The Under-Told Stories Project is excited to announce an upcoming collaboration with the Center for the Common Good at the University of St. Thomas.

The Under-Told Stories Project uses high quality video storytelling to help students understand and engage with the pressing global issues of our time, to make the foreign less foreign. With the Center’s support, Under-Told Stories’ documentaries, broadcast on the highly respected PBS NewsHour, along with related web-based content, will serve as a classroom resource for students and educators.

Under-Told Stories Director and PBS NewsHour Special Correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro said the collaboration is a natural fit for the Project’s reports, which focus on the work of social innovators across the world and are branded on PBS as Agents for Change stories.

“Our narratives are driven by strong characters, telling stories about ‘real people in real life,’” he said. “That adds a powerful dimension to learning and we look forward to expanding our collaboration with the academic community to help develop and utilize our work as a resource in the classroom.”

Through the lens of changemaking, the Center for the Common Good will help disseminate the Project’s more than 250 short documentaries in curricula and organizations at St. Thomas and other ASHOKA U universities. Learning modules leveraging extended interviews and behind-the-scenes content will give classrooms a window into real world examples of change in under-reported communities around the world.

“There are several phases of getting [students] prepared to really be a social innovator,” St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan said. “There’s no better way to start down that path than being exposed to the Under-Told Stories Project.”

“The Under-Told Stories project allows professors to bring global insights into their lectures and provides a path to link it to local concerns,” said Theresa Ricke-Kiely, executive director of the Center for Common Good. “These stories help students better understand the world, some of the challenges we face, and allows for deep discussions on how they may contribute to advance the common good.”

Deb Besser, director of the Center for Engineering Education and chair of civil engineering, is an early adapter of the Under-Told Stories content and said it was the best way to engage her students.

“This content is gold,” Besser said. “The greatest value in using storytelling is it’s the highest level of engagement when talking with students. … It was probably the richest conversation we’ve had in the class.”

Maren Mosley, a student in Besser’s Civil Engineering Ethics course, said seeing real-world examples of how engineering can impact lives changed the way she looked at her work.

“It’s definitely opened my eyes to things I need to keep in mind as a professional engineer and as a person in general, just how my work will affect the communities,” Mosely said.

In the future, Under-Told Stories and the Center for Common Good will co-host events and pursue further engagement with ASHOKA Changemaker Campuses and courses.

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