COC to hold screening and discussion of ‘How to Blow Up a Pipeline’


A screening and discussion of the controversially titled film “How to Blow Up a Pipeline,” hosted by the College of the Canyons philosophy department, is meant to spark a discussion on ethics and whether the ends justify the means, according to the dean of the College of Humanities at COC.

In a phone interview on Monday, Dean Andy McCutcheon said the philosophy department typically has optional film screenings throughout the year for students to earn extra credit. The films can be selected by either students or faculty, he added. 

“Typically what they’ll try to do is, either soliciting ideas from students or things that come out from class or just sometimes the instructors will see something that cross references nicely with what they’re discussing in class,” McCutcheon said. 

The film being screened is a 2022 R-rated action thriller based on a nonfiction book written in 2021 of the same name. According to a description of the film on the website for the Toronto International Film Festival, where the film premiered in 2022, the film follows a crew of young environmental activists and their daring mission to sabotage an oil pipeline. 

McCutcheon said that as climate change is a relevant topic in today’s world, the department felt this would be a good way to examine the issue. He added that the college is in no way advocating for anyone to blow up a pipeline, as the film’s title suggests, or teaching anyone how to do so, though he initially did a double take himself when he saw the flyer promoting the screening. 

“It’s definitely not an endorsement,” McCutcheon said. “Our philosophy instructors, I’ve had the pleasure of observing a number of their classes, doing faculty evaluations, and one thing I find that they typically all have in common is they very much honor that Socratic method. They’re not up there proselytizing or advocating any point of view. They’re typically just asking the students questions, trying to get them to think critically, to explore ideas and come up with their own.” 

Students typically run the discussions after these screenings, McCutcheon said, with professors there to act as guides throughout the process. 

“They’re pretty good,” McCutcheon said. “It usually doesn’t happen, but in any group situation, there can be that one person that wants to go way out on a tangent or a rant or something. And I think because of the nature of philosophy, there’s so much potential for that, that those faculty are really experts in kind of reining those things in, in a friendly way that no one feels called out or cut off. Everyone’s welcome, but they do a good job of keeping it kind of focused and constructive.” 

The screening and ensuing discussion of the film, slated for 2 p.m. Wednesday, is meant for COC students and faculty, McCutcheon said. 

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