Community-Sourced Pedagogies

The Engaged Learning Program integrates pedagogical approaches developed in community-based settings into the academy.  Examples are story circles (Emory Telling Our Stories Project) and Pre-Texts workshops (a highly flexible train-the trainers program with basic elements emerging from community settings in Latin America). 

Emory Telling Our Stories 

An Emory Telling Our Stories event is usually organized around a prominent speaker, involves a meal, has at least 40 participants (and can be many more), is intentionally diverse with regard to participants’ roles at Emory (a mix of faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, staff, administrators), and has at its center facilitated story circles modeled on the story circle developed by Roadside Theater and further adapted by the national consortium Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life.  Participants listen to an exchange with the guest speaker, which ends with the speaker responding to a prompt that elicits a story, then story circles with 6-8 people are facilitated by trained Emory undergraduates.  Initially part of the Coalition of the Liberal Arts, Emory Telling Our Stories is a project that the Engaged Learning Program supports in collaboration with the IDEAS (Interdisciplinary Exploration and Scholarship) Fellows Program. The use of story circles as an engaged teaching strategy is part of the portfolio of community engaged learning pedagogy training offered through the Engaged Learning Program. 

Pre-Texts Workshops 

In collaboration with the Cultural Agents Initiative, Emory’s Engaged Learning Program offers Pre-Texts workshops.  Initially developed by Professor Doris Sommer of Harvard University Pre-Texts is a highly flexible train-the-trainers program that is grounded in community arts and organizing strategies gleaned from Latin American contexts. At the heart of Pre-Texts is a profound respect for the text, for words, for stories told artfully, and for a degree of difficulty, that “offers the pleasure of challenges that ignite the imagination” (Sommer, The Work of Art in the World), and the just as profound conviction that engagement with these texts through mutual appreciation and respect sparks civic agency and full participation.

As a member of the core team of Capacity Builders for Pre-Texts, the Director of Engaged Learning Vialla Hartfield-Méndez has created Pre-Texts workshops for faculty and graduate students, inviting the use of the Pre-Texts approach in their classrooms and other settings.  We also facilitate workshops to engage faculty, students and staff with local community partners, especially K-12 school partners.