The Power of Stories: Language, Communication, and Leadership for Creating Change

Winter 2020
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 25
8 12 Credits per quarter
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We will explore the power of stories to shape and change the world, from traditional myth-tellers to the art of storytelling in the modern world, stories are fundamental to being human. How and why do we tell them?  How do stories help us navigate our lives? We will use the art of storytelling to build bridges, cultivate understanding, create community, and as a tool for communication, empowerment, and leadership.

Through guided and supported practice, we will unlock the imaginative and poetic skills of the storyteller. As we listen for the elements of oral narrative in everyday events, we will learn to interpret experiences and frame narratives that nourish ourselves, our relationships, our communities, and our connection to the natural world. We will examine ways that the media, political, and social structures use stories to shape popular consciousness, and we will trace the development of narratives through spoken-word and mnemonic-arts to the technologies of writing, literature, print, and modern media.

Participants will develop and refine stories for oral presentation, and will focus on an area of professional practice, service, or leadership as they explore the forms, strengths, and uses of storytelling as a practical art for transformative healing, learning, activism, advocacy, social change, communication, and community-building, as well as for sustaining cultural and family groups, supporting self-reflection, and providing entertainment through a variety of performance, literary, or technological mediums. We will also explore how stories function in traditional oral cultures where language and myth are often grounded in a relationship between humans and the natural world.

From science, to story, to sustainability, to social and environmental justice, to human and community service--this program offers a foundation in both theory and practice as we explore storytelling and word-play in a variety of interdisciplinary and professional fields, and from diverse cultural, artistic, and social perspectives. Participants will be encouraged to share stories in a wide variety of settings as we ask: “How can stories, ancient and modern, help us understand and respond to the challenges we face in a quickly changing world?”

12 Credit Option: Students who enroll for 12 credits will participate in all program activities plus a 4 credit in-program Individual Learning Contract (ILC) or Internship. The content of the ILC or internship must to relate to the program and will need to be approved by the faculty by the end of Week 1 of the quarter. Email the faculty directly with any questions about other credit options.


Winter 2020 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

(8): 20114
(12): 20289

Academic details

Preparatory For

education, community service, community action research, administration, public and human services, counseling and psychology, public advocacy, political discourse, ethics and law, folklore and oral history, writing, literature, language, communications, media studies, the arts, leadership, social entrepreneurship, natural history, environmental and outdoor education, STEAM/science education and communication, diversity studies, social, political and environmental activism, and other areas. 

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$50 for event and conference entrance fees, including the Chinese New Year Ceremony on January 31st


In Person or Remote
In Person
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

SEM 2 B1105 - Lecture


Date Revision
2019-11-05 12-credit option added (CRN 20289)