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Books, Movies, and Civic Engagement: Learning through Transmedia Storytelling

6/20/16 to 6/24/16


While we are not currently accepting applications for this program, we encourage you to contact us with any questions at or 800-545-1849.

What You Will Learn

Explore transmedia storytelling — telling a single story across multiple media platforms — as a means to help students engage with challenging cultural issues of civic responsibility, diversity, and social justice. You will emerge with valuable instructional strategies that will help your students experience stories and media more critically and help you (or your faculty) lead group discussions of controversial issues in sensitive and supportive ways.

Program Overview

The explosion of books across genres being adapted for the screen (e.g., biography, dystopia, historical fiction) has created exciting new opportunities to employ transmedia storytelling in support of student learning and development. In this program, you will learn to engage your students in substantive civic issues, such as equity, social justice, and diversity, in ways that are aligned with standards in language arts, social studies, and history. Discover new ways to motivate students’ engagement with fundamental 21st-century skills, including discussion and debate, identifying and evaluating evidence, and constructing and delivering convincing arguments. 

In this one-of-a-kind experience, you will learn from HGSE faculty, senior leaders of media companies, filmmakers, and other content creators. Activities will include plenary sessions, small group discussions, film screenings, and protocols for dialogic instruction — informal conversation between students and teachers to stimulate thinking and advance understanding. You will examine issues and stories that are relevant to today’s students in a variety of workshops, studios, and lab exercises as you explore ways different content platforms can tell the same (or similar) stories.

Related News

New Professional Ed Program Highlights Transmedia Storytelling
Harvard EdCast: Books, Movies, and Civic Engagement

Program Objectives

This program will focus on several guiding questions, including:

  • What is meant by media literacy? How can educators and students view media more critically and evaluate the merit of stories told on different content platforms?
  • How can transmedia storytelling help students to see, comprehend, and reflect on the civic and moral changes taking place in the world around them today?
  • What theories stand behind using transmedia storytelling with students?
  • What does research tell us about how working across media platforms enhances student learning?
  • How can digital technology sustain our own learning and interaction with each other starting before and lasting beyond the time we spend at Harvard?
Who Should Attend
  • Teachers and other leaders who work directly with youth
  • Librarians and media directors
  • Department heads, curriculum designers, and educators developing instructional materials
  • Principals
  • District-, state-, and national-level leaders
  • Instructors in out-of-school learning settings
  • Media program designers
  • Engaged and invested parents
  • School and district-level teams are encouraged to attend

Faculty Chairs

Joe Blatt, senior lecturer on education and faculty director, Technology, Innovation, and Education Program, HGSE

Robert Selman, Roy Edward Larsen professor of education and human development, HGSE, and professor of psychology, Harvard Medical School

Randy Testa, former vice president of education and professional development, Walden Media

Tracy Elizabeth, doctoral candidate in Human Development and Education at HGSE


Tonya Lewis Lee, writer, producer, advocate, entrepreneur, and chief creator of Tonik Productions

Nikki Silver, producer and chief creator of Tonik Productions



Step One

You will be asked to provide your personal profile and organizational information.

Step Two

  1. Explain how participation in the program will benefit your work and describe one or more significant challenges you would like to explore during the program. (250 word limit)
  2. In what ways do you expect your particular skills, experience and perspective to contribute to group discussions? (250 word limit)


Identify Your Team Coordinator

  • Before beginning the application process, you will need to identify a team coordinator.
  • The coordinator will be the primary point of contact during the application process and preparation for the program.
  • The coordinator does not need to attend the program and will have the opportunity to indicate if they will be attending during the application process.

The Application Process

  1. A team application to be completed once by the coordinator.
    Please note that the team coordinator should only complete one application in total.
  2. A team member application to be completed by each member of your team.
  • In order for your team to be considered for review by the admissions committee, each team member will need to complete the team member application. The coordinator will receive a link to the team member application once the team application is complete.
  • Once started, the team application must be completed in a single session. It should take 15–20 minutes to complete.
  • A list of required questions will be provided at the beginning of the team application.
Fees, Hotel Accommodations, and Policies

The comprehensive tuition includes all instructional materials and refreshments. Participants receive a certificate of participation and a letter confirming clock hours of instruction.

Payment or a purchase order must be received within thirty days of program acceptance and prior to the program start. Participants are responsible for their own travel expenses. While a purchase order confirms a reservation, an outstanding balance is maintained until payment is rendered. If funds are unable to be processed within these guidelines, a documented payment plan is to be sent via mail, e-mail, or fax, and received two weeks prior to the program start date.

Please click here for more information on hotel accommodations for on-campus programs.

Please click here for more information on our on-campus and online refund and withdrawal policies. If you have any additional questions or concerns about your ability to participate, please contact our admissions team at or 1-800-545-1849.

The Harvard Graduate School of Education reserves the right to change faculty or cancel programs at its discretion. In the unlikely event of program changes, the school is not responsible for non-refundable travel arrangements or other planning expenses incurred.

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