Counter Narratives: Songs and Stories Across Cultures


Spring 2015 quarter

Taught by

music composition
teacher education, critical pedagogy

Counter narratives are personal stories that alter our understanding of dominant cultural narratives. Detailed descriptions of the particular and the local convey unique personal experiences. Storytelling, songs, biographies, and ethnographies all enable us to engage imaginatively in the lives and experiences of people from different cultures, times, and places.  Such counter narratives can document the daily encounters of marginalized people, generate knowledge, and build community. They can expand our understanding of reality, and help us to imagine future possibilities. The stories of young people who understand more than one culture through personal experience often undermine older ideas of social identity. Counter narratives can point us toward a future in which people from diverse cultural backgrounds can co-exist peacefully and learn from one another. 

How can different forms of literacy such as music or songs, media, and popular culture help generate counter narratives? In this unique and collaborative program between two institutions of higher education, Evergreen and Daejeon University in Korea, we will begin to investigate what it means to understand and tell our own stories, across different cultural domains, through music, storytelling, and learning in community. This program will also serve as an opportunity to support students developing more complex language skills through everyday encounters with each other. Evergreen students who engage with the participating group of visiting Korean students in their English language studies will acquire skills in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). 

How can examining and sharing stories enable us to develop greater social and academic language skills? Students will mentor each other and collaborate on in-class projects, including ethnographies, story-telling and songwriting workshops, lectures and seminars on films, books, and works of art, field trips and nature walks in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and other individual and small group creative and scholarly projects. Students in this program may earn credit in cultural studies and humanities, musicianship and story-telling, writing and language studies. 


Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

ESL (English as a Second Language), English teaching abroad, international education and cultural exchanges, international studies, Asian Studies, music, and education.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Required Fees

$250 for an overnight field trip to the Blues Festival in Pacific City, Oregon.

Special Expenses

$75 for an ukulele and digital tuner.

May be offered again in

Spring 2016


Date Revision
April 21st, 2014 $250 fee and $75 special expense added.
March 28th, 2014 New opportunity added.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Junior–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25


Course Reference Number

Jr - Sr (16 credits): 30228

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