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Barbara Harrington, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Media & Visual Arts757.352.4561

Barbara Harrington, Ph.D.


Originally from Portsmouth, Rhode Island, Barbara is a screenwriter, producer, columnist, and radio host, and has her PhD in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, UK. Barbara is the Founder and Chair Emeritus of Act One. She has taught screenwriting and entertainment ethics and theology at a number of universities. Most recently, she helped found the Great Books Honors College at Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa CA.

Barbara is a member of the WGA-West and has written screenplays for several Hollywood entities. She is the writer on the expected 2020 release, Fatima for Rose Pictures of NYC, NY. Barbara also Executive Produced the 2010 Origin Entertainment 3D documentary Cosmic Origins and the award-winning short film In Memory, about euthanasia, and the web series Ask J and Judgmental Moose for Franciscan University. She has been a script analyst, production company executive, and consultant on scores of entertainment projects including the features The Passion of the Christ and That Evening Sun, and TV shows Joan of Arcadia (CBS) and Saving Grace (TNT). Read News Story.


Co-writer with Vicki Peterson, Notes for Screenwriters: HAdvancing Your Story, Screenplay and Career With Whatever Hollywood Throws at You, 2015, Michael Wiese Press, London/Los Angeles

Co-edited with Spencer Lewerenz, Behind the Screen: Hollywood Insiders on Faith and Culture, 2005, Baker Books, Chicago, IL



  • Member, Writers Guild of America, West, Los Angeles, CA
  • Founder and Chair Emeritus, Board of Directors, Act One, Inc., Hollywood, CA
  • (past) Board Member, The Magis Institute for Faith and Reason, Irvine, CA
  • (past) Executive Committee, City of the Angels Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA
  • (past) Board Member, Reel Spirituality Conferences
  • (past) Board Member, Santa Fe Communications, Milwaukee, WI
  • (past) Board Member, Holy Cross Family Ministries, Hollywood, CA
  • (past) Board Member, St. Margaret’s Shelter (Catholic Charities), Los Angeles, CA
  • (past) Chair, Board of Directors, Open Call, Malibu, CA
  • (past) Board member, Catholics in Media Associates, Los Angeles, CA
  • (past) Board Member, Intermission, Hollywood, CA

Research Interests

  • Flannery O’Connor’s Contributions to Narrative
  • Towards an Authentic Christian Aesthetic of Cinema

Teaching Philosophy

I was profoundly impacted in my undergraduate days by the Socratic seminar. This method of instruction engaged me on a more personal level much more than the lecture classes I subsequently experienced in graduate school. While not every class can accommodate a seminar style, generally because large class size prohibits it, my nearly twenty years as an instructor and professor have developed in me the conviction that students remember and internalize better whatever they hear themselves saying. Hence, getting the students to articulate often is a key goal in my teaching.

As regards teaching media and entertainment from the standpoint of faith integration, my goal is to get the students to see what they do as artists and entertainment professionals in a vocational light, which is to say that creating visual stories is how God is saving them, and how God is saving the world through them. I stress with them that they are not only meant to do work that will sell, but more urgently, work that will bring to the audience gifts of insight and encouragement.

When it comes to the teaching of writing, my pedagogical philosophy basically comes down to a few convictions that have been born in me through my years of experience training and mentoring writers. The first is that while a classroom is a good venue in which to provide students first principles about the nature of good writing, very soon they need to actually start writing and getting informed and challenging feedback on their work. Secondly, my experience is that the most interesting papers, scripts, and stories come from the most interesting people, and that interesting people come from wrestling with great ideas. Finally, I am a great believer that as much as writing is a talent, it is also a technical and artistic craft that can be honed in anyone with the desire and commitment. Hence, I teach writing by giving lots of writing assignments and then feedback, and then by helping students develop a craftsman’s eye by uncovering and applying techniques that recur in thinkers whose works have lasted and have had great impact.


  • Vitae Award for Culture of Life Leadership, Presented at the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Aid for Women Gala, September 20, 2013
  • Gravitas Spirit of John Paul II Award, 2011, Presented by the Diocese of Tenton, NJ
  • President’s Award, 2010, Presented by the University of Valencia, Spain, for contribution to the Church’s understanding of media and cinema
  • Faculty of the Year Award, 2009, Presented by Act One, Inc.
  • Spirit Award, 2007, Presented by the Windrider Forum at Sundance Film Festival
  • Catholic Press Award, 2002 and 2004, Awarded by the Catholic Press Association
  • Panelist, 2005The National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC
  • Founder’s Award – Santa Croce University, Rome, Italy, for contribution to the Church’s understanding and appreciation of media
  • Lay Catholic of the Year Award, 2003, Presented by Legatus International
  • Film Juror, Gabriel Awards, Catholic Academy of Communication Arts, 1998-2004
  • Blue Ribbon Juror, 2004-present, The Angelus Awards Student Film Festival,
  • Film Juror 1997, 1998 The Humanitas Prize for Screenwriting