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THE TALKS

The Pop Culture Collaborative is delighted to share a video playlist of insightful, provocative, often funny, and always informative talks by a range of pop culture for social change leaders and visionaries. All of the current profiled talks stem from frank, an annual gathering for artists, media strategists, communicators, and activists concerned about messaging and dynamic storytelling for social change.  

Through their insights and expertise, these narrative strategists, entertainment artists, cognitive scientists, movement leaders, and academic researchers help us explore three big ideas at the intersection of pop culture and social change,

  1. What must we ask of ourselves, and of each other, to do the hard work of culture change?
  2. What are critical theories of culture change strategy and narrative methodology that will advance social change?
  3. What is the future of the pop culture for social change field, from the pipelines we need to build, the community connections that need to be created, and the research and analysis that will inform long-term culture change strategies?  

And stay tuned! We’ll continue to update this page with new videos featuring talks and conversations with pop culture for social change leaders.



What must we ask ourselves to do the hard work of culture change?

Heidi Boisvert, futurePerfect Lab (2019)
The Ethics of Button Pushing

Artist and scientist Heidi Boisvert wrestles with the question, “If you can design a tool (to measure the neuroscience of pop culture), but it can be turned into a weapon, should you build it?” as she shares new audience research methodologies.

Bridgit Antoinette Evans (2017)
My Year of Breaking Open

Through the telling of her own transformative journey, Bridgit Antoinette Evans demonstrates how culture change strategy uses a multi-layered approach, designed to create profound shifts in the narratives, values, beliefs and behaviors of mass audiences.  

What are critical theories of culture change strategy and narrative methodology?

Alan Jenkins, The Opportunity Agenda (2019)
Vision, Values and Voice: Seven Lessons for Talking about Social Justice

Alan Jenkins shares incredible pro-tips to support changemakers’ long term goals in moving hearts and minds and driving audiences towards taking action.

Ryan Senser, It’s Not Safe Out Here (2019)
If You’re Storytelling, You’re Already Too Late

Ryan Senser shares how we can build a culture where people sees the opportunity for transforming themselves and unveils his groundbreaking narrative change methodology. 

Ai-Jen Poo, National Domestic Workers Alliance (2015)
The Age of Dignity for Domestic Workers

Ai-Jen Poo breaks down the power of storytelling to advance social change and have transformative communication that can lead to generating progressive policy and a greater sense of empowerment for the everyday storytellers among us.

Rashad Robinson, Color of Change (2017)
Presence to Power

Rashad Robinson poignantly lays out the challenge of changing norms and attitudes and explains how a multidisciplinary, integrated approach that shapes popular media can bring about racial justice.

What is the future of the pop culture for social change field?

Maytha Alhassen, Senior Fellow/Pop Culture Collaborative (2019)
From Real to Represented: Exploring the Space That Hollywood’s Muslim Storytelling Holds in Our Cultural Imagination

Based on her report Haqq and Hollywood: 100 Years of Muslim Tropes and How to Transform Them, Maytha Alhassen, PhD, critiques Hollywood’s portrayals of Muslims and offers new ways to create and popularize authentic narratives for American Muslims in pop culture.

Tracy Van Slyke, Pop Culture Collaborative (2019)
The World We Want: How People, Fandoms, and Immersive Storyworlds Will Shape America’s Future

Tracy Van Slyke asserts that culture change doesn’t have to happen to us, it can also be manifested by us. She explores how people powered pop culture change can help millions of people envision, create, and collectively fight for a world based in pluralism and justice.

Shawn Taylor, Senior Fellow/Pop Culture Collaborative (2019)
Fandom Makes This World

We are all fans of something, right? So can we remake the world because of—and with—the things that we love? Find out from pop culture fandom expert Shawn Taylor in this talk.

Zahra Noorbakhsh, Senior Fellow/Pop Culture Collaborative (2019)
Funny is Funny: So What’s Happening to Stand-up Comedy?

Zahra Noorbakhsh will make you laugh so hard you’ll cry. But she’s not joking when she says that the future of culture depends on expanding the comedic talent pool. See how she says we can get there.

Caty Borum, Center for Media & Social Impact (2019)
Seven Minutes in Heaven with a Scientist

What’s funny about social justice? Caty Borum Chattoo will tell you as she discusses the role of comedy and storytelling for social change.

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