Creation of a multi-campus Coalition of Excellence in Digital Storytelling comprised of a newly emerging transdisciplinary collective of University of Colorado (UC) researchers, educators, and students, and Colorado-based community leaders with expertise in digital storytelling. A digital story is a first-person video with audio narration, photographs and background music. Digital stories have therapeutic value for storytellers and a range of possibilities for creating health equity, behavioral change, economic justice and recruiting youth leaders in community initiatives. The Coalition will provide analysis, development and assessment of digital stories as policy interventions at university, national and global levels. Digital storytellers associated with the Coalition will help influence or pass laws that impact the lives of Latinos, African Americans and other economically disenfranchised groups in Colorado. Membership is open to UC researchers, educators and students (graduate and undergraduate) with an active digital storytelling research program and community members who have participated in one or more digital storytelling workshops in 2008 or later and who integrate or have the desire to integrate digital storytelling in their policy advocacy.
Marty Otañez (marty[dot]otanez[at]ucdenver[dot]edu) initiated the Coalition in summer 2010. He is an assistant professor of political ecology in the anthropology department at the University of Colorado. His research and advocacy focus on digital health stories, immigrant experiences in the Rocky Mountain region, and tobacco industry strategies to harm workers and ecologies at the farm level in tobacco growing developing countries. He produced the videos “Up In Smoke” (2003) about tobacco farmers and global tobacco companies in Malawi that aired on BBC TV in fall 2003, and “120,000 Lives” (2005) co-produced with Stanton Glantz about smoking in youth rated movies. The World Health Organization retained Marty as an expert consultant on the WHO Study Group on Economically Sustainable Alternatives to Tobacco Growing for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. In April 2010, American Anthropologist, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Anthropological Association, published a complimentary review of Marty’s visual work and blog www.sidewalkradio.net.
Chris Renda holds her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Innovation with a focus on technology integration in education. Her research interests include exploring processes to deepen learning experiences by making reflection explicit, particularly through digital storytelling. She is also interested in developing novel methods to evaluate and measure the outcomes of digital storytelling efforts in diverse research settings. In her current work, Chris builds on her experience in the areas of program evaluation, community and stakeholder involvement, corporate management, and environmental consulting. She continues to expand her research agenda related to digital storytelling through her work as a professional research assistant with the Coalition for Excellence in Digital Storytelling.