Sustainability Film and Discussion Series

Check back for future Sustainability Film and Discussion events.

Past Events

Cooked: Survival by Zipcode

Please join our programming featuring the 2018 documentary Cooked: Survival by Zipcode, directed by Judith Helfand. Cooked examines the 1995 Chicago heat wave in which 739 mostly black, elderly, and poor Chicago residents died during the course of one week.

Cooked is an excellent film for cross-disciplinary conversations and ideal for incorporating into classes addressing public health, racial justice, design and environmental health, and politics. The film is streaming for free on PBS.

Design & Environmental Health

October 7, 2020

Come hear Mark Pearson from COD and Trinity Pierce and Lindsay Darling from the Chicago Region Trees Initiative discuss urban design and environmental health

Racial Justice

Oct. 14, 2020

Come hear COD faculty member Tauya Forst, Kate Del Debbio, and Richard Forst discuss racial justice and Cooked.


Oct 21, 2020

Come hear COD faculty Missy Mouritsen and Maureen Heffern Ponicki, discuss the role of politics in the events of Cooked.

Health and Film Wrap Up

October 29, 2020

Join COD faculty Lori Klose and Film Producer Fennell Doremus discuss health, sociology, and details related to themes of the film.

One Earth Film Festival

The One Earth Film Festival will offer a six-film series with community online screenings and post-screening Zoom discussions led by experts and practitioners. College of DuPage has been a venue for this series over the last years. Two of the films in the mini-series, Wasted! and The Biggest Little Farm have been part of our series, so if you missed them the first time, here is another chance! A third film, The Human Element, had been planned as our April screening this year (listed below).

To see the full program and register for online screenings, visit

Saving the Dark

80% of the world’s population live under light polluted skies. What do we lose when we lose sight of the stars? Excessive and improper lighting robs us of our night skies, disrupts our sleep patterns and endangers nocturnal habitats. Saving the Dark explores the need to preserve night skies and ways to combat light pollution.

The Human Element

Renowned photographer James Balog (prominently featured in “Chasing Ice”) uses his camera to reveal how environmental change is affecting the lives of everyday Americans. Following the four classical elements—air, earth, fire and water—to frame his journey, Balog explores wildfires, hurricanes, sea level rise, coal mining, and the changes in the air we breathe. He takes it further by examining the effects of the fifth element—the human element—to tell an urgent story while giving inspiration for a more balanced relationship between humanity and nature.

Biggest Little Farm

Monday, Nov. 11, 2019

The Biggest Little Farm chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature.Through dogged perseverance and embracing the opportunity provided by nature's conflicts, the Chester’s unlock and uncover a biodiverse design for living that exists far beyond their farm, its seasons, and our wildest imagination.


Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019

The film follows the research of an international body of scientists, the Anthropocene Working Group who, after nearly 10 years of research, are arguing that the Holocene Epoch gave way to the Anthropocene Epoch in the mid-twentieth century, because of profound and lasting human changes to the Earth.  From concrete seawalls in China that now cover 60% of the mainland coast, to the biggest terrestrial machines ever built in Germany, to psychedelic potash mines in Russia’s Ural Mountains, to metal festivals in the closed city of Norilsk, to the devastated Great Barrier Reef in Australia and surreal lithium evaporation ponds in the Atacama desert, the filmmakers …document evidence and experience of human planetary domination.

The Superfood Chain

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Are so called superfoods really that great for you? How does the burgeoning global demand impact the indigenous cultures that grow the food and depend on it as a staple? This documentary investigates how the superfood industry affects the lives of farming families from Bolivia, Ethiopia, Philippines and Haida Gwaii. Part of the One Earth Film Festival.

Into the Okavango

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Okavango River Basin provides a vital source of water to about 1 million people, the world’s largest population of African elephants and significant populations of other animals. This film chronicles a team of explorers on their 1,500-mile expedition across three countries to save the river system that feeds the Okavango Delta, one of our planet’s last wetland wildernesses. Part of the One Earth Film Festival.

Plastic China

Monday, April 8, 2019

Laughter of children echoes through hills of plastic waste. A recycling plant is home to Pen and his daughter Yi Jie, desperate for an education; and boss Kun, determined to improve his family’s lot. One man moves closer to prosperity, while the other stagnates in poverty. This documentary exposes the lives of those on the fringes of global capitalist realities, a far cry from the communist dream.

Racing Extinction

Monday, April 22, 2019

Oscar-winner Louie Psihoyos (The Cove) assembles artists and activists intent on showing images that expose issues of endangered species and mass extinction. Whether infiltrating notorious black markets with guerrilla-style tactics or exploring scientific causes affecting changes to the environment, this film changes the way we see the world and our role within it.

Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas

Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018

Around the globe, there is a massive commercial rush for farmland—the new green gold. One of the most profitable new spots for farming is Ethiopia. Hoping for export revenues, the Ethiopian government leases millions of hectares of allegedly unused land to foreign investors. But the dream of prosperity has a dark side—the most massive forced evictions in modern history, lost livelihoods of small farmers, harsh repression and a vicious spiral of violence.

Keep Talking

Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018

Keep Talking follows four Alaska Native women fighting to save Kodiak Alutiiq, an endangered language now spoken by less than 40 remaining fluent Native Elders. Their small community travels to remote Afognak Island to start teaching kids Alutiiq. Sadie, 13, is inspired to begin learning the language and dances of her ancestors. Instead of getting swept up in the wake of historical trauma, these women overcome personal demons and build toward a brighter future.

Babushkas of Chernobyl

Monday, Sept. 24, 2018

In the radioactive dead zone surrounding Chernobyl’s Reactor No. 4, a defiant community of women scratches out an existence on some of the most toxic land on Earth. They share this hauntingly beautiful but lethal landscape with an assortment of interlopers—scientists, soldiers, and even ‘stalkers,’ young thrill-seekers pursuing post-apocalyptic, video game-inspired fantasies. This is a remarkable tale about the pull of home, the healing power of shaping one’s destiny and the subjective nature of risk.

Bee People

Monday, April 30, 2018

For 100 million years, bees have provided sustainability on Earth, yet these glorious pollinators are facing challenges and fading from our planet. Did you know the honeybee is responsible for one-third of the items on your dinner plate? Bee People provides an in-depth look at the people who are facing the challenge on behalf of the bees.

The True Cost

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

This is a story about clothing—the clothes we wear, the people who make them and the impact the industry is having on our world. The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider: Who really pays the price for our clothing?

After the Spill

Thursday, March 8, 2018

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the coast of Louisiana. Five years later the Deepwater Horizon spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the worst ecologic disaster in North American history. This film is part of the One Earth Film Festival and is co-sponsored by the Glen Ellyn Environmental Commission.

Wasted! The Story of Food Waste

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Wasted! aims to change the way people buy, cook, recycle and eat food. See how the world’s top chefs make the most of every kind of food, transforming scraps into dishes that create a more secure food system. It exposes the criminality of food waste and how it contributes to climate change. This film is part of the One Earth Film Festival.

Growing Cities: A Film about Urban Farming in America

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017

In their search for answers, filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette take a road trip and meet the men and women who are challenging the way this country grows and distributes its food, one vacant city lot, rooftop garden, and backyard chicken coop at a time. Join them as they discover that good food isn’t the only crop these urban visionaries are harvesting. They’re producing stronger and more vibrant communities, too.

Seed: The Untold Story

Monday, Oct. 23, 2017

Few things on Earth are as miraculous and vital as seeds, which have been worshipped and treasured since the dawn of humankind. This film follows passionate seed keepers protecting our 12,000-year-old food legacy. In the last century, 94 percent of our seed varieties have disappeared. As biotech chemical companies control the majority of our seeds, farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers fight a David and Goliath battle to defend the future of our food. In a harrowing and heartening story, these reluctant heroes rekindle a lost connection to our most treasured resource and revive a culture connected to seeds.

Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017

Thousands of miles away from civilization, Midway Atoll is in one of the most remote places on earth. And yet it’s become ground zero for The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, syphoning plastics from three distant continents. In this independent documentary film, journalist/filmmaker Angela Sun travels on a personal journey of discovery to uncover this mysterious phenomenon. Along the way she meets scientists, researchers, influencers and volunteers who shed light on the effects of our rabid plastic consumption and learns the problem is more insidious than we could have ever imagined.

Crying Earth Rise Up (2015)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

When Debra White Plume’s drinking water tests high for radiation, she sets out to determine the cause. What she finds exposes the human cost of uranium mining and its impact for the Pine Ridge Reservation and Great Plains drinking water. Sharon Karp, film editor for Crying Earth Rise Up will serve as discussion leader.

Death by Design (2016)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Consumers love—and live on—their smartphones, tablets and laptops. In an investigation that spans the globe, filmmaker Sue Williams investigates the underbelly of the electronics industry and reveals how even the smallest devices have deadly environmental and health costs.

Living Downstream (2013)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Based on the acclaimed book by ecologist and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber, this poetic film follows Steingraber during one pivotal year as she travels across North America, working to break the silence about cancer and its environmental links.

Erin Brockovich (2000)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

This feature film tells the story of Erin Brockovich, a young mother who convinces attorney Ed Masry to hire her and promptly stumbles upon a monumental law case against a giant corporation. Brockovich is determined to take on this powerful adversary even though no law firm had dared to do it before.

Cape Spin! An American Power Struggle (2013)

Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016

Cape Spin! tells the surreal, fascinating, tragicomic story of the battle over America’s first proposed offshore wind farm and most controversial clean energy project, Cape Wind. Strange alliances formed for and against: Kennedys, Kochs, and everyday folks battle with the developer and green groups over the future of American power. This films tells both sides of the story. With its revolutionary soundtrack Cape Spin! is “a gripping and entertaining study of eco-capitalism and grassroots democracy.”


Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016

Every energy resource—fossil, nuclear, renewable —is undergoing profound changes. The shift from coal and oil to the energies of tomorrow is underway. This transition is the subject of Switch. The film travels the world to discover how this switch is most likely to happen. Switch highlights a changing energy conversation—from polarized and unproductive to a focus on practical realities, encouraging a balanced understanding.