Small Town USA: Local Collaborations


man and son working outside

See past projects at

A student project from 2018:

About the Instructor:

Susie Post-Rust is a veteran magazine and newspaper photojournalist who spent more than two decades documenting the lives of people in more than twenty countries. Her passion throughout her career has been in-depth documentary projects that reveal small communities and the people who live in them. For more than ten years she worked for National Geographic magazine, while also contributing to LifeU.S. News & World ReportNewsweek, and the New York Times, as well as nonprofit charity groups, including World Vision, the North Carolina Food Bank, Food for the Hungry, and Compassion International. In 1986 she was honored with the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for Coverage of the Disadvantaged in recognition of her photographic essay Jerry: A Troubled Mind, the story of one man’s battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Post-Rust has taught at Duke since 2006. Her courses enable Duke Students to engage with the community outside university. She works to impart the experience of producing in-depth visual storytelling to her students. Most of her courses are service learning and involve a component of giving back to the community.

She has an MA in journalism from the University of Missouri at Columbia and a BSBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Post-Rust's work can be viewed at

About the course

Theory and practice of documentary photography in a small-town context. Students working in collaboration with one nearby small town complete a documentary photographic study of one individual or group within that town. Includes analysis of the documentary tradition, particularly as it relates to locally situated work and to selected individual projects; building visual narrative, developing honest relationships with subjects, responsibility to subjects and their communities, and engaging with and portraying a community as an outsider. Photo elicitation and editing techniques. Consent of instructor required. Required participation in service-learning. Instructor: Post-Rust


Cross-Listed as
VMS 224S

Enroll Consent

Instructor Consent Required

Curriculum Codes
  • CCI
  • R
  • ALP
Cross-Listed As
  • ARTSVIS 232S
  • PUBPOL 389S
  • VMS 224S
Typically Offered
Spring Only