Building Your Change-Agent Toolkit: The Power of Story

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Publication Date



“Once upon a time…”

“Long ago, in a land far, far away…”

Stories have been an important part of how humans remember their past and hope for a bright future long before we created written language. Telling our lived stories and listening to others’ stories are part of how we make sense of our lives and build our communities. It is no wonder that stories hold us in such thrall and have power in our relationships and organizations. Both listening to and telling stories are important skills for engineering educators and change agents at any career stage. Listening to the stories others tell provides an important glimpse into the values, beliefs, and assumptions made by those in the organization, and help us make sense of how our own stories fit into a given community. For example, a faculty member new to a department or a dean new to a college may be seeking allies to support an innovative curricular change; careful parsing of the stories told by others in the department or college may indicate who will be supportive and who is likely to only give lip service. Over time, changing the stories told, as well as telling new stories, shifts the assumptions of a group and how concepts turn into meaning.


Integrated Engineering

Publication Title

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition