Dissertation

This dissertation is focused on understanding the impact and potential of digital storytelling as a social change strategy. Digital stories are often about personal, lived experiences, and some digital storytelling workshops focus on advocacy, for example, so that the resulting digital stories from a group can be shared together to influence public policy.

Sketch of a participant in a Skype interview.

From January–May 2019, I conducted 33 video elicitation and semi-structured interviews with 34 key informants working in the arts, health care, social services, and digital storytelling facilitation sectors, across eleven countries over Skype. The video elicitation phase included a screening of three digital stories created by former youth in foster care who “aged-out”. Following this, I asked participants to discuss their multidisciplinary perspectives on the stories in a semi-structured, one-on-one interview.

My interest in this research topic is three-fold: I have lived experience as an adoptee; I am a digital media artist and have created artistic works in video installations and documentary video; and I am interested in learning about multidisciplinary adult perspectives on digital stories to study the impact of this medium on their work.

The results of this study will be shared widely, and primarily with: the youth participants who created the videos, with adult participants in this study who are interested in reviewing a summary of the study, with my dissertation committee, and with research partners at the Adoption Council of Canada, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). I hope that this research will increase awareness about the experiences that youth in the Canadian adoption and foster care system face, as well as provide insights on the multidisciplinary perspectives and similarities across professions, on the medium of digital storytelling as a platform for this population of youth storytellers.

A map of video-elicitation interviews completed between Jan–May, 2019.

Dissertation Committee

Supervisor

Dr. Sarah Flicker, Associate Professor and Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning), Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

Committee Members

Dr. Allison Crawford, Psychiatrist and Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, and Director of the Northern Psychiatric Outreach Program and Telepsychiatry at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Dr. Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof, Assistant Professor, School of Image Arts, Ryerson University

Dr. Steve Bailey, Associate Professor, Faculty of Humanities, York University, and York & Ryerson Joint Graduate Program in Communication & Culture, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies