Welcome to the Transforming Narratives of Gun Violence Initiative!
About our Initiative
Through collaborative storytelling that brings together a leading media and communication college with those closest to the problem of gun violence in Boston, we seek to inspire solutions and interrupt cycles of violence.
The Engagement Lab at Emerson College has partnered with the Gun Violence Prevention Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute in a three-year initiative to transform narratives of gun violence.
Through this collaboration, students and faculty at Emerson are coming alongside individuals and organizations deeply connected to the issue of gun violence locally, to explore together the impact of dominant narratives and to co-create story-based solutions through arts, media, and communications.
How We’re Doing This
Social Impact Studios
Multi-disciplinary studio classes at Emerson College work alongside community partners to understand the roots and impacts of gun violence narratives in media and co-create interventions through place-based media art, participatory documentary, storytelling, performing arts, and journalism. Through a collaborative design approach, this initiative centers those most impacted by the effects of gun violence in the exploration and creation of narrative interventions to restore urgency, dignity, and humanity to this pervasive issue. While students gain a deeper understanding from those directly impacted by the issue, community participants have the opportunity to gain new skills, have their stories heard, and ultimately co-create media which will be theirs to use that is personally meaningful and useful to their goals.
We host community conversations to bridge the knowledge-learning gap between communities and the college. These conversations take on many different forms, including film screenings with facilitated discussions, community-based focus groups, and project showcases for the community to interact with created media. These conversations are critical to anchor the learning and impact outside of the institution—to further our collective understanding of the impact of dominant narratives in local communities, to identify opportunities for narrative intervention, and to expand the use of media artifacts created in the studios.
The initiative is directed by a multi-sector group of leaders with a stake in the outcomes of the studios. In addition to Emerson administration and faculty, representatives from Mass General Hospital, The Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, the Center for Teen Empowerment, and other community groups are central to decision-making about new studios and related efforts.