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Storytelling for Social Change

Discover how crafting an engaging story can deliver a message that inspires audiences and effects real change.

4,281 enrolled on this course

Storytelling for Social Change

Harness the power of storytelling and improve your communication skills

On this course, you’ll discover the secrets of storytelling from expert performers and artists.

Stories are a powerful way to engage an audience and deliver impact. Using characters creates empathy, and makes people more open-minded to hearing something new or engaging with a complex topic.

Learn how storytelling can communicate powerful ideas

By following some simple rules of story craft, any communicator can create empathy and interest – both vitally important when trying to get a message across.

You’ll explore how professionals use stories to drive social change, and understand how introducing multiples perspectives can boost the impact of your message.

Utilise the power of visual storytelling

You’ll learn how visual elements can enhance a story and keep people listening.

You’ll discover how to identify your audience, and create a protagonist that can connect with them, building awareness and shifting attitudes.

Improve the impact of your communication skills

Using peer feedback, quizzes, and personal reflection, you’ll improve your own storytelling techniques, whether you work with a brand, a not-for-profit, or just want to become a better public speaker.

Studying performances and hearing from storytelling professionals, you‘ll end by developing a creative project of your own.

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    Introduction: Belief Systems

    • Welcome to Storytelling for Social Change!

      Thanks for joining us in Storytelling for Social Change! Review the materials in this activity to gain an overview of this course.

    • Priscilla Lindsay on Belief Systems

      This activity includes the interview with Professor Priscilla Lindsay and an excerpt of her performance: "The Grapes of Wrath".

    • Belief Systems

      "But each side of an issue has a story, and one way to promote social change is to listen."

    • Additional Readings & Media

      Additional learning materials on Belief Systems.

    • Peer Assessment: Tell a Personal Story

      Assess your learning in this activity.

  • Week 2

    Inciting Empathy

    • Introduction and Overview

      "One way to use storytelling to promote social change is to present multiple sides of an issue from multiple perspectives. So audiences can hear a voice they may not have listened to before."

    • Malcolm Tulip on Empathy

      This activity includes the interview with Professor Malcolm Tulip and his performance: "Questions".

    • Empathy

      "Storytelling for social change, involves creating empathy, in the hope of changing belief systems of a listener or a viewer."

    • Additional Readings & Media

      Additional learning materials on Inciting Empathy.

    • Assessment and Activity

      Assess your learning in this activity.

  • Week 3

    Story Structure Analysis, Audiences, and Social Change

    • Introduction and Overview

      "As storytellers, we keep in mind who our audiences are and sometimes tailor the way we tell a story to impact the particular group."

    • Holly Hughes on Story Structure and Audience

      As you listen and watch Holly Hughes at work, think about how they structure their stories. Also think about who their audiences are.

    • Ashley Lucas on the Bridge between Storytelling and Social Change

      As you listen and watch Ashley Lucas at work, think about how they structure their stories. Also think about who their audiences are.

    • Additional Readings & Media

      Additional learning materials on Story Structure Analysis, Audiences, and Social Change

    • Assessment and Activity

      Assess your learning in this activity.

  • Week 4

    Story Structure, Character Building, and Impact

    • Introduction and Overview

      "Structuring your story is an important aspect of how you'll affect social change."

    • José Casas on Storytelling for Social Change

      We speak with playwright José Casas about how he approaches structuring stories.

    • Additional Readings & Media

      Additional learning materials on Story Structure, Character Building, and Impact.

    • Assessment and Activity

      Assess your learning in this activity.

  • Week 5

    Storyboarding

    • Introduction and Overview

      "Designers use visual tools, such as lines, shape, texture, and color to create context, character, mood, and environments."

    • Vince Mountain on Scene Design

      Vince Mountain: a set designer who creates worlds for storytelling.

    • Christianne Myers on Costume Design

      Christianne Myers: a costume designer helping the audience understand the big story of what's happening on stage.

    • Perspectives of Storytelling Practitioners

      This activity includes interviews with Tsering Lama and Will Potter.

    • Additional Readings & Media

      Additional learning materials on Storyboarding.

    • Assessment and Activity

      Assess your learning in this activity.

    • Conclusion

      Celebrate your achievements and apply storytelling to promote social change.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Discuss how professionals use stories to elicit social change.
  • Introduce multiple perspectives into stories for social impact.
  • Learn how to identify an audience, communicate a message, and develop a strong protagonist to deliver your message.
  • Identify how empathy and belief systems affect storytellers and audience members.
  • Use visual elements to enhance a storytelling project.

Who is the course for?

This course would benefit professionals who want to tell an impactful story, including those working in not-for-profit or commercial sectors, marketing teams, writers, educators, and public speakers.

Who will you learn with?

Anita Gonzalez (Ph.D.) is a professor of performing arts and African American studies at Georgetown University and a co-Founder of their Racial Justice Institute.

Who developed the course?

University of Michigan

As the #1 public research university in the United States, U-M has been a leader in research, learning, and teaching for more than 200 years, with 102 Grad programs in the top 10 — U.S. News & World Report (2019).

  • Established

    1817
  • Location

    Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  • World ranking

    Top 30Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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