StoryCorps Partnership Kicks Off This Term

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Editor’s Note: The Dialogue Project event with StoryCorps has been rescheduled for April 3

Samantha Palermo and Malcolm Mahoney
Samantha Palermo ’24 and Malcolm Mahoney ’26 talk across a table at the Starr Instructional Studio in Berry Library on Feb. 2 as StoryCorps staffers Stephanie Glaros, center left, and Diane Bezucha facilitate and record the conversation. (Photo by Robert Gill)

A three-year collaboration between Dartmouth and StoryCorps’ One Small Step program will kick off later this month with a conversation and Q&A featuring President Sian Leah Beilock and Dave Isay, StoryCorps founder and president. 

At the event, Beilock and Isay will discuss the collaboration and how to get involved. Their conversation is set for 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 28 in Cook Auditorium. A reception will follow in the atrium of the Irving Institute building.

The partnership is part of Dartmouth Dialogues—specifically the Dialogue Project initiative that provides intentional training in collaborative dialogue skills. The goal is to demonstrate how to build bridges on university and college campuses.

One Small Step brings people with different perspectives together, two at a time, to record a 50-minute conversation about their lives—with the aim of reducing animosity and dehumanization across political divides by forging new bonds of connection and trust.

President Beilock says Dartmouth is enthusiastic about forming the first One Small Step institution-wide partnership with a college or university.

“We are excited to be partnering with StoryCorps and taking advantage of their time-tested methodology for promoting respectful conversation and connection, even in the presence of strong political disagreement,” says Beilock, who announced the partnership in her inaugural address last fall. “The Dialogue Project is designed to strengthen dialogue skills on campus and ultimately in the world as Dartmouth graduates become the next generation of leaders across fields and disciplines.”

StoryCorps staff recorded some student conversations during a campus visit earlier this month.

Since its founding in 2003, StoryCorps has helped more than 655,000 people in the U.S. record interviews about their lives. The recordings are collected in the Library of Congress, and select stories are broadcast weekly on NPR to more than 11 million listeners and shared through a podcast, animated shorts, digital platforms, and books. 

One Small Step’s scientific and systematic approach is supported by a group of advisers that include scientists, researchers, and psychologists. To date, nearly 5,000 people across 40 states have recorded One Small Step interviews.

Isay is a New York Times bestselling author, the recipient of numerous Peabody Awards, and a 2000 MacArthur Fellow. In 2015, he was recognized with the $1 million TED prize, awarded annually to one exceptional individual with a creative, bold vision to spark global change.

Dave Isay
Dave Isay, the founder and president of StoryCorps, will be on campus at the Feb. 28 event. (Photo by Harvey Wang)

Isay says that the collaboration with Dartmouth comes at a time of growing political polarization, as the nation “is up against a multibillion-dollar hate industrial complex that profits from turning us against one another.”

“It’s not a problem that Dartmouth and StoryCorps can solve alone, but given the moment, we feel a moral obligation to give it everything we’ve got,” he says. “We are deeply grateful to have Dartmouth and its visionary president, Sian Leah Beilock, as partners in this crucial work.”

Over the course of the next three years, Dartmouth students, alumni, faculty, and staff will have the opportunity to take part in the conversations, some of which will be produced as stories for distribution on campus and beyond. The conversations will be facilitated and recorded by StoryCorps staff and Dartmouth community members who receive training from the nonprofit.

StoryCorps staff will lead and oversee the program, with advisory direction from the Dialogue Project’s steering committee and co-directors Elizabeth F. Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Kristi Clemens, the project’s director of student and staff initiatives.

“We are thrilled to welcome StoryCorps as a Dialogue Project partner,” Clemens says. “One Small Step offers a wonderful opportunity for our community members to practice, model, and listen to collaborative dialogue—strengthening vital skills that will make a difference at Dartmouth and beyond for years to come.”


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