CFP: 9th International Digital Storytelling Conference

Story Work for a Just Future
Exploring Diverse Experiences and Methods within an International Community of Practice 

9th International Digital Storytelling Conference

Monday the 30th of March – Wednesday the 1st of April 2020
Loughborough University, UK


Call For Papers and Presentation Proposals

We invite you to join us at Loughborough University, UK, this Spring for an amazing gathering of digital storytelling professionals, academics, students, community partners, and activists.

The conference is part of a multi-institutional, multinational, two-year process and programme – organised in collaboration with StoryCenter (US), UMBC – University of Maryland Baltimore County (US), SCLDA – Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access (US), Montgomery College (US), Patient Voices (UK) – that includes a series of follow-on activities in the Washington, D.C. area and in Maryland, USA, in 2021.

The conference will host various events in its structure for inclusion of diverse perspectives and voices. In addition to academic papers, workshops, and roundtable discussions, we encourage practitioners from community settings, artists and students to contribute and express their creativity through various formats (short performances, artworks, video/audio submissions, etc.).


Storytelling has been defined as ‘the artform of social interaction’ (Wilson, 1998), not only for its inner dynamics, but also for its power to unlock grass-roots knowledge, explore dilemmas, develop community resilience, engender change.

Stories can generate empathy and trust in the audience and at the same time demonstrate their usefulness because they have the power to give meaning to human behaviors and to trigger emotions (Bourbonnais and Michaud, 2018). ‘This happens because stories are perceived as vectors of truth. They also challenge the meaning of truth itself and suggest a deeper reflection on how various perspectives embedded in personal narratives about contested themes and events can generate multiple truths’ (Liguori, 2020).
Yet we acknowledge the existence of multiple truths when we recognise, as the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie observed, ‘the danger of a single story’ (2009). As she described, ‘because our lives and our cultures are composed of a series of overlapping stories, if we hear only a single story about another person, culture, or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding’.
In a time of worrying ‘critical misunderstandings’ worldwide, we want to explore with you the value of Applied Storytelling as a tool to co-develop ‘A Just Future’.

We are interested in proposals that will explore issues related to (but not limited to) the following sub-themes:

  • [PastUnwanted legacies and key learning to carry forward: difficult pasts; traumatic transitions; post-conflict scenarios; lessons learned from our histories; place-based learning and research; reflective learning
  • [PresentUrgent story work: climate change; health; migration; social justice; education and action; deindustrialization, development, gentrification and displacement
  • [FutureSpeculative futures: building communities; crossing boundaries; human/animal and human/landscape relations; new forms of conversation; new digital environments, platforms and applications; storytelling for evaluation; curation; dissemination and storyteller safety.


All interested conference contributors are invited to share their work through six types of contributions, but we also welcome other formats.

Conference Formats: 

  • Academic paper (15 minutes)
  • Workshop (45 minutes)
  • Roundtable discussion (45 minutes)
  • Short performance (to be defined on a one-to-one basis)
  • Artwork (to be defined on a one-to-one basis)
  • Video/Audio submission
  • Other: If you think you don’t  fit into one of these formats, please email us with your idea!


Submission guidelines & key dates:

  • 250-word abstract to describe your proposal (any format)
  • Include a title, your name, email address, and affiliation if applicable
  • Submit your proposal via email to
  • Deadline for abstract submission: 15th October 2019
  • Notification of acceptance: 15th November 2019
  • Early bird registration opens: 20th November 2019
  • General Registration opens: 15th January 2019
  • Registration closes: 29th February 2020
  • Conference presentations, videos, materials to be sent in advance by 15th March 2020. Special arrangements will be made on a one-to-one basis for other formats.
  • Early bird: 180£ (80£ student rate);
  • Regular registration: 220£ (100£ student rate)
  • Digital participation: It is our intention to make digital participation possible. Please write to Sally Bellman for more information.


Included in the Registration fee are coffee and tea breaks, lunch, access to all conference sessions, social activity (performance) during the opening evening, publication of the abstract in online conference proceedings.

Additional and optional social activity (trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, Visit to Loughborough sport event, etc.) will be booked separately by each participant.

For further submission requirements, accommodation and scholarships, please write to the Storytelling Research Team at Loughborough University:

The conference committee will capture all presentations for digital conference proceedings. The conference committee will submit a book proposal in 2020 of a selection of academic contributions from the conference.

Students and community members are welcomed and encouraged to apply!  There will also be opportunities for students to participate digitally and be part of the event through various online engagement options.


Conference Chairs: Antonia Liguori and Michael Wilson (Loughborough University, UK)


Conference Committee Members: Darcy Alexandra (University of Bern, Switzerland), Jessica Berman (University of Maryland, Baltimore County UMBC, US), Bev Bickel (UMBC, US), Matthew Decker (Montgomery College, US), Lindsay DiCuirci (UMBC, US), Sara Ducey (Montgomery College, US), Daniela Gachago (Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa), Jamie Gillan (Montgomery College, US), Pip Hardy (Patient Voices, UK), Charlotte Keniston (UMBC, US), Joe Lambert (StoryCenter, US), Michalis Meimaris (University of Athens, Greece), Philippa Rappoport (SCLDA – Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, US), Bill Shewbridge (UMBC, US), Tony Sumner (Patient Voices, UK), Pam Sykes (University of the Western Cape, South Africa).