Students in Spring 2022 Social Impact Studio in theatre

Transforming Narratives of Gun Violence through Journalism and Theatre in Spring Social Impact Studios

Thursday, February 23, 2023

This semester, our Social Impact Studios will use journalism, theatre, and documentary filmmaking to transform narratives of gun violence in Boston in conjunction with community partners. (If you missed our introduction of the Collaborative Documentary Studio, you can read our interview with community partner Will Dunn of Boston Uncornered here.)

Topics in Advanced Reporting: Grassroots Journalism and Community Media Professor: Gino Canella

“Why are you here?” 

This was the question that shaped the conversation on the first day of class for this semester’s Social Impact Studio in journalism. Students’ answers ranged from honing their journalistic skills, to the impact of gun violence hitting close to home, to just being tired of feeling helpless and wanting to learn how to make a difference. Sophia Pargas takes it a step further by talking about dehumanizing media coverage and describes the class as “a good step in the right direction in being the change” that is needed in the media.

In the spirit of partnership and collaboration that is embodied in the studios, this course affords students the opportunity to work with local journalists and community partners to produce multimedia stories about gun violence. The class critically examines mainstream coverage of incidents of gun violence to identify the deep rooted practices that harm the victims. Professor Canella, the studio’s instructor, notes that the aim is not just to improve coverage but also relationships between the communities and newsrooms. 

In addition to the journalistic skills that will be taught in the class, the students will also learn how to navigate their roles as informed, responsible emerging journalists  while remaining  emotional, empathetic humans. 

Transforming Narratives of Gun Violence Through Performance Professor: Dana Edell

In this course, students will learn and use a variety of theatre techniques to address some of the root causes of gun violence. Professor Edell, whose professional background has centered on activist performance methods, sees the Social Impact Studio as a chance to create “equitable partnerships that reach beyond the classroom.” The students are afforded the opportunity to work with grassroots organizations, who attend the classes each week, and work with them as core collaborators. 

Current student, Fiona Brown, describes the class as “accommodating” and “collaborative” in nature, while also giving room for imaginative thinking. 

The students will also have the opportunity to write, create, and perform trauma-informed collaborative theatre, and Brown is relishing the challenge.

“I have always loved devising, it is inspirational to create a project from the ground up with equal contributions from all members. I hope to continue to be imaginative in this theoretical sandbox as we create original work. I want to stay curious as we build on these traditionally unconventional projects.” 


Sharon-Hephzibah Mohie, ELab Writing Assistant