Stories for Social Change


This course takes as its centerpiece a story-building collaboration among Duke students and Durham community members that examines societal "visibility" and "invisibility" built by poverty, privilege, physical violence, and injustice.

Students will engage in an expansive dialogue on race, class, and gender as unique yet interlinked social barriers to coalition building. Students will also investigate the ways in which personal narratives and storytelling advocate for social justice and reform.

Course partnerships with North Carolina arts and service organizations such as Hidden Voices and the Durham Crisis Response Center and Duke-based offices such as the Women’s Center and the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity will allow students and community participants to craft, interrogate, and perform stories with the goal of creating social awareness and investigating policy change around the issues of sexual and domestic violence.

Past student Danielle Mayes describes how the course has bred real change both at Duke and in her own life:

"The #WeAreHere Duke project was more than just a class thing that you do for one semester and then let it go. This is something that actually breeds real change and has significant effects on the people that are involved.  Especially when talking about activism, social change. With this class we actually got to see results from our work over the semester, " said Mayes.

Here's an excerpt from an article from, emphasizing the service-learning aspect of the course:

Telling Stories for Social Change” was designed and facilitated from a solutions-based perspective.  The end to sexual violence is reachable and teachable.  The course would provide space for students to uncover and deconstruct personal and societal attitudes and biases related to the issues of interpersonal violence and then utilize their new understanding to facilitate similar integrative pathways for peers.  And because this was a service-learning course, students would be learning from community members through oral histories and ethnographies or what we at Hidden Voices call “living listening.

Here's another article about the course from the Duke Chronicle.

One of the course projects is building a vision wall of how the world would look and feel if there were no sexual violence. The video below shows the vision wall from 2016:



Stories for Social Change