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Community Inquiry & Digital Storytelling: Joan Oates Institute

June 26-28, 2018, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Using the Out of Eden Walk project as a model, participants will learn how to define, explore and tell the stories of their communities through close observation, sketchbooks, video and writing.

Paul Salopek’s Out of Eden Walk project is a 10-year, 21,000-mile walking journey in the pathways of ancient human migration, from Ethiopia in Africa to the tip of South America. As he slow-walks the world, Salopek is reporting on the individuals and communities he encounters, using the latest in digital technology to collect and share their stories.

Workshop participants will work with PIA teaching artists to learn how to explore their communities through close observation and connect curricular content through arts integrated instructional practices. Educators will develop the knowledge and skills to engage their students in creating compelling narratives and a digital map of community stories by building skills in sketching, interviewing, photography, video and sound.

Salopek’s journey and mapping of these stories provides an exciting resource for teachers of all subjects. His educational partner, Harvard’s Project Zero, has produced an Out of Eden Learn educational guide that will inform our community-based journey and its connection to this global project.


To explore the horizons of “slow” journalism in a laboratory and field setting, educators will explore the surrounding community, then conceive, design, and implement a multimedia narrative project of their own design, in StoryMapJS, based on the precepts and example of the Out of Eden Walk.


Professional development registration (recertification point eligible)

  • PIA Consortium Member: $449
  • Non-PIA Consortium Member: $499

Graduate credit registration: $534 (2 semester hours)

Cost includes all course materials and daily lunch in the Heilman Dining Center. Participants who successfully complete the professional development course (complete all required work with perfect attendance) will receive a 30-hour certificate of completion. Participants who successfully complete the graduate course will earn two semester hours of credit.

Daily Workshop Details

Day 1: Tuesday
Defining Arts Integration/Course Overview

Partners in the Arts (PIA) staff breaks down the concept of “teaching all subjects through the arts” first used in PIA’s founding Arts in Education Plan in 1993. Follow the course of twenty-two years of teacher training and arts integration project support and discover how and why the PIA methodology is a universal and timeless teaching and learning tool.

Facilitator: Rob McAdams, director, Partners in the Arts

Slow Storytelling

Participants will learn elements of the community-based “slow journalism” curriculum taught in the University of Richmond Journalism department.

This workshop is the foundation for the course where participants will develop their multimedia storytelling skills by using the Out of Eden Walk project as a model. Participants will learn to build compelling narratives using a full range of skills: story development, research, interviewing and writing. Participants will also look to build global cultural literacy through engagement with the themes, and factual content (culture, history, geography, anthropology, environmental science, politics) of the Out of Eden Walk.

Facilitator: Don Belt, adjunct instructor, veteran National Geographic writer and editor

Seeing, Sketching, Mapping

Participants will develop the tools and confidence to engage students in sketching and drawing as a means for engaging in the world around them, telling their own stories, and connecting classroom content. Discover the value and purpose of drawing when learning, exploring, and capturing community histories and stories. Amplify observation skills to develop a keen eye to detail which is essential in drawing and communicating ideas and unique perspectives visually.

Facilitator: Jared Boggess, illiustrator

Boggess is an illustrator based in Richmond. His artwork for magazines, books and personal projects is emotive and often filled with allegory that points to his stubborn belief that the world is on an upswing in spite of and in response to the current state of affairs.

Day 2: Wednesday
Digital Video Creation

This is a hands-on workshop to teach professional skills and concepts that can help in the creation of digital videos as a means for capturing and telling community and individual stories. Concepts and skills include: research techniques, learning to shoot for editing, proper audio recording and overall video structure. Participants will create a video based on their specific discipline or theme. They will research, operate a video camera, interview (on camera) and edit a short video. Participants may bring the digital equipment they use, such as an iPad, but it is not required.

Facilitator: Mason Mills, senior producer/director for The Community Idea Stations

Mills is currently working on documentaries and has produced many locally and nationally distributed programs including Alzheimer’s: The Caregiver’s Perspective, Polytrauma Rehab in the VA: Compassionate Care and Wilder: An American First. Mason recently worked in Richmond CenterStage’s Genworth BrightLights Education Center, teaching several video classes and workshops for middle and high school students. Mason has won national recognition over his thirty years of broadcast experience by earning Emmy, Telly, and Communicator awards. He also taught as an adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University for 20 years.

Online Community Stories in StoryMapJS

StoryMapJS is a free tool, developed by the KnightLab, to help you tell stories on the web that highlight the locations of a series of events, and tell community stories. Participants may bring their own laptops or devices (iPads, etc.) but it is not required, as this session will be held in the computer lab.

Facilitator: Ryan Brazell, liaison, Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology (CTLT)

From Italy to San Francisco and less glamorous points in between, Ryan has a decade of experience supporting faculty use of technology, especially WordPress. He sees education as a tool for social justice, and actively supports community-building initiatives both in and out of the office. Ryan has a B.A. with majors in English and History from Oberlin College (2005).

Day 3: Thursday
Research through the Digital Scholarship Lab

This session will showcase research on the our neighborhoods and communities through the Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL). DSL projects such as Redlining Richmond use mapping to visualize and explore a variety of topics and policies that inform how our communities look through the lense of data in US history.

Walk About

Don Belt will join educators as they explore UR’s campus to collect images sounds stories to create compelling narratives and a digital artifacts for their maps.

Partners in the Arts
Phone: (804) 955-4012

Robert S. McAdams, MFA

Katie Fauth
Program Coordinator

UR Downtown
626 E. Broad St., Ste. 100
Richmond, VA 23219

Why the Joan Oates Institute?