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Social Impact Studios

Social Impact Studios, facilitated by the Engagement Lab, give Emerson students and faculty the opportunity to work directly with local grassroots changemakers to co-create media projects that will make an impact in Boston and beyond. Studios have been offered in documentary filmmaking, theatre, journalism, game design, virtual reality, and more, in addition to the foundations course Co-Design Studio, which is designed to prepare students to work with community partners in future studios.

Starting in Fall 2023, we will be offering Social Impact Studios in two initiatives:

☮️ Transforming Narratives of Gun Violence
🌱 Transforming Narratives for Climate Justice

Make an impact. Register for a Social Impact Studio for the fall semester!

Foundations Course

Co-Design Studio (SI200)

Spring Semester

Instructor:  Eric Gordon, Ph.D.

Class time: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10am-11:45am

The Co-Design Studio is an immersive course on co-design methodology and theory intended for students interested in equitably engaging with a variety of stakeholders in the creation process. The course will equip students with the design concepts, methods, and project management tools to effectively collaborate with partner organizations such as municipal government, nonprofit organizations, and grassroots community groups. It will introduce students from a range of academic backgrounds to the theory and practice of collaboration, the importance of power and positionality, and the value of dynamic and engaging design methods. Case studies, interactive in-class group activities, and group work will compose the experience.

Please contact Eric Gordon at for more information.

2023 - 2024 Studios

☮️ Transforming Narratives of Gun Violence Through Performance (TH372 / TH667 / SI300)

Fall Semester

Instructor:  Dana Edell, Ph.D.

Class times: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12pm to 1:45pm.

In this unique course, students will learn and use a variety of applied theatre techniques to partner with local community-based, anti-violence organizations in order to transform the dominant narratives related to gun violence in the United States today. Students will learn how theatre artists have used their skills and creativity to address root causes of gun violence, such as systemic racism, poverty, and toxic masculinity. We will study and practice a variety of applied theatre techniques, including Theater of the Oppressed, devised performance, and theater in education. Through arts-based research, applied theatre activities, community participant interviews, personal reflection, and a long-term devising process, students will write, create and perform original, trauma-informed, collaborative theatre. This course requires students to be flexible, creative, and patient as we respond to the needs and desires of our partners. The syllabus and class projects might evolve and shift throughout the semester as we foster deeper connections with our community partners in order to create and implement mutually beneficial projects.

Please contact Dana Edell at for more information.

Preview thumbnail image for ☮️ Transforming Narratives of Gun Violence Through Performance (TH372 / TH667 / SI300) introduction video.

☮️ Collaborative Documentary Studio: Transforming Narratives of Gun Violence in Boston (VM331x20 / SI300)

Fall Semester

Instructor:  Theodore "Regge" Life

Class times: Tuesdays from 4pm-7:45pm

The Collaborative Documentary Studio invites students to co-create a non-fiction story about the impacts of violence on Boston communities. Community members will join the class each week and work alongside Emerson students to tell powerful, authentic, and purposeful stories that can impact policy and decision-making.

Please contact Theodore R. Life, for more information.

Preview thumbnail image for ☮️ Collaborative Documentary Studio: Transforming Narratives of Gun Violence in Boston (VM331x20 / SI300) introduction video.

🌱 Creative Expression for Climate Justice (VM 331x21 / SI 300)

Fall Semester

Instructors:  Paul TuranoErin Trahan

Class time: Wednesdays from 4pm to 7:45pm

The course will explore community generated solutions to local climate challenges. Through partnerships with organizations in Dorchester, class participants will collaborate with members of the community to envision strategies for dealing with extreme hot and cold climate events, air quality issues, and the benefits of green space access and nature-based solutions. Exploring a range of creative tools including creative writing, documentary film, interactive media, and performance, the course will provide students the opportunity to use expression for engagement, education, activism and social change. The course is part of the Engagement Lab's Social Impact Initiative on Climate Justice. There are no prerequisites, although we encourage students to take, or have taken, SI200 if possible.

Please contact Paul Turano at or Erin Trahan at for more information.

Preview thumbnail image for 🌱 Creative Expression for Climate Justice (VM 331x21 / SI 300) introduction video.

🌱 Future Imaginaries: Unwritten Stories of Climate Change & Sustainability (VM331x23 / IN348 / SI300)

Fall Semester

Instructors:  Jon HoneaHoma Sarabi

Class time: Thursdays from 4pm to 7:45pm

This course will focus on positive narratives about the future, examining how they can shape our expectations, actions, and outcomes in ways that more common gloom-and-doom scenarios have not. We will examine different perspectives on the future, including optimism, hope, and agency, and discuss how these ideas can inform our understanding of the world and our place in it, as well as their potential to shape public policy and social change. We will examine the role that storytelling and media play in shaping our visions of the future, and we will discuss how to craft and communicate future imaginaries that inspire hope, action, and resilience. Through readings and other resources, discussions, and presentations and projects, students will learn to develop and articulate their own positive narratives about the future.

Please contact Jon Honea at or Homa Sarabi at for more information.

Preview thumbnail image for 🌱 Future Imaginaries: Unwritten Stories of Climate Change & Sustainability (VM331x23 / IN348 / SI300) introduction video.
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