof. Harvey Feigenbaum.