Storytelling for Change in the Geosciences

Thursday, Friday 8-11am PT / 9am-12pm MT / 10am-1pm CT / 11am-2pm ET Online


Adam Papendieck, The University of Texas at Austin
Julia Clarke, The University of Texas at Austin
Kathy Ellins, The University of Texas at Austin

This workshop is based on the HHMI-funded Geoscience Ambassadors program at UT Austin. The aim of the workshop is to share ways of embedding personal storytelling in courses and programs to develop a high context and inclusive environment for science. Participants will leave with an understanding of how storytelling can be used to promote change in the field, as well as some practical tools and plans they can use for action.

Context: The Geosciences Ambassadors are diverse undergraduate and graduate students who use their personal stories to connect with and inspire others to consider a career in the geosciences. Over the course of a year, Ambassadors systematically learn about and reflect upon who they are and where they come from, identify barriers and tensions they have experienced in becoming geoscientists, and ultimately craft authentic, video-based "pathway stories" that narrate their personal journey into the geosciences in a way that speaks effectively to an identity group or home town to which they feel connected. The year-long process of community interviewing, reflection and storytelling is simultaneously used to inform their design and implementation of a targeted outreach activity.


The workshop will share research and design information on the Geoscience Ambassadors program as well as a new Storytelling for Change Kit of open curricular materials and activities. Participants will learn about Storytelling for Change by participating in a two-day version of the entire process. They will also be engaged in discussion and planning for potential adaptation of Storytelling for Change and the Ambassadors Program in new contexts.

Workshop Program »

Target Audience

This workshop is designed for post-secondary teaching and research faculty who are interested in transforming the field.


Main Goal 1: Learn how to tell your own story for change

  • Establish context
    • Update evidence-based understanding of what our geoscientific discipline does and who gets to be a geoscientist.
    • Reflect on your own communities of identity. How are the geosciences are perceived, valued and misunderstood in communities?
  • Craft an authentic personal story that has something to say to a particular audience about what your discipline is, why it is valuable, how they can be a part of it, and where they might take it in the future.
    • Reflect upon your personal goals, values and motivations in the geosciences.
    • Articulate your unique pathway to the geosciences.
    • Link your personal narrative to community context to make an authentic connection.
  • Learn how to share your story in a way that has an impact.

Main Goal 2: Learn how to help others tell their stories for change

  • Understand how to use the Storytelling for Change Kit in different contexts.
  • Sketch your design for a storytelling for change activity or program at your institution.


Key concepts and resources will be introduced each day, and participants will be facilitated in a process of small group discussion, individual reflection, writing and peer-feedback using resources from the Storytelling for Change Kit. The workshop will close with facilitated discussion and planning sessions with the goal of promoting, supporting and linking related activities in other contexts and at other institutions.


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