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From Podcasts to Personal Stories: Driving Change

An NC State fall semester course, HONS 295: Storytelling for Social Change, empowered students to use their voices to solve global challenges. Led by Dr. Maru Gonzalez, assistant professor and extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences, this interdisciplinary course focuses on developing stories to create awareness and drive change.

“Storytelling is such a powerful tool for nurturing connection, fostering understanding, self-reflection and reducing prejudice”, says Gonzalez. “If we all took the time to listen—really listen—to others’ stories, the world would indeed be a kinder, more compassionate place.”

If we all took the time to listen—really listen—to others’ stories, the world would indeed be a kinder, more compassionate place.

Dr. Maru Gonzalez

Through this course, students in the University Honors Program learn how to create and perform original stories while applying strategies for effective and ethical messaging and collaboration.

“I learned how to script, edit and pace a podcast effectively to convey an important message while maintaining a listener’s attention,” said Michael Hatcher, a student in the College of Sciences.

HONS 295 also emphasizes the importance of listening and collaboration during research. 

“We learned about how important it was for an ally to amplify the voices of the groups we are supporting,” said student Priyanj Patel.

In addition to expanding their storytelling skills, students also gain a deeper understanding of communities that face challenging environmental issues. 

“Researching about these issues in a local sense was very eye-opening as to the impacts these things have on real people,” said Jack Lance, a student in the College of Engineering.

The course culminates in an open-mic type setting where students present their stories to the class, campus partners and community members. 

“This course pushes back against the dominant narrative that young people’s ideas are not important, that they are too naive and inexperienced to make a difference,” says Gonzalez.  “The passion and knowledge [students] have for this topic makes me hopeful for the future of our planet. I’m excited to see how students continue to broaden the impact of their message across campus and beyond.”

Learn more about HONS 295 by exploring some of the students’ projects here:

This post was originally published in Sustainability News.