As a company whose heritage is rooted in the art of storytelling and championing student success, Barnes & Noble College is hoping to highlight both with its latest partnership. As a sponsor of The Great Thanksgiving Listen 2016, the Company is supporting StoryCorps in their national education program to both honor the essential societal role played by teachers, and to empower high school and college students to create their own oral history of the contemporary United States.
Founded in 2003, StoryCorps is a non-profit organization whose mission is to record, preserve, and share the stories of Americans from all backgrounds and beliefs. “When I started StoryCorps 13 years ago, I wanted to give everyday people the chance to be listened to and leave a record of their lives for future generations,” explains founder David Isay. “It’s always been a very simple idea: Find someone you want to honor with an interview; a grandparent, a sibling, a mentor, or a friend; sit across from them for 40 minutes; ask important questions and listen carefully to their answers,” he says.
The Great Thanksgiving Listen has been designed to encourage high school and college students to record an interview with an elder over Thanksgiving weekend using the StoryCorps App. Interviews are then entered into the StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Last year, teachers and students worked together in a pilot program with thousands of high schools participating from all 50 states, recording over 50,500 individual conversations, “This year, StoryCorps will continue to work with educators around the country to preserve the voices and stories of an entire generation of Americans, over a single holiday weekend,” Isay explains.
The decision for Barnes & Noble College to partner with StoryCorps was an easy one, explains Cynthia Zimmer, Director of Corporate Marketing for Barnes & Noble College. “We had the pleasure of hosting Dave at two client events earlier this year in support of his book, Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work, and the response was overwhelming. It was clear, Dave truly understands and honors the place all of higher education has in supporting and guiding student success,” she says.
To help Barnes & Noble College’s network of 270,000 faculty use the program in their classrooms, the Company has developed a free, downloadable Faculty Toolkit containing everything to help encourage students to plan and develop their own story interviews.
With help from sponsors like Barnes & Noble College, StoryCorps hopes that The Great Thanksgiving Listen 2016 will only build on the tradition and importance of sharing stories and narratives for a whole generation of students. “Following the 2015 TGTL, we talked to teachers about their and their students’ experiences, and 99 percent told us that they would both participate again in the years to come — and recommend participation to another teacher,” Isay says. In addition, 92 percent of the participants observed increased connectedness amongst students, families and communities, while 74 percent said the program inspired an increased interest in learning from their students. “Nothing close to this scale has ever been achieved before in the history of oral history, and those numbers are driving us to make the 2016 TGTL even bigger and better,” he says.
Joining the ranks of co-sponsors for the project, including TED, The Library of Congress and a host of educational partners, Barnes & Noble College is launching the program to students, faculty and campus partners today. “This partnership aligns directly with our mission to be a complete support system for students, faculty and the entire campus community,” Zimmer says. “The Great Thanksgiving Listen is the perfect way to begin this year-long opportunity to better understand ourselves — and our collective world.”
For more information, visit www.bncollege.com/faculty, and share your interviews by tagging #TheGreatListen and @StoryCorps.