ince its devastating civil wars between 1989 and 2003,
This spring, Doug Osman, clinical assistant professor
in the BLSC, traveled with Connaughton to Liberia to help
film the group’s work. This footage is being made into a
documentary on Liberia and depicts efforts by the Purdue
Peace Project to assist in a home-grown peace.
Osman has also worked as an independent
documentary and film maker, with some of his work
screened at media and film festivals around the world.
He serves as advisor to Fast Track, a student-produced
half-hour weekly news magazine at Purdue, and through a
community engagement grant, has recently been working
with students on a series of nature documentaries that will
be screened at local schools and shared at the Lilly Nature
Center in West Lafayette.
“The difference between narrative and documentary
film making is that in narrative films, you walk in with
a script and know exactly what you are shooting. In
documentary work, you sometimes have to go in with an
idea and do a lot of shooting, and your idea changes as you
In both the celery bogs of West Lafayette and the
farmlands of Liberia, students are learning these principles
in order to develop their ability to communicate through
“The nature documentaries give me an opportunity to
show students documentary filmmaking in a much more
controlled situation,” says Osman. “But for the student who
went with us to Liberia, we didn’t know what to expect.”
That student was Kris Jones (BA 2014, BLSC). Jones
was the only undergraduate to travel with the Purdue Peace
Project to Liberia and he has played a central role in filming
and helping to complete the Liberia documentary.
“One of the missions of the Brian Lamb School of
Communication is engagement,” says Osman. “It’s great to
learn out of textbooks, but unless you are really stepping
into the lesson, you aren’t learning everything that
Jones hopes to work in documentary filmmaking
one day, and this experience is a vital part of his Purdue
education—both instructionally and culturally.
“The majority of my experience prior to working with the
Purdue Peace Project was a few of Professor Osman’s classes,
including the documentary film course and Fast Track,
which I helped produce,” says Jones. “When he asked me to
go with him to film the Peace Project, I thought it was a great
opportunity, but didn’t really know what to expect. My time
in Africa was unforgettable. I’ll never be able to thank the
people of Liberia or the Purdue Peace Project for opening my
The Purdue Peace Project is assisting with multiple locally-driven projects in Liberia.
In one, a group of motorcycle taxi (or pen-pen) drivers from Monrovia, who originally
organized to promote driver safety (pictured top and bottom), are mobilizing again to
educate other taxi drivers and customers about the spread and prevention of Ebola
during the outbreak in West Africa. Also pictured (center) is communication student
Kris Jones, who traveled to Liberia this summer to help film a documentary about the
Purdue Peace Project. Photos courtesy of Stacey Connaughton and Doug Osman.