Netflix Documentaries to Educate and Inspire You This Summer

Posted by Rebecca Denyer on June 27, 2017

Student Life

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Ah, summer! Whether you’re working, taking summer classes or traveling abroad, Netflix is bound to be your go-to buddy throughout the warmer months. Although the summer is a great time to sit back and recharge after a long year of classes, it’s also important to continue learning, and that can be done outside the classroom too. Why not combine relaxation with education and watch some top-quality Netflix documentaries? Here’s a list of my six favourite documentaries which are available on Netflix Canada!


Miss Representation documentary cover image.

Miss Representation (2011)

This documentary, perfect for Communications Studies, Digital Media or Gender and Women’s Studies majors, focuses on the intersection of gender and media through an analysis of how “the media is the message and the messenger” (McCluhan, 1964) is connected to sexism within the media. Miss Representation focuses on how the media shapes sexuality, beauty, leadership and youth within the framework of a gendered society

13th documentary cover image.

13th (2016)

The Netflix documentary 13th critiques the American prison system and the connection between the 13th Amendment, mass incarceration, the class divide and anti-black racism. This Netflix original will interest students in Political Science or Human Rights and Equity Studies.

Citizen Four documentary cover image.

Citizen Four (2014)

CitizenFour tells the story of Edward Snowden, a former analyst for the American National Security Agency (NSA), who leaked highly classified American documents in 2013. Filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald take the audience along as they travel to meet Snowden in Hong Kong and record his unfolding story. This documentary is often shown in Communications Studies classes but is also beneficial for Information Technology majors.

Requiem for the American Dream documentary cover image.

Requiem for the American Dream (2015)

If you major in any of the social sciences, there’s no doubt that you’ve studied Noam Chomsky at some point in your schooling. As a linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist, Chomsky specializes in libertarian social activism and emphasizes the class divide and capital power. This documentary examines Chomsky’s main theories and looks at the intersection between power and wealth. Requiem for the American Dream focuses on topics which would be of interest to students in Global Political Studies, Political Science and Psychology!

Blackfish documentary cover image.

Blackfish (2013)

This award winning documentary takes a critical look at the multi-billion dollar sea-park industry and tells the story of the killer whale Tilikum, who was responsible for the death of three of his trainers while in captivity. Blackfish looks at mammal psychosis and other effects of captivity that have become a topic of concern among animal rights activists. This popular documentary is ideal for students studying Environmental Studies or Human Rights and Equity Studies.

Get Me Roger Stone documentary cover image.

Get Me Roger Stone (2017)

Get Me Roger Stone is a new documentary created by Netflix which deconstructs the American presidential election and looks at how one individual, Roger Stone, and his role in conservative politics since the 1980’s. The documentary includes interviews from prominent scholars and political figures who examine how the rhetoric in conservative politics has continued to shape the way in which media coverage, personality politics and corporate capital are closely connected to government. Get Me Roger Stone is an educational documentary for Political Science and History students.

Which documentaries are some of your favourites? Be sure to tweet us at @YorkUStudents or leave your recommendations in the comments below!

Rebecca Denyer
Rebecca Denyer

Rebecca Denyer is a fourth year Political Science and Communications Studies double-major at York University. She lives on coffee and Broadway soundtracks and is often found strolling the aisles of second-hand bookstores.

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