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Case Studies

Houston Community College: Embedding Digital Storytelling Across the Higher Education Curriculum

Emily Paulos

StoryCenter's pioneering digital storytelling methods support multi-modal learning and have been demonstrated to increase college students' engagement and retention. Houston Community Colleges (HCCS) is the fourth largest community college system in the United States, serving more than 55,000 students. Beginning in 2014, we led Educational Technology Services and Curriculum Innovation Services staff from the six colleges, as well as faculty from various disciplines, through a series of three-day digital storytelling workshops. Following completion of their own stories, a sub-group of participants attended customized training for facilitation and implementation in the classroom. The program is part of a three-year training and implementation effort designed to incorporate digital storytelling methods across the six HCC campuses.

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Hear Our Stories: Shifting Dominant Narratives About Young Moms and Sexual and Reproductive Health

Emily Paulos

Despite increased attention within the public health field to the need to refrain from stigmatizing teen mothers, prevailing views continue to suggest that these young women cause a whole host of social problems. In an effort to reframe public conversations about young moms and sexuality, health, and reproductive rights, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst School of Public Health initiated the “Hear Our Stories” project, in collaboration with StoryCenter and several other MA and national organizations.

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Pathways to Food Dignity: Narratives Documenting Local Efforts for More Sustainable Food Systems

Emily Paulos

Recognizing that the globalized food system dominating food production and consumption in the United States is both unhealthy and unsustainable, committed activists around the country have for years now been exploring ways to create alternatives. The United States Department of Agriculture-funded Food Dignity project is a research, education, and extension effort bringing together five local organizations and three universities, to learn how to build healthy, sustainable food systems.

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Fielding School of Public Health, UCLA

Emily Paulos

Graduate-level education in public health often involves professional field placements that test the knowledge of students within contexts and conditions of community and international settings. Reflection on field placements can become a critical part of the training process, for pre-professions. The stories of student successes and challenges in these placements assists in telling the story of an educational institution's own goals and accomplishments for preparing the public health leaders of tomorrow. The Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, understands the importance of supporting its graduate students in sharing stories of how service placements have changed them, as people and as professionals.  

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Community Bridges - Concord, New Hampshire

Emily Paulos

Community Bridges in Central New Hampshire promotes opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to exert positive control over their lives. The organization focuses on supporting all members of the local community– those with developmental disabilities, and those without– in benefitting from caring, connected relationships. In the fall of 2014, Community Bridges reached out to StoryCenter, with a desire to explore how story sharing and storymaking can break down the stigma of disability and promote mutually helpful relationships. 

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Charleston County Public Library: Capturing Community Stories

Emily Paulos

Charleston, SC has a rich history and oral storytelling heritage, and the Charleston County Public Library (CCPL) is one of the hosting partners of the annual Charleston Tells Storytelling Festival each spring. In 2014, CCPL decided to add a digital component to the storytelling festival. After contacting StoryCenter, CCPL applied for, and was awarded, a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Institute of Library and Museum Services administered by the South Carolina State Library.

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Asian Women’s Shelter: Stories by Asian and Pacific Islander Women of Surviving Violence

Emily Paulos

While community support services for survivors and witnesses of violence are widely available in the United States, specific attention to the country’s diverse cultural and linguistic needs continues to be in short supply. Asian Women’s Shelter (AWS), based in San Francisco, CA, has for more than 20 years provided survivors of violence and their communities with vital programs that address domestic violence and human trafficking. AWS works with survivors from across the Bay Area, United States, and Pacific territories, paying particular attention to the cultural and linguistic needs of immigrants and refugees from West, South, Southeast, and East Asia.

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PBS & Colorado Public Television: American Graduate Project

Emily Paulos

The school dropout rate among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth is nearly three times the national average. With support from Colorado Public Television (CPT12) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the American Graduate Project aims to re-engage Denver, CO LGBTQ youth in school, through a combination of the multi-media effort "Drop in Denver," community conversation, and the provision of individual guidance to LGBTQ youth.

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Partnership for Appalachian Girls’ Education (PAGE): Teaching 21st Century Literacy Skills to Appalachian Girls

Emily Paulos

Though all areas of Appalachia share the problem of rural poverty, the central Appalachian region, which includes western North Carolina, has the highest poverty rate and a higher percentage of working poor than any other area in the United States. According to the Appalachian Regional Commission, nearly 60 percent of adults in central Appalachia did not graduate from high school, and almost 30 percent of Appalachian adults are functionally illiterate. Gender inequality in the region is also high – women from the Appalachian states share common challenges resulting from low educational attainment, limited employment skills, few strong role models, and low self-esteem. 

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Transitions Clinic Network: Narratives About the Public Health Impacts of Mass Incarceration

Emily Paulos

In recent years, and in tandem with longstanding social justice organizing efforts, the broader public health community has begun to acknowledge and address the significant health impacts of mass incarceration. The Transitions Clinic Network, a model begun at San Francisco General Hospital, provides comprehensive health services to formerly incarcerated women and men. The Network is now expanding nationwide.

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Wild Center - The Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks: Community Maple Project

Emily Paulos

When the Wild Center opened its doors in 2006, it was already one of the most unique science museums in the United States, situated in the heart of the country's largest natural park. The Center's relationship to the local and regional community has always been one of active engagement, and nowhere was that more true than with the decision to provide a maple sugaring education and production facility right at the museum. The Community Maple Project brought scientists and experts, commercial producers, and do-it-yourself enthusiasts together to help the community re-claim the tradition of maple sugaring. 

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The Noyce Foundation Leadership Institute

Emily Paulos

Story in the context of leadership development has a long history, much of it focused on the skills and techniques of conceiving, writing, and performing stories as part of public speaking and presentation activities. Less emphasis has been put on how story can promote self-awareness and self assessment in organizational development and executive training. Learning how to access stories at a deeper level fosters authenticity in communication: you listen, you reflect, you consider, you communicate.

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Seattle Refugee Youth Project: Using Story to Build Young People's Leadership and Networks of Support

Emily Paulos

Upon arrival in the United States, many refugees speak limited or no English, possess few viable job skills, and are faced with the challenge of living with the trauma they may have experienced in their home countries. They also lack the kinds of social networks outside of their own refugee community that can help them get established. In the face of inordinate adjustment challenges, refugee families become the working poor, and refugee children are often considered "at-risk," in educational settings. Many refugee teens face difficult social adjustment issues at school, making it hard for them to stay on course academically. Others have to drop out of school to work at menial jobs, in order to help their families financially.

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Christensen Fund: Stories of Land, Rights, and Culture: Indigenous Community Members in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mexico, and Tajikistan Document Their Efforts to Protect Human Rights and Preserve Traditions

Emily Paulos

Dominant narratives about the “development agenda” often fail to consider the needs and desires of indigenous communities, who face disproportionate threats to their rights and cultural traditions as a result of land grabs, climate change, and pressures to adopt “modern” farming practices and ways of life. The Christensen Fund takes a holistic approach to supporting indigenous communities in regions around the world in their efforts to maintain a connection to their lands, preserve their languages and cultural practices, and pursue legal and political channels to protect their human rights.

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Marie Stopes International: Youth Like Me - Youth Stories in Papua New Guinea and Ghana Support Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health

Emily Paulos

While recognition is growing within the international public health community about the importance of tailoring sexual health services to the specific needs of young people, youth in Papua New Guinea and Ghana struggle to access the health education information and specific reproductive health services they desperately need. Marie Stopes International (MIS) has for many years been developing innovative ways to address these gaps, in collaboration with its in-country partners around the world.

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Saathi Nepal: Voices for Justice - Survivors Link Their Personal Stories to Public Policy for Ending Violence Against Women in Nepal

Emily Paulos

Violence continues to exact a devastating toll on the lives of many Nepalese women and girls. After years of concerted advocacy by women’s and civil society groups in Nepal, the national government enacted legislation in 2009 that is designed to protect the rights of Nepali women impacted by domestic violence. Saathi Nepal, a non-governmental organization working at all levels of Nepali society to eliminate violence and injustice against women and provide support to victims/survivors, was instrumental in the passage of this law.

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Learn From My Story: Rural Ugandan Women Share Difficult Childbirth Experiences and Talk About the Relief of Overcoming Obstetric Fistula

Emily Paulos

Despite the devastating impact of obstetric fistula (a severe medical condition caused by obstructed vaginal delivery during childbirth) on the lives of thousands of women and girls each year, the international health community has until recently largely neglected the problem. The ACQUIRE Project has responded by working with national governments and local partners to strengthen existing and/or implement new comprehensive fistula initiatives. The ACQUIRE approach is holistic, collaborating with stakeholders at the facility and community levels on strategies that can prevent fistula from occurring in the first place, increase women’s access to clinical treatment and counseling, and provide rehabilitation services to help affected women reintegrate into their communities.

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