Story+ FAQ for Potential Team Leaders

What is Story+?
Story+ is a 6-week summer program that immerses interdisciplinary teams of students, faculty, and staff in arts and humanities research and public storytelling. Story+ promotes inquiry-based learning and vertically-integrated collaboration through projects that may be driven by archival research, oral history, textual analysis, visual analysis, cultural criticism, art, or other humanistic research methods. Small teams of undergraduates, supervised by graduate student mentors, collaborate on focused projects that contribute to the broader research, teaching, scholarly communications, and/or public engagement agendas of Duke faculty, Duke librarians, non-profit organizations, and other University or non-University project sponsors. Story+ final projects have taken the form of writing, exhibits, websites, annotated archives, short films/videos, podcasts, social media content, and other genres.
A typical Story+ team consists of a project sponsor, a graduate student mentor, and three undergraduate researchers. Project sponsors benefit from the opportunity to engage a team of students, who are provided with appropriate guidance and mentoring through Story+, in research that may further their work. Story+ undergraduate students learn how to conduct rigorous interpretive research in a team setting, connect academic knowledge to broader social issues, and communicate their research stories with diverse audiences – within and outside the University – in a complex media environment. Graduate mentors get the distinctive pedagogical and professional opportunity to manage a complex collaborative project, and facilitate the network of relationships that such projects entail. 
How might faculty, staff units, or community partners benefit from participating in Story+? In Story+, our team leads have 
  • Workshopped new ideas, research tools, and methodologies
  • Piloted new research projects or collaborations, or expanded existing ones
  • Prototyped a plan, process, or outcome to support a grant proposal
  • Mentored graduate and undergraduate students in a different way
  • Started research that lead to publication and presentation
  • Developed community and interdisciplinary partnerships
  • Created multimedia stories to support research goals
  • Integrated the arts into their research
As with other Bass Connections experiences, Team Leaders and collaborators report that their teams result in a range of outputs including peer-reviewed publications, grant proposals and awards, new research terrains and collaborations, changes to their teaching, and exhibits and other tangible products. 
How do I propose a Story+ Project? 
Story+ releases its Call for Projects in the Fall of each school year (e.g. Sept 2021) for projects taking place the following summer (e.g. May-June 2022). Calls for Projects will be posted to the Story+ website, to FHI's website, to the Bass Connections website and distributed through email, newsletter, and social media channels. Faculty may also propose a summer research experience through Story+ when applying for a year-long Bass Connections project.
The CFP will ask you to provide 
  • Brief description of the overall project
  • Description of the specific project goal(s) and output(s) you hope to accomplish through Story+
  • Description of how your project aligns with the mission and goals of Story+ to offer a rich arts and humanities research and public storytelling experience for graduates and undergraduates
  • Work plan: this is optional but ideal. This might include a sketch of methods, methodologies, weekly schedule, opportunities for students, campus/community partners who might collaborate, post-Story+ afterlives of the research
  • List of essential skills undergraduates will need to contribute to the project
  • Any funding from external sources or other Duke units that can support the work of the team
Who can I talk to to help conceptualize a project idea? Story+ co-director Dr. Amanda Starling Gould is available to discuss project ideas, to co-develop and scope projects, and to provide thought-partnership on research tools, project collaborators, and pedagogical integration. You can reach her at
What types of projects are ideal for a Story+ team? We seek projects of any topic that are anchored in arts and humanities research methods and questions, with well-defined project goals that can be feasibly completed in six weeks. Outcomes of past Story+ teams have ranged from “finished products” (e.g. a completed curatorial plan a physical exhibit or a published research report), “prototypes” or pilot projects (e.g. a prototype online teaching module or a proof-of-concept audio podcast), as well as preliminary, exploratory research that contributes to a larger ongoing project (e.g. oral histories, translation, transcription, or archival discovery). We encourage proposals that build upon or towards course offerings, Humanities Labs, or Bass Connections teams during the regular school year. As possible points of reference, please see our Story+ website for descriptions and outcomes from previous teams. PIs or projects previously supported by Story+ are eligible to apply, but note that priority may be given, in these cases, to projects that demonstrate a significantly new direction or outcome. Individuals are strongly encouraged to consult with Amanda Starling Gould ( about interest and available opportunities.
While successful projects take many different forms, they often share a few elements
  • Many integrate knowledge from multiple disciplines, with a strong grounding in at least one arts or humanities discipline, practice, or methodology
  • Note that Team Leads do NOT need to be housed in an arts or humanities department. We've had successful Team Leads from Law, Medicine, the Sciences, and from non-Duke local community cultural institutions 
  • Are accessible to students from various learner levels, including undergraduates
  • Are research-based
  • Engage an external community or partner
  • Are of a scope that can be completed within six-weeks (this may include completing a discrete phase of a larger research projects
  • Are suitable for group-based work
  • Center justice and inclusion
What types of projects are not funded? Story+ projects are not standard summer courses or seminars, nor are they for individual faculty research or travel. Projects without a recognizable arts and humanities or storytelling element may not be selected. Projects that require travel and/or research that cannot be performed during the Story+ summer program dates (mid-May-June) may not be selected.
How many projects are accepted each year? Story+ funds up to 10 projects each year. 
How are Story+ project teams selected? A committee formed of interdisciplinary faculty members and Story+ alumni review applications. Projects are assessed on the following dimensions:
  • Articulation of Project: How clearly does the proposal articulate the central components requested? Is it clear what the students will be asked to do?
  • Humanistic Inquiry: Is there a legible arts or humanities inquiry/approach articulated in the project's content, methods, anticipated outcomes
  • Shared values: How closely does the project reflect the values and objectives of our program?
  • Feasibility: How feasible is the anticipated structure of the six weeks for the desired outcome?
  • Student Experience: Does this project offer a worthwhile hands-on (even if remote or hybrid) interdisciplinary arts and humanities and storytelling experience for students?
  • Roadblocks: Are there any unnavigable roadblocks - intellectual, material, logistical - preventing student success or creating barriers for accessibility and inclusion?
What are the responsibilities of project team leaders? It’s important to understand and be realistic about the time required to lead a project team. Generally speaking, team leaders are responsible for:
  • Conceptualizing and proposing the project: Team leaders create the initial vision for a project, identify co-leader(s) and submit the CFP. If the project will engage external partners, which is encouraged, team leaders are also responsible for identifying and recruiting those partners.
  • Team formation: Once a project has been funded, team leaders need to form the project team by selecting students from the applications received. They also need to set up a framework for when the team will meet and how they will work together.
  • Project administration: Team leaders are responsible for structuring the overall project and effectively engaging all student team members in the work. This includes setting and communicating clear goals and timelines, setting norms for team operations and setting expectations for students. Project leads should plan to be accessible to their teams on at least a weekly basis and are excepted to be regularly available to collaborate with their full team. The most successful and highly-ranked of our projects are those with dedicated sponsors and clearly-articulated goals.
  • Project leadership: Throughout the project, the team leaders will continue to set a vision and provide direction for the team, but they are also encouraged to give team members significant responsibility for the direction of the project, while providing coaching and support. Story+ provides guidance, support and team resources to simplify the process of leading a team. Team leaders will also be responsible for reporting on the outcomes of their projects and completing a post-program survey. 
  • For our full statement on Responsibilities and Expectations, please review our Story+ Policies and Expectations for Team Leaders. See too what we expect from students in our Policies and Expectations for Story+ Student Researchers statement.
What are the benefits to students of participating on Story+ project teams? On average, ninety-seven percent of participating students – undergraduates and graduates – say they would recommend the program to a friend. Common benefits reported by students include the opportunity to
  • Explore their research and career interests
  • Gain research experience
  • Work closely with faculty and other students
  • Gain valuable experience for their resume
  • Work with external stakeholders
  • Connect classroom lessons to social issues
  • Work on a diverse interdisciplinary team
  • Integrate arts and humanities into their disciplinary fields
We also offer stipends to graduate and undergraduate students that are competitive with other summer programs at Duke, enabling participation for those who otherwise might not have the resources.
What support is available to project team leaders? Story+ co-directors, Dr. Amanda Starling Gould and Dr. Jules Odendahl-James are available - before, during, and after the program - to answer questions and assist team leaders. They also work with team leaders to manage student recruitment and enrollment and administer funding. They also provide Project Management training, a Story+ Skills and Methodologies Bootcamp, and weekly learning and community-building sessions during the Story+ summer term. They too organize the Annual Story+ Research Symposium, as well as program-wide assessment and evaluation, at the close of the program.
Adapted, with permission, from Last updated, August 2021.