International Storytelling Center

Europa: Expanding Humanity’s Access to Storytelling

Arts and culture

ISC is democratizing storytelling, humanity’s most powerful communicative tool, through a game-based platform designed to foster a more peaceful world based on mutual cooperation.

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

We often lack the resources to understand and value difference. This deficit can lead us to ignore those around us, though at worst it stokes fear and distrust that divides communities, fueling hatred, discrimination, and violence.Storytelling is humanity’s most important tool in combating fear and distrust. The ISC is creating a platform that connects youth worldwide through a game in which players become s/heroes of peace through community storytelling. We focus on youth players, as they are at a crucial point in the development of their identity – one where they can learn to value difference rather than fear it.To complete missions, players must integrate ideas and perspectives that differ from their own. This affords an equitable place in the game for stories of historically marginalized people, one that specifically seeks to make it easier for all players to recognize the conditions that lead to inequity.

Problem Statement

We live in a new era of disruption, with conflict and human displacement outstripping the power of the international community to respond. Issues that need global cooperation, like climate change, are exacerbated by the fact that over 1.5 billion people live under threat of violent conflict. While new technologies offer the promise of a more connected world, they also raise concerns as disinformation and hate speech divide societies, disrupt democracies, and are used to incite violence. · Climate change, access to resources, and outbreaks of disease are increasingly linked to conflict and a burgeoning crisis in global governance.· Social contracts are coming into question globally as power shifts away from states and institutions to non-state networks.· Extremist ideologies are finding fertile ground in countries where large segments of society feel marginalized.· New platforms are changing social and governmental dynamics on every level, in unpredictable ways, e.g. Facebook’s “Libra” currency or Iceland’s “Pots and Pans Revolution.” These issues have not proven amenable to traditional linear or scaleable solutions. Front-line peacebuilders are bridging differences and healing communities around the world, yet we face a serious gap in how to resource peace and conflict resolution at a global level. As global conflict proliferates and increasingly affects everyone’s everyday lived experiences, our major challenge is to create systems of peace – to interconnect the full spectrum of norms, institutions, and formal and informal networks and agencies that can manage conflict before it escalates into the kind of fury that poisons future

Solution Overview

Our solution is to create a digital game-based platform where users tell and listen to stories, and build connections with others, helping their communities find real-world resources and solutions to problems they face.A story preserves identity and helps create a sense of belonging. Stories empower and enrich us; they enable us to build communities to challenge injustices and realize the power of change. Recognizing the beauty of stories helps creative expression flourish and helps us better understand the anxieties, dreams, and aspirations which are part of being human.ISC’s game-based platform, Europa, will be an unprecedented global initiative aimed at improving lives and building peace through our most fundamental connections, our shared humanity: through our shared stories.Game-based activities are powerful motivating tools for action. Connecting the game-based platform to real-world actions provides individuals and communities motivation and the practical tools to connect to others to solve problems. In five years, by extending the reach and scope of ISC through Europa, we anticipate performing a key role in altering global management of conflict and improving how problem solving initiatives are created. Society functions best when everyone has the ability to tell their story and when we commit to listening to the stories of others. Our platform takes the expertise of ISC, the world’s foremost center on storytelling, and makes it interactive and globally accessible.

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Project Funders

  • Purdue Peacebuilding Big Idea Challenge

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