PhD Dissertation

“What makes a great story?”: Multidisciplinary and international perspectives
on digital stories created by former youth in foster care in Canada

Bryn Ludlow, PhD(c)(ABD)
York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This dissertation study involved 34 video elicitation and semi-structured interviews on Skype with 35 key informants working in the arts, healthcare, social services, and digital storytelling facilitation sectors, from 11 countries. 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 perspectives on the stories in a semi-structured, one-on-one interview.

The key findings of this doctoral research study illustrate: specific criteria for creating a great story, the various levels of arts-based funding available for digital storytelling facilitators around the world, digital storytelling production techniques and facilitation strategies, and importantly, the need to share more digital stories created by youth who have aged-out of foster care. These findings aim to inform how digital storytelling facilitators can help people create stories that have high impact and value for specific audiences.

Sketch of a participant in a Skype interview.
A map of video-elicitation interviews completed between Jan–May, 2019.

Dissertation Committee


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