Defining Writing & Change

We see writing for change as any act of composing that contributes, even in unexpected or small ways, to some kind of active change – in  communities, places, groups, or individual people.


The project is dedicated to helping youth think about how writing can bring about CHANGE. That is, how can their work have impact for themselves and on others?


We define writing very broadly—this can include traditional textual forms (essays, narratives, poems) and more arts and media oriented textual forms (digital stories, movies, films, image, music, etc.). Writing is a form of composing, as people use and intermix modes like written text, video, audio, and image (e.g., writing a report, creating a documentary, making a digital story, composing a poem, setting poetry to music, podcasting, interviewing, etc.) to create something new and impactful. We have a number of visualization tools that we will introduce to help young people learn to write for broader, global audiences and measure the impact of their writing on those audiences.


We leave it to individual teachers to decide what constitutes ‘change’ or ‘social action’ in their contexts (and indeed, we are interested in learning more about how these ideas get defined over time in the community). For some of our partners, change is oriented to the individual, and the writing that young people engage in is designed to help them focus on their inner selves, their goals and aspirations, and their emotional, psychological, or artistic journeys. For other partners, change is about creating societal movement, whether in bringing about more just outcomes for marginalized populations (e.g., improving girls’ education) or undoing injustices witnessed in local, national, or global communities (e.g., fighting against child marriage or helping refugees). We imagine there will be great variation in how people think of writing as/for change.


Here are some examples of how we see writing and change happening around us:


How Wolves Change Rivers

Food Empowerment Project