Scripps College to open cutting-edge institute for storytelling, social impact

(File photo by Alex Goodlet)

In addition to naming new residence halls and making budgetary decisions at its June 26 meeting, Ohio University’s Board of Trustees also approved the creation of a new institute that will focus on the storytelling and social impact of communication.

The Barbara Geralds Schoonover Institute for Storytelling and Social Impact aims to “combine the practical art of storytelling with the academic study of narrative activity,” according to its purpose statement in the June Board of Trustees agenda.

The institute is being funded by its benefactor, Barbara Geralds Schoonover, who donated $100,000 to the startup cost and an additional $1 million to support the program “in perpetuity.”

The institute plans to cover an extensive amount of communication media, from radio and television to holographic images and digital simulations, according to a university news release.

The institute will open Sept. 10 and have space in Scripps Hall. The WOUB Center for Public Media will also offer its facilities and equipment for the institute’s use, eliminating the cost of purchasing equipment, according to the Board of Trustees agenda.

“The research, creative and outreach activities of our college will be greatly enhanced through this work,” Scripps College of Communication Dean Scott Titsworth said in the news release.

The two co-directors of the institute are Lynn Harter, an award-winning filmmaker and professor of communication studies, and Tom Hodson, director and general manager of WOUB. Hodson is also the Joe Berman Professor of Communication in the Scripps College and previously served as the director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism from 2003 to 2010.

Evan Shaw, a producer and director at WOUB, will serve as the institute’s chief videographer, according to the news release.

Hodson said that although the institute will be of benefit to journalists, its programs will not exclusively study journalistic storytelling but rather a larger spectrum of narratives.

“Athens for Bernie Sanders” met for the first time last month in support of the presidential candidate.

“(The institute) will use documentaries and podcasts as well as other video and audio forms along with text,” Hodson said. “It will use traditional storytelling techniques and also it will work with faculty and students to explore new and inventive techniques.”



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