Course Description

History has shown that stories are inextricably linked to what it means to be human. Before there was formal communication, there were stories. It should come as no surprise, then, that social movements and organizations like nonprofits, foundations, and socially responsible businesses are now working to leverage stories as a strategic tool to advance important missions. Effective stories are powerful because they drive action: spurring donations, mobilizing supporters, and more. By building emotional connections, stories bring to life the work of the issues we care so much about in ways that other forms of communication cannot.

Georgetown University’s Online Certificate in Social Impact Storytelling teaches changemakers of all types, especially current and aspiring marketers, communicators, fundraisers, and journalists, how to harness the power of effective storytelling for the strategic benefit of an organization and society as a whole. With a curriculum developed from Georgetown University’s renowned Center for Social Impact Communication, the program provides you with opportunities to learn from applied research, engage with expert faculty and industry thought leaders, and develop your personal skills as a storyteller.

Fundamentals of Social Impact Storytelling  Storytelling is inextricably linked to what it means to be a human being. Before there were formal forms of communication, our ancestors were telling stories through cave paintings, ancient hieroglyphics, and around the campfire as a way to connect and share knowledge. Today, storytelling has had a renaissance of importance as research has proven that stories can drive targeted action on behalf of important social impact issues. This course provides students with foundational knowledge about the historic usage of stories in order to understand how to harness that power of influence for modern day applications within social impact settings. Students will also learn a strategic story plan framework developed by Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication that they will utilize throughout the certificate in order to create a portfolio of stories

Designing Stories With Purpose and Emotion  Stories that effectively drive action on behalf of social impact issues--whether that action be to increase donations, activate partnerships, advocate for legislation, or motivate volunteers--must be designed with purpose and emotion. They cannot be haphazard. Students will gain practical hands-on knowledge as to how to strategically define the purpose of stories they wish to create that align with the overall objectives of their social impact organization or setting. They will also learn and evaluate the five essential building blocks of effective social impact stories--character, trajectory, authenticity, action-oriented emotions, and a hook--by analyzing practical examples from nonprofits, responsible businesses, and social movements.

Creating Your Story Portfolio   Utilizing knowledge gained in the previous two courses, students will create a custom story portfolio in this course. They will identify and develop four strategic types of social impact stories: personal, organizational, symbolic and issue specific. While creating their portfolio, students will receive one-on-one advising from the instructor and learn from the experiences of peers within the cohort by participating in review sessions.

Building A Sustainable Culture of Storytelling  Everyone within a team or an organization must be part of the storytelling process if it is to be a sustainable strategy. Georgetown University research shows that two main components are present in groups with strong cultures of storytelling: mindset and appreciation for stories, as well as the capacity to create them. In this course, students first assess the current culture or storytelling within their own social impact setting. Through expert interviews, case studies and the sharing of experiences within the cohort, students will then choose custom strategies to employ that will work to build a culture of storytelling within their own setting.

Future of Storytelling  As technology evolves at a rapid pace, so too does the ability to tell and share stories for social impact in exciting new ways. Through inspiring examples and interviews with thought-leaders, this course will explore how storytelling will evolve in the future and what those “change spaces” mean for effectively communicating the work of the social impact sector. Students will learn about five key storytelling megatrends based on Georgetown University research, such as virtual reality and citizen storytelling programs, as well as apply those ideas for the benefit of their own work.

Becoming A Story Changemaker   This culminating course in the Certificate in Social Impact Storytelling program aims to activate each student’s potential as a changemaker within society as a storyteller-leader. In order to do so, students will work closely with the instructor and cohort members to discover and reflect upon the story archetypes that have been influenced by their unique experiences and life philosophy by analyzing results from the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator Assessment. Students will conclude the course having developed personal action steps to maximize their role as a story changemaker that fits into the larger strategic plan that they have created for their social impact organization or setting.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of the certificate, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain how stories throughout history have acted as a tool for influence and express how to harness that power today
  • Use the research-proven building blocks of effective stories to drive emotional connections with target audiences
  • Develop a strategic plan for using storytelling within your social impact work
  • Create a portfolio of stories for personal and professional use
  • Assess how future trends in social impact storytelling could apply to your own work
  • Create personal action steps to maximize your role as a story changemaker

Applies Towards the Following Certificates

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Sep 02, 2024 to Nov 24, 2024
Contact Hours
Course Tuition
Tuition non-credit $5,995.00
  • John Trybus
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