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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh Futures Institute : Edinburgh Futures Institute

Postgraduate Course: Story Roots for Sustainable Futures (fusion online) (EFIE11099)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh Futures Institute CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe environmental crises the world is facing now and into the future have roots in the stories that we tell about ourselves, our communities and our relationships with the ecosystems we are embedded in. This course will provide you with a critical grounding in social sciences understandings of how narratives function in society, particularly in relation to social transformation and to sustainable orientations and practices. Students will come away from the course with a knowledge of how stories have been used and are being used to connect people to the more-than-human world around them as well as learning the skills to work critically with stories in the community and in their own practices.
Course description Story Roots for Sustainable Futures will begin by looking critically at how narratives function in societies. Narratives convey shared values and meanings, which can bring groups and entire societies together. However, there are always alternative or counter-narratives at play as well. We will look at how some stories dominate widely, while others are more local to place and to subcultures and groups. From this grounding, we will look at strategies for working with stories to effect social change and examine case studies where storytelling is used in relation to nature connection and environmental sustainability.

We will explore storytelling traditions and tales as core to intangible cultural heritage (ICH), enabling traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) to be maintained and shared, and look critically at how to work respectfully with the ICH of other cultures. We will also look at creating new stories, particularly for communicating science in engaging ways.

The two-day intensive will be run in a workshop format, providing you with hands-on training in crafting and telling stories. We will explore local place and nature connection through story. A guest storyteller will join us for half a day, to share stories and insights about working with ICH, storytelling and TEK. Across the two days, there will be plenty of opportunities to share in small and large group settings. Our intensive will conclude with a live-streamed storytelling Ceilidh, providing you with an opportunity to tell a story to your peers. Learning before and after the intensive will be accessed online through readings, videos and short, independent exercises aimed at connecting you through story to the place where you live. In keeping with the Ceilidh culture, we will also be meeting up online at four 'kitchen table gatherings' for an informal chat about what you are learning during these periods.

Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) - Online Fusion Course Delivery Information:

The Edinburgh Futures Institute will teach this course in a way that enables online and on-campus students to study together. This approach (our 'fusion' teaching model) offers students flexible and inclusive ways to study, and the ability to choose whether to be on-campus or online at the level of the individual course. It also opens up ways for diverse groups of students to study together regardless of geographical location. To enable this, the course will use technologies to record and live-stream student and staff participation during their teaching and learning activities. Students should note that their interactions may be recorded and live-streamed. There will, however, be options to control whether or not your video and audio are enabled.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  6
Course Start Semester 2
Course Start Date 15/01/2024
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 8, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 3.5, Online Activities 10, Formative Assessment Hours 3.5, Other Study Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 71 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) Other Study: Scheduled Group-work Hours (hybrid online/on-campus) - 2
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Summative Assessment:

The course will be assessed by means of the following assessment components:

1) 2000 Word Contribution to 'Storytelling for Sustainable Futures Toolkit' (100%)

The contribution to the public-facing and online toolkit will be a set of instructions, up to 1000 words in length (or equivalent in audio, image or video), on how to do some aspect of storytelling for social change, this could be related to challenging dominant stories, or to excavating alternative stories, or to amplifying alternative stories. It could be a proposal for an event or performance. These contributions should be aimed at an audience of people and communities wanting to work with stories for social transformation in relation to sustainability. This will be introduced and contextualised through a 1000 word essay that engages with the themes introduced in the course and explains how the student drew on these to create their toolkit contribution.

Formative Assessment:

Each course within Edinburgh Futures Institute includes the opportunity for you to participate in a formative feedback exercise or event which will help you prepare for your summative assessment. The formative assessment does not contribute to your overall course mark.

1) Storytelling Performance Skills

This will be assessed formatively, at a livestreamed storytelling Ceilidh on the afternoon of the second day.

The story should be 5-10 minutes in length.

Those who are not able to attend (whether online or in person), will be asked to submit a recorded story within a week of that session.
Feedback Feedback on the formative assessment may be provided in various formats, for example, to include written, oral, video, face-to-face, whole class, or individual. The course organiser will decide which format is most appropriate in relation to the nature of the assessment.

Feedback on both formative and summative in-course assessed work will be provided in time to be of use in subsequent assessments within the course.

Feedback on the summative assessment will be provided in written form via Learn, the University of Edinburgh's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Formative Assessment Feedback:

- As students can learn as much by critiquing someone else's performance, each student will be asked to give feedback to 3 of their peers and they will receive feedback from myself and 3 of their peers on what 'shone', where people got confused and where people wanted more details from their peers.

- As it is anticipated that some students may not be able to attend the live Ceilidh, some students will be giving feedback on a mix of live, live-recorded and submitted late stories.

- Creating and telling a story related to environmental sustainability will give students first-hand experience both as teller and audience, introducing them in an embodied way to the opportunities and challenges in working with stories in this way. This experience will help them to define an opportunity and/or a challenge to work on for their toolkit contribution, which could include this story as part of a proposed event or performance.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop original, creative and effective narrative responses to environmental issues.
  2. Understand and manage in relation to practice, the complex ethical issues involved in working with narrative forms of intangible cultural heritage.
  3. Use and apply appropriate skills and techniques to engage a range of audiences with environmental issues through storytelling.
  4. Strategise around the effective use of storytelling in communicating critically evaluated research-based and data-based information to a range of non-specialist audiences.
Reading List
Indicative Reading List:

BALDWIN, C. 2005. Storycatcher: Making Sense of Our Lives Through the Power and Practice of Story, Novato, CA, New World Library.

BAMBERG, M. G. W. & ANDREWS, M. 2004. Considering counter-narratives : narrating, resisting, making sense, Amsterdam
Philadelphia, Amsterdam : J. Benjamins.

BASSO, K. H. 1992. Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache, Albuquerque, NM, University of New Mexico Press.

BENFORD, R. D. 2002. Controlling Narratives and Narratives as Control within Social Movements. In: DAVIS, J. E. (ed.) Stories of Change: Narrative and Social Movements. Albany: State University of New York Press.

BRUNER, J. 1996. The Culture of Education, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.

BURROWAY, J. 2000. Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, 5th Ed., New York, Longman.

CAMERON, J. 2003. Educating for place responsiveness: an Australian perspective on ethical practice. Ethics, Place and Environment, 6, 99-115.

CAMPBELL, J. 1973 [1949]. The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press.

CHAMBERLIN, J. E. 2003. If This is Your Land, Where are Your Stories? Finding Common Ground, Toronto, Alfred A. Knopf Canada.

CHENEY, J. 2005. Truth, Knowledge and the Wild World. Ethics and the Environment, 10, 1001-135.

CRUIKSHANK, J. 1990. Life Lived Like a Story: Life Stories of Three Yukon Native Elders, Lincoln, NE, University of Nebraska Press.

CRUIKSHANK, J. 1998. The Social Life of Stories: Narrative and Knowledge in the Yukon Territory, Lincoln, NE, University of Nebraska Press.

CUSACK-MCVEIGH, H. 2008. The Giant Footprints: A Lived Sense of Story and Place. In: SCHNEIDER, W. (ed.) Living with Stories: Telling, Re-telling, and Remembering. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press.

DATTA, R. 2018. Traditional storytelling: An effective Indigenous research methodology and its implications for environmental research. AlterNative : an international journal of indigenous peoples, 14, 35-44.

DAVIS, J. E. 2002. Stories of Change Narrative and Social Movements, Albany, Albany : State University of New York Press.

ECKSTEIN, B. & THROGMORTON, J. A. (eds.) 2003. Story and Sustainability: Planning, Practice, and Possibility for American Cities, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

FINE, G. A. 2002. The Storied Group: Social Movements as 'Bundles of Narratives'. In: DAVIS, J. E. (ed.) Stories of Change: Narrative and Social Movements. Albany: State University of New York Press.

FRANCESCA, P., PANG CHING BOBBY, C., BETH GHARRITY, G. & ALICE, M. 2011. The Sociology of Storytelling. Annual review of sociology, 37, 109-130.

FRANK, A. W. 2002. Why Study People's Stories? The Dialogical Ethics of Narrative Analysis. The International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 1.

FRANK, A. W. 2014. Narrative Ethics as Dialogical Story-Telling. The Hastings Center report, 44, S16-S20.

FREEDMAN, J. & COMBS, G. 1996. Shifting paradigms: From systems to stories. In: FREEDMAN, J. & COMBS, G. (eds.) Narrative Therapy: The social construction of preferred realities. New York: Norton.

FUERTES, A. 2012. Storytelling and Its Transformative Impact in the Phillipines. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 29.

GALLANT, K., BALL, J. & CALDWELL, W. 2006. Once Upon a Land-Use Conflict: Huron County uses storytelling to mend fences. Alternatives Journals, 32, 33.

GARE, A. 2001. Narratives and The Ethics and Politics of Environmentalism: The Transformative Power of Stories. Theory and Science, 2, on-line.

HOGAN, L. 2001. The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A native memoir, New York, W.W. Norton.

HORSELY, K. 2007. Storytelling, conflict and diversity. Community Development Journal 42, 265-269.

KIMMERER, R. W. 2013. Skywoman Falling. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. Milkweed Editions.

KING, T. 2005. The truth about stories: a native narrative, Minneapolis, Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press.

KULNIEKS, A., LONGBOAT, D. R. & YOUNG, K. 2013. Contemporary studies in environmental and indigenous pedagogies a curricula of stories and place, Rotterdam Boston, Rotterdam: SensePublishers.

LISZKA, J. J. 2003. The Narrative Ethics of Leopold's Sand County Almanac. Ethics and the Environment, 8.

MAINES, D. R. 1993. Narrative's moment and sociology's phenomena - toward a narrative sociology. Sociological Quarterly, 34, 17-37.

MAINES, D. R. & BRIDGER, J. 1992. "Narratives, Community, and Land Use Decisions". The Social Science Journal, 29, 363-380.

MCADAMS, D. P. & MCLEAN, K. C. 2013. Narrative Identity. Current directions in psychological science, 22, 233-238.

MEADOWS, D. 1999. Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System. The Sustainability Institute: Hartland, VT.

MOLTHAN-HILL, P., LUNA, H., WALL, T., PUNTHA, H. & BADEN, D. (eds.) 2020. Storytelling for Sustainability in Higher Education: An Educator's Handbook, London: Routledge.

NABHAN, G. P. 1997. Cultures of Habitat: On Nature, Culture, and Story, Washington, D.C., Couterpoint Press.

NELSON, H. L. 2001. Damaged Identities, Narrative Repair, Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press.

NOY, C. 2004. This Trip Really Changed Me: Backpackers: Narratives of Self-Change. Annals of Tourism Research, 31, 78-102.

POLLETTA, F. 1998. Contending stories: Narrative in social movements. Qualitative Sociology, 21, 419-446.

POLLETTA, F. 2002. Plotting Protest: Mobilizing Stories in the 1960 Student Sit-ins. In: DAVIS, J. E. (ed.) Stories of Change: Narrative and Social Movements. Albany: State University of New York Press.

POLLETTA, F. 2006. It was like a fever storytelling in protest and politics, Chicago, Chicago : University of Chicago Press.

POLLETTA, F. & CALLAHAN, J. 2017. Deep stories, nostalgia narratives, and fake news: Storytelling in the trump era. American journal of cultural sociology, 5, 392-408.

POLLETTA, F. & REDMAN, N. 2020. When do stories change our minds? Narrative persuasion about social problems. Sociology compass, 14, n/a.

PRESTON, C. J. 2001. Intrinsic value and care: Making connections through ecological narratives. Environmental Values, 10, 243-263.

ROLSTON III, H. 1998. Down to Earth: Persons in Place in Natural History. In: LIGHT, A. & SMITH, J. M. (eds.) Philosophies of Place, Philosophy and Geography III. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.

SANDERCOCK, L. 2003. Out of the closet: The importance of stories and storytelling in planning practice. Planning Theory and Practice 4, 11-28.

SOMERS, M. R. 1994a. The Narrative Constitution of Identity: A Relational and Network Approach. Theory and Society, 23, 605-649.

SOMERS, M. R. A. G., GLORIA D 1994b. Reclaiming the Epistemological 'Other': Narrative and the Social Constitution of Identity. In: CALHOUN, C. (ed.) Social Theory and the Politics of Identity. Oxford: Blackwell Books.

WALKER, A. 1997. Anything We Love Can Be Saved, New York, The Ballantine Publishing Group.

WHITE, M. & EPSTON, D. 1990. Story, Knowledge, and Power. Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends. New York: WW Norton and Company.

WILLIS, A. 2012. Constructing a story to live by: Ethics, emotions and academic practice in the context of climate change. Emotion, Space and Society, 5, 52-59.

WILLIS, A. 2013. Bearing Witness: Re-storying the Self in Places that are Always More Than Human Made. Journal of Animal Studies

ZIPES, J. 2019. Speaking the Truth with Folk and Fairy Tales: The Power of the Powerless. The Journal of American folklore, 132, 243-259.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The course has a large focus on developing graduate skills in communication (SCQF 4), as well as on the development, practice and application of applied knowledge and creative skills in a range of contexts (SCQF 2). Graduates will also have developed their critical understanding of the issues related to the use of ICH and their ability to apply skills in response to complex problems (SCQF 3).
KeywordsStorytelling,Oral Culture,Cultural Appropriation,Ecology,Systems Theory,Narrative,Sociology,Social
Course organiserDr Alette Willis
Tel: (0131 6)50 3881
Course secretaryMiss Abby Gleave
Tel: (0131 6)51 1337
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