Storytelling Academy Goes Glocal – Public Talks and Workshops in Leicester, Sweden and Russia!

Over the past few months, during the continuing pandemic and resultant lockdowns, we have continued to reach out to our international partners to support existing and new collaborations. As well as adapting our international research activities to the online world, we have been delivering a number of public talks and workshops that have extended our partnerships and increased our global visibility.

On 27th November 2020 Professor Mike Wilson teamed up with Dr Marcus Bussey from the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia to deliver an online workshop on Storytelling and Sustainability to over 100 participants from various academic and non-academic organisations in Sweden, as part of the MISTRA environmental research programme ( . This was a welcome opportunity to collaborate at well with our old friends at the SWEDESD (Swedish International Centre of Education for Sustainable Development) at Uppsala University who are involved in the delivery of the programme. This has already led to further discussions about future collaborations.

Closer to home, Mike also gave a lecture to members of the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society on 8th February 2021. This was also an online event attended by nearly 100 society members. The talk, entitled, ‘Storytelling with a Social Purpose, or how we are trying to change the world, one story at a time’ and was an opportunity to talk about a wide range of the projects we have been engaged with over the past six and a half years. Here is the abstract for the talk:

We tell stories not only as a way of conveying experiences, thoughts, feelings and information to each other, but also as a way of understanding those things. This talk explores how storytelling, in its many forms, can unlock new ways of knowing and thinking about the world and, when combined with other forms of knowledge can help us address some of the major challenges facing society today. Drawing on projects from India, Kenya and Colombia, as well Europe, the talk will propose that stories, far from being frivolous and transient items of cultural currency, are the very things that have the potential to change the world.

Later that same week, on 12th February, Mike also gave a key note lecture to members of staff and students at Voronezh State University in Russia. This was a public lecture and the audience of over 100 came from universities from all over Russia. The talk, entitled ‘Storytelling and the Digital Revolution: how technology has changed our narrative selves, and also how it has not’ was part of a programme we our running with colleagues in Voronezh as part of the UK-Russia Creative Bridge programme, run by the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy in Moscow and supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Here is the abstract:

The evolution of digital technologies, and in particular web-based platforms, has had a profound effect on the way we conduct one of our fundamental behaviours as human beings: storytelling. The impact of technological advancement in recent decades on homo narrans has been as profound as that of the Kodak Box Brownie on domestic photography, or of the printing press on book production. We now all have access to global audiences for our stories, as well as new tools to incorporate into our telling, and what used to be known as the Information Superhighway’ has become the Narrative Superhighway. Against this background a new practice of ‘Digital Storytelling’ has emerged with its own community of practitioners and audiences. For researchers and teachers of storytelling, it is a constantly evolving practice that has presented us with new ways of co-creating knowledge and learning.

The rest of the programme will include a Digital Storytelling workshop run by Dr Antonia Liguori and our friend Dr Philippa Rappoport from the Smithsonian Institution and then an evaluation and planning seminar with Mike, Antonia and our colleagues from Voronezh to think about future collaborations.