OHIO’s Barbara Geralds Institute to Combine Storytelling, Academic Study

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Barbara Geralds Institute for Storytelling and Social Impact has been established in the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University and was approved by the Ohio University Board of Trustees on Friday, June 26. The institute is named for its primary benefactor and will both create stories with social impact and study storytelling from inception to delivery through its various forms. An opening and screening is planned for Sept. 10.

“The creation of the institute will provide an important vehicle that will elevate the work of our faculty, staff, and students,” said Scripps College of Communication Dean Scott Titsworth. “The research, creative, and outreach activities of our college will be greatly enhanced through this work. We are extremely proud to have one of the only institutes of its kind be part of our college, and we are grateful to Barbara Geralds for helping us realize this vision.”

Barbara Geralds has made a $1.1M commitment to the institute: $100,000 to cover startup costs, and $1M to support the program in perpetuity. She is a longtime supporter of the college and also endowed a named professorship, the Barbara Schoonover Professor of Health Communication in the School of Communication Studies.

The Storytelling Institute’s mission is to create and tell stories that have social relevance and impact and to research all aspects of storytelling from inception, delivery through diverse means, and personal and public reactions to stories.

The institute will be co-directed by School of Communication Studies Professor Lynn Harter and the Joe Berman Professor of Communication and WOUB Public Media Director and General Manager Tom Hodson. Harter says the institute will involve faculty and students in the production and analysis of stories, foster inter-disciplinary research to advance knowledge about storytelling, partner with private industry and non-profit organizations on interest-based projects, and collaborate with experts in virtual and augmented reality to create new methods of storytelling. Already, the institute has partnered with WOUB on documentary projects and more are planned.

“I am grateful for Barbara’s support of our vision and belief in our capacity to execute these goals,” she said. “The importance of her generosity cannot be overstated. The institute will enlarge the scope and social significance of the storytelling efforts already underway in the Scripps College of Communication, and I am honored to help lead its activities.”

The Storytelling Institute will utilize traditional storytelling forms such as radio broadcast, documentary film, photography and theater productions as well as innovative storytelling forms such as audio podcasts, digital simulations and holographic images.

“I am excited to be part of this cutting-edge endeavor,” said Hodson. “This institute is unique. It combines high-quality storytelling with an academic component that researches the social impacts of stories and narratives.”

Evan Shaw, a producer/director at WOUB Public Media will serve as the institute’s chief videographer. In addition, an advisory council of both faculty and staff across the university has been formed. For more information on the institute, visit www.ohio.edu/scrippscollege/schoolsandcenters/barbara-geralds-schoonover-institute.cfm.

To make a gift to support the Barbara Geralds Institute for Storytelling and Social Impact, contact Senior Director of Development Robin Stock at stockr@ohio.edu.