PRESS RELEASE: VFC's Discovering Community Summer Institute 2016 Announced

See below for Copy of Press Release:


CONTACT:  Bob Hooker



Announcing the 2016 Discovering Community Summer Institute


The Vermont Folklife Center’s Summer Institute, Discovering Community: Students, Digital Storytelling, and Place-Based Learning, brings together educators for an intensive four-day program July 18-21 in Middlebury, Vermont. Three graduate credits are available through Castleton University upon completion of this course.

The Institute offers participants hands-on experience learning the methods of community-based research and the techniques of documentary media making and digital storytelling within a school setting. Working with community resources and digital media tools provides rich opportunities for personalized, student-led learning experiences—with the capacity to engage both high-performing and at-risk students. Participants will explore how this research model develops transferable skills in their students: clear and effective communication, responsible and involved citizenship, creative and practical problem solving, and informed and integrative thinking.

Past participants hail from a broad spectrum of roles in the K-16 system, including classroom teachers, special educators, librarians, and administrators. The diversity of attendees ensures a rich opportunity to explore ideas, probe models, and collaboratively visualize site-appropriate applications.

Through four action-packed days, Discovering Community participants engage with cultural researchers, media specialists, and fellow educators to explore the power of ethnographic field research and to develop techniques for working with digital audio, video, and photography as documentary and storytelling tools. Using the Middlebury community as a classroom, Discovering Community models simple strategies for deepening students’ relationships to their own hometowns.

The Discovering Community Summer Institute builds on the Vermont Folklife Center’s many years of collaboration with educators on community-based projects, the ever-expanding array of digital devices with recording capabilities, and the do-it-yourself editing and production opportunity that digital technology affords.

Stories and storytelling are at the center of this experience, and as one participant observed, “The personal gain of realizing that there are millions of stories in our own backyards that are ten times more interesting than People Magazine is something that I will cherish.”

Included in the cost of the Institute is 8 hours of ongoing support from VFC education outreach faculty throughout the fall 2016 semester in the form of in-school coaching, workshops, and technical assistance. Participants will be invited to a follow-up session at the beginning of the 2016 school year to present their short documentaries or digital stories and receive feedback on plans for implementing projects with their students.

For registration, tuition, or other information about the Discovering Community Summer Institute and our nationally recognized faculty go to  You can also contact us at 802-388-4964 or

The Vermont Folklife Center seeks to broaden, strengthen, and deepen our understanding of Vermont and the surrounding region; to assure a repository for our collective cultural memory; and to strengthen our communities by building connections among the diverse peoples of our state.