The project seeks to assess whether Digital Storytelling (DST) may be used as a tool for countering language endangerment in the very unique circumstances of the Arbore people in Ethiopia. The more targeted research goal is to offer a DST workshop to interdisciplinary scholars working with and for the Arbore people in a train-the-trainer format. The proposal builds on the interdisciplinary expertise of two collaborators, one from the human rights / engaged-research perspective; the other from a linguistics / capacity buildings standpoint.

Drawing on the interdisciplinary strengths and connections of each of the applicants, the proposed project will cross disciplines in order to merge the expertise of the scholars by promoting innovative research methodology (Digital Storytelling), to gather and analyse existing findings on a global issue: the protection of endangered languages. The project is in line with the GYA’s strategic target to contribute to efforts to address societal challenges, as language disappearance is one of the defining challenges of our generation. Further, the train-the-trainer model is designed to broaden the scope and reach of this project beyond our own research and to encourage interdisciplinary scientific discovery beyond the project’s life. The publication of the results and analyses of this project, in various modes and forms (from social media to scholarly publication) will add to the visibility of the GYA and contribute to its mandate of making science accessible.

This project is intended as a pilot project to a potentially larger and more expansive project involving international NGOs and other interdisciplinary research collaborators.


Completed steps

  • Literature review, policy analysis and finding interdisciplinary partners
  • Sourcing of resources on using Digital Storytelling (DST) in teaching and learning in Africa
  • Training workshop at Addis Ababa University on the use of DST as a research tool (February 2019), attended by graduate students and staff members from Linguistics, Social Anthropology, Human Rights and Development Studies.
  • Presentation on the use of DST as a tool for active learning at UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (February 2019:

Work in progress

  • Train-the-Trainer manual for teachers in Ethiopia
  • Scholarly article on using DST as methodology
  • report for UNESCO on potentials of DST for teachers
  • Conceptual meeting in Canada and preliminary field work in the Arbore region

Key Findings and future work

  • Following consultations with experts in the field, the project shifted focus from Arbrore speakers toward other possible uses for DST in Ethiopia.
  • The grant team is developing a partnership with UNESCO explore whether DST could become one important means that teachers could benefit from to amplify their voice in policy making.

Further Information

About the GYA North-South Interdisciplinary Grant

The GYA includes a diverse membership of scientists and scholars, in many disciplines, based in low/middle-income and high-income countries. This grant scheme was initiated in 2014, aiming to foster collaboration across the lines that often separate researchers and limit possibilities. Specifically, this scheme facilitates the development of small-scale, innovative, curiosity-driven, blue-sky, exploratory research pilots or prototypes that unite researchers in low/middle-income and high-income countries and cross disciplinary boundaries.
The North-South Interdisciplinary Grant is awarded annually, and is meant to provide seed money to enable GYA members to prepare a proof of concept, prototype, or pilot research project with a view to securing larger external funding.