TLA Classes

We offer online classes to help you deepen your understanding of Transformative Language Arts, explore the craft of various genres and arts related to TLA, and develop your livelihood, community work, and service related to TLA.

Designed and taught by leading teachers, transformative language artists and activists, and master facilitators (want to be one of them?), these classes offer you ample opportunities to grow your art of words, your business and service, and your conversation with your life work.

The online nature of the classes allows you to participate from anywhere in the world (provided you have internet access) at any time of the day while, and at the same time, the intimate and welcoming atmosphere of the classes helps students find community, inspiration, and greater purpose.

All classes include hands-on activities (writing, storytelling, theater, spoken word, visual arts,music and/or other prompts), plus great resources, readings, and guidance. We use the online educational platform, Moodle.

Enrollment Cost

Classes are priced by the number of weeks they run. Members pay $35/week, non-members pay $40/week. Most classes run for 6 weeks, so members would pay $210 and non-members would pay $240.

NOTE: When there is a sale, the class page only displays the non-member discounted price. If you are a member, it will show the member discount once you start the registration process.

Cancellation & Refund Policy

Cancellations: A nonrefundable fee of 10% is included in each registration. No cancellations after the class begins. In the case of extenuating circumstances, please contact us.

Low Enrollment Cancellations: Classes that do not meet a minimum enrollment may be canceled a minimum of 3 days prior to the first class meeting with full refunds for all registrants.

Incomplete: Students seeking certification in TLA Foundations who cannot complete a class due to extenuating circumstances may be granted a discounted registration on the next available offering of that class. To be eligible for the discount students must communicate their circumstance to the teacher as soon as possible.

Download a PDF version of the
Fall 2017 to Summer 2018 Class Catalogue

Click here to download

Upcoming Classes

    • 01 Jan 2018
    • 31 Dec 2018
    • Online

    NOTE: This class does not have a set time frame -- you may register and move through the material at any time of the year.

    This self-paced poetry class combines innovative writing prompts, inspiring essays and videos on the craft and passion of writing powerful poetry about our lives and times, and written discussions on the history and possibilities of poetry that speaks to social transformation.

    Each unit highlights both state poet laureate past or present, and a historic poet dedicated to changing the world, including a writing prompt and writing craft or writing life discussion from that poet, some of the poets laureate's poems with writing prompts, a discussion of a poet from the past or present who crafts poetry for social transformation, and exciting links to interviews, essays, and videos.

    By the end of this 12-unit class, you will have written dozens of new poems (over 10 writing prompts in each unit), learned more about poetry as a craft and way of life, considered various ways to speak truth to power for individual and social change, and interacted with the writing and poetics of 37 American poets.

    Poets highlighted in the class: Each unit will feature a state poet laureate, a U.S. (or tribal) poet laureate, and a historic poets, including the following: Walt Whitman, W. S. Merwin, Marilyn L. Taylor, Emily Dickinson, Dick Allen, William Stafford, Sue Brennan Walker, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, William Trowbridge, Robert Penn Warren, Muriel Rukeyser, Mark Strand, Grace Paley, Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, Adrienne Rich, Joyce Brinkman, Juan Felipe, Herrera, Denise Low, Wendell Berry, Rita Dove, David Romtvedt, Sharon Olds, Luci Tapahonso, Kimberly Blaeser, Yusef Komunyakaa, Joy Harjo, Marjory Wentworth, Audre Lorde, Elizabeth Woody, Natasha Trethewey, Li-Young Lee, JoAnn Balingit, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Naomi Shahib Nye, Tracy K. Smith, and Richard Blanco. (Photo: from left, Audre Lorde, Meridel Le Sueur, and Adrienne Rich.)

    Recommended supplementary text: An Endless Skyway: Poetry from the United Poets Laureate of America, edited by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Denise Low, Walter Bargen, and Marilyn L. Taylor. Ice Cube Press. NOTE: Special discounted rate for supplementary text available to those who enroll in this class.

    Week by Week

    Each unit includes:

    • 10-15 writing prompts 

    • 3-6 poems by visiting state poet laureate, U.S. or tribal poet laureate, and historic poet.

    • Handout on craft or other consideration by visiting poet laureate.

    • Essays and videos on poetry as a catalyze for social change and ecological stewardship.

    • Links to articles, interviews, websites, etc. featuring visiting poet laureate

    Who Should Take This Class

    This class is appropriate for those with any amount of experience writing poetry, from those who are interested in learning more and might be a bit nervous about it, to writers with years of experience who want to generate new work and brush up on elements of craft and be exposed to new contemporary writers, and how writing can be a positive force for change.

    NOTE: This class cannot count towards TLA Foundations Certification requirements.


    This is a self-paced online class. By self-paced, we mean that you do this class on your own without interacting with the teacher or a cohort group, and according to your own schedule, allowing you to engage with the the material on your own timeline. Each unit is full of resources, reflections, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Students should expect to spend 4-7 hours per unit perusing resources and readings and engaging in several writing prompts (although with so much material and so many writing prompts, students can certainly spend more time revisiting each unit to find more inspiration and ideas).

    About the Editor

    Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., the 2009-13 KansasPoet Laureate, has created this class through study, experience, and in conversations with over a dozen state poets laureate (many of whom shared their best handouts and writing prompts). Caryn is the author of two dozen books, including the recent Miriam's Well, a novel; Following the Curve, poetry; and Everyday Magic, a collection of beloved blog posts and personal essays. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College where she teaches, Mirriam-Goldberg also leads writing workshops widely, particularly for people living with serious illness and their caregivers. With singer Kelley Hunt, she co-leads Brave Voice writing and singing retreats.

    • 21 Feb 2018
    • 03 Apr 2018
    • Online
    • 9

    The process of seeking a grant can seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. In this class, poet and grant-writer Diane Silver provides an insider's understanding of the grant process, gives you the resources you need to identify the perfect grant to target, and supplies feedback on your application draft. The primary purpose of this six-week class is to enable you to produce a finished or nearly finished grant application.

    NOTE: This is a 6-week online class, beginning Wednesday, February 21, and ending Tuesday, April 3. Please ignore the set times listed in our Facebook posting for this class — weekly modules are engaged with your own time (FB just requires a time for events).

    Week by Week

    Week One: Who, How and Where

    We'll orient ourselves to the process of grant writing. Each participant will choose a funder to target.

    Week Two: Tips, Tricks, Boilerplates and Artist's Statements

    We'll learn about boilerplate language, artist's statements, learn a few tips and tricks, and devise a practical plan for your work on your grant proposal.

    Week Three: Of Budgets and Beginnings

    We'll learn how easy it is to create a budget for a grant, and determine the most effective arguments that will enable you to win a grant.

    Week Four: Muddling Through

    With much help from your teacher and the other participants, you will dive deep into writing your proposal.

    Week Five: Conquering the First Draft

    More writing will be completed and even more support will come your way from the entire class. We will seek that feeling of triumph that comes from conquering a first draft.

    Week Six: Charting Your Future

    In the final week, we will complete our grant proposals and participants will determine their next steps.

    Who Should Take This Class

    This course is for all creative artists, educators and activists seeking grant funding to support their work. If you tried to win a grant and failed, never tried at all, or find yourself procrastinating on your next grant application, this class is for you. If you know what grant you want to target, this class will provide you with the support and guidance you need to polish and complete your application. If you have no clue where to start, this class will help you find resources, understand the process, and will provide feedback and support to help you complete your application.


    This is an online class that uses Moodle's educational software. There is a suggested schedule, but all of the material will be available to participants on the first day of class. Participants should expect to spend 3–5 hours per week perusing resources and readings, doing research on funding sources, working on their own grant proposal, and providing feedback to the other participants in the class. From our interactions, we sustain a welcoming and inspiring community together.

    About the Teacher

    A poet, journalist, and political activist, Diane Silver often pays her mortgage by working as a grant-writer and in fundraising. In her career, Diane has helped two universities raise hundreds of millions of dollars and written proposals that have won funding for a variety of clients. 

    Her online course, Grant Writing and Fundraising Communications, and her fundraising writing win high praise. 

    "Diane Silver is the most talented development writer I've known in more than 20 years of work," says Geni Holmes Greiner, executive director of university events for Wake Forest University.

    Diane's most recent creative work is a four-volume series of poetry called Your Daily Shot of Hope. The first two volumes, Meditations for an Age of Despair and Meditations on Awakening, were published in 2017. Forthcoming are Meditations on Transformation and Meditations on Joy.

    • 14 Mar 2018
    • 24 Apr 2018
    • Online
    • 10

    This class explores the profound connection that the act and art of writing have to the work of increasing social justice, and transforming self and community.

    We will locate in our passion for justice a powerful engine to drive our writing; to reveal, witness, commemorate; to explore language, character and story. Potent in freeing and deepening our writing is work to re-examine and reframe the craft and concepts of good writing, whether poetry or prose, fiction or nonfiction, by exploring craft not as an abstract set of rules from on high, but within its political and historical context. The work of association, for instance, revealing the connections between things that seem not to be connected, is basic to the political as well as the poetic (and the spiritual!).

    This workshop offers concrete tools to support our coming to voice—an intrinsic part of the process of overthrowing personal, group, and societal censors and tyrants to recover what has been silenced, and empower each writer in their creative approaches.

    Through a series of writing explorations, and the inspiration of authors who have grappled with writing that makes an impact, this course offers ideas for and practice in ways of writing for social change that expand your writing craft and creativity. We go further, examining what is at the heart of writing that can break the social silences, recover peoples' histories, reveal connections among all things and beings, and re-dream a just world in your writing and community.

    Week by Week

    Week 1: Introduction to the relationship of creative writing craft and concepts for prose and poetry, to social justice, and to a dynamic writing process that increases and expresses social consciousness.

    We'll examine the relationship between individual “writer’s block” and the larger forces of internalized censorship and political silencing. We’ll use the practice of microscopic truthfulness to begin writing images that reveal, and support a shift in, power relations; as well as images that commemorate and celebrate; go beyond stereotypes; bring hidden stories to life; and counter historical amnesia.

    Week 2: Expanding our writing’s context, and our language’s associative networks.

    We’ll work on rediscovering and freeing language from the limits of a “colonized” and exploitation-based language into its fuller historical, social, and personal context. Each writer will work to expand their language’s hidden context, and their creative networks of association for writing in any genre. We’ll examine association simultaneously as the essence of poetry and as part of how we structure story; as a road into unexpected political and historical content; and as a path to deepen our narrative and poetic work.

    Week 3: Essential concepts of craft that open the content of your writing.

    Our further investigation of associative work as a route into widened context and increased content reveals a process deeply political and powerfully imaginative. We’ll work with the political and creative implications of the juxtaposition of events and of images, including by way of “surreal” images of oppression that move us through use of juxtaposition. We’ll practice specific craft concepts to further open content, and break out of superficial linear narrative to make way for fuller histories and deeper personal connections to enter the telling.

    Week 4: Associative wandering, fueled by the compassionate imagination, to bring you into fuller knowledge of your subject and characters.

    We’ll develop fuller characterization through associative wandering into the hidden sources of events and behaviors. We’ll explore what’s at stake in your writing, what sustains you in the work, and how to move from “not knowing” into “imaginative knowing”. We’ll enlist the desperately needed power of the imagination as ally in the work for social and personal justice; as vehicle to bring the power of history and memory, the invisible and the silenced, into our writing.

    Week 5: How to work with what haunts the present and inhabits the literal; how to develop powerful characterization and dynamic narration grounded in justice.

    Use of repetition and return to write what haunts the present; discovery of the engine that drives your search for truth in writing. Use of lists in prose and poetry to arrive at deep truths that burst out of accumulation of the literal. Expand the complexity and range of your characterization through your connection--and opposition--to your characters. Explore dynamic narration; shifting points of view; multiple narration; and political/real life implications of the narration we choose or develop.

    Week 6: Images; humor and oppression; self-compassion; re-dreaming a just world.

    Images and witnessing: images that haunt us; that move us. Further techniques to expand the context of our stories, poems, articles, including concentric circles. Work with humor to reveal/critique the outrages of oppression. Lift the social overlay that deforms our vision, and go beyond stereotype—into self-compassion that further frees our writing. Further discussion of narration in motion with film, literary, and other references. Powerful culmination of class into re-dreaming the world.

    Who Should Take This Class

    Writers across the genres at all levels of experience would benefit, since this course works through radical refiguring of creative writing across the genres, reframing and recontextualizing writing craft. The course resonates not only with experienced and professional writers, and participants well-prepared academically, but has also been taught with at-risk/dropout young adults; working adults; activists in a range of struggles; immigrants and refugees; university honors undergrads; practitioners in religious settings; psychotherapists; attendees at conferences on “overcoming racism”; historians at any level. Useful for educators to help integrate their class content with their students’ experiences and issues. Useful for anyone wanting access to fuller context of self and others.

    Because the course works simultaneously to teach craft beyond conventional views, and integrate local and global issues and work on personal growth into the art of writing; it benefits people with an eye on the world and a desire to more fully grapple in their writing with the weight of history and the challenges of the present. With space for productive, sensitive expression and discussion, the course allows a range of issues—global, local, and personal; historical and current—to come forward as an integral part of the opening up of writing craft. Issues of race, class, gender and sexual orientation; disabilities; issues of refugees, immigration and diaspora; effects of historical and current traumas; mass incarceration; constant war; and more, are part of our work’s context. Beneficial for writing in a variety of genres, especially story (fiction or memoir), poetry, personal essay.


    This is an online class. Each week, a new week will open full of resources, reflections, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Students should expect to spend 3-5 hours per week perusing resources and readings, answering a discussion question, engaging in several writing prompts, and responding to peers’ work. From our interactions, we sustain a welcoming and inspiring community together.

    About the Teacher

    Anya Achtenberg is an award-winning writer whose publications include novel Blue Earth, novella The Stories of Devil-Girl, and poetry collections, The Stone of Language, and I Know What the Small Girl Knew. Prizes awarded her include those from Southern Poetry Review; Another Chicago Magazine; Coppola's Zoetrope: All-Story; New Letters; and the Minnesota State Arts Board. Recent poetry and prose published in Tupelo Quarterly; Malpais Review; Hinchas de poesia, Poet Lore; Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art, and an essay in the anthology, How Dare We! Write: A Multicultural Creative Writing Discourse. History Artist, a novel almost completed, concerns a Cambodian woman born at the moment the U.S. bombing began. She just completed poetry chapbook, Advice to Travelers. Nonfiction includes articles on creative writing, including the relationships between trauma, placelessness, narration, and language. Anya teaches creative writing workshops around the U.S.; online around the world; and consults with writers individually.

    • 04 Apr 2018
    • 01 May 2018
    • Online
    • 14

    This class has been designed for and offered to those who feel overwhelmed by life's challenges or those who feel too stuck to make a plan for something more.

    Each week, participants will be given a poem and prompts that will gently guide them in journaling and poetry writing exercises (and optional "supporting exercises" for those who want to go deeper into the work).

    By using creativity of writing, participants will begin to identify what weight needs to be unpacked and how, and begin to re-pack what is most important and meaningful to them.

    Week by Week

    Week 1 - "Naming Things"

    Each week, I will provide poems and journaling/poetry writing prompts to help you identify and release the mental, emotional, spiritual or physical weight that is slowing your life. I will also provide optional supporting exercises designed to support your emotional processing of what's coming via your writing. Examples are to buy a plant (even if you don't have a green thumb) that you will care for and observe as we go through this series, or dance in front of a mirror as a way to celebrate your releasing of toxic emotions (and, for some, to move outside of your comfort zone).

    Week 2 - "Balancing Act"

    Last week we looked at what you’re carrying. This week, we’re going to take it a step farther. How are you balancing what you’re carrying? How does the weight feel? Is it too heavy? Just right? Chances are there are some things you’re carrying that you are ready to let go. Before we get to the letting go stage (next week) let’s linger here a little longer for clarity.

    Week 3 - "Letting Go"

    Week 1 you looked at what you’re carrying and you named all of it. Placing names and calling things as they are are powerful tools! Then, last week you looked how are you balancing what you’re carrying. How the weight feels. This week we’re focusing on what you can, and are ready and willing to let go of. It’s time, right?

    Week 4 - "Unpacking"

    When we commit to doing (thinking) something new or different we are often sidetracked by common challenges. This week, you will look at what you believe will try to and may “trip you up” as you move forward with letting go and beginning again. Awareness, after all, is one of our greatest tools to living a full and wonderfully authentic life.

    Optional Bonus (added as a gift to end week 4): "New Venture"

    Now that you've identified what you need to let go of, it's time to begin to think of “new ventures.” This week you looked at all the places in your life and all of what you’re carrying and blessed it, as well as began to think about how you could “live out your ecstasy on earth.” Now that you’ve given some thought to (and hopefully let go of) what is holding you back, what is your new voice saying to you? Where are you headed now?

    Who Should Take This Class

    This series is designed for those who are wanting to work through what "weight" might be holding them from living a fuller life. Those who feel stressed out and in need of clarity. Those who are burden and are looking for a place (internally) to process life (external) demands and to "find" themselves. And, ideally, those who are willing to go a beyond the surface and dig deeper into the balance and changes their life needs in order to live a life they were created to live.


    This is an online class. Each week, a new week will open full of resources, reflections, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Students should expect to spend 3-5 hours per week perusing resources and readings, answering a discussion question, engaging in several writing prompts, and responding to peers’ work. From our interactions, we sustain a welcoming and inspiring community together.

    About the Teacher

    Jacinta V. White is a published poet and a 2017 recipient of the Duke Energy Regional Artist grant. She has been facilitating group and individual poetry writing sessions -- using poetry as healing -- for more than 15 years, through her company, The Word Project. Just three years ago, Jacinta launched Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing -- an international online journal publishing poetry, creative nonfiction and photography. Knowing from personal experience the healing balm poetry provides, Jacinta is committed to assisting others and expanding the conversation on art and healing. Read more at

    • 04 Apr 2018
    • 15 May 2018
    • Online
    • 11

    "Art is a prayer... a fresh vital discovery of one's own special presence in the world." Peter London

    At the heart of one's creativity lies a desire to explore and express the exquisite power of the present experience, feeling, sensation and belief. This class will focus on strengthening and recognizing the intuitive sense of the creative process without judgment or restriction. We’ll play with writing meditations, reflections, and written and spoken word pieces that gently guide us to who we are now, in this moment.

    Through writing meditations, personal reflections, readings, videos and on-line shared discussions, we will explore how our creativity brings us into the present by bearing witness to the sacred within one another, the world and ourselves.  

    We'll focus on the use of images, metaphors, ritual, voice, and a variety of writing structures to create vivid pieces in and outside of class. Beginning and experienced writers in any genre are welcome!

    Week by Week

    Week 1: Be Here, Now

    In this first week we learn to listen to the exquisite self and world and write witness to both pain and beauty.

    Week 2: The Poetics of the Impassioned Present

    The second week takes us into the past to reclaim our silenced voices by working with images, feelings and sounds.

    Week 3: Don’t Think, Just Go

    Week three uses short writing “bursts” and prompts to trace a trail of where we’ve been and how it brought us to where we are now.

    Week 4: I Said NO!

    This weeks brings us to the awareness of who we are and aren’t. We use the paradoxes, contradictions, confusion and compromises that may have marked our lives to find fresh meaning and expression to the tensions of life.

    Week 5: Communal Voices

    Sharing our voices and our writings in a conference call.

    Week 6: Pick Up the Pen

    This final week shows us that we become who we are by picking up the pen. We’ll focus on strategies and exercises that will focus and refresh you to your complicated exultant self.

    Who Should Take This Class

    Writers, spoken-word artists/storytellers, anyone interested in playing with the concept of poetic or narrative sharing and its connection to personal knowledge and growth.


    This is an online class. Each week, a new week will open full of resources, reflections, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Students should expect to spend 3-5 hours per week perusing resources and readings, answering a discussion question, engaging in several writing prompts, and responding to peers’ work. From our interactions, we sustain a welcoming and inspiring community together.

    About the Teacher

    For over twenty years Regi Carpenter has been bringing songs and stories to audiences of all ages throughout the world in school, theaters, libraries, at festivals, conferences and in people’s back yards. An award winning performer, Regi has toured her solo shows and workshops in theaters, festivals and schools, nationally and internationally.

    Regi is the youngest daughter in a family that pulsates with contradictions: religious and raucous, tender but terrible, unfortunate yet irrepressible. These tales celebrate the glorious and gut – wrenching lives of four generations of Carpenter s raised on the Saint Lawrence River in Clayton, New York. Tales of underwater tea parties, drowning lessons and drives to the dump give voice to multi-generations of family life in a small river town with an undercurrent.

    • 16 May 2018
    • 26 Jun 2018
    • Online
    • 15

    This thorough introduction to Transformative Language Arts (TLA) encompasses the personal and the global, the contemporary and the historic, and how TLA can be practiced through writing, storytelling, performance, song, and collaborative, expressive and integrated arts. Each week includes short readings, a lively discussion, and invigorating writing prompts to help you articulate more of your own TLA callings.

    Participants should plan on spending 3-5 hours on class assignments each week. We will also have two 40-minute conference calls (time to be determined in concert with everyone’s schedules), at the beginning and end of the class, to get to know one another and discuss questions and topics voice-to-voice.

    Every week includes website to visit and engage with, whether that engagement be simply perusing a site and learning about a movement, organization, watching a video or listening to a podcast. Weekly writing prompts give you room to work and play through what you know, are coming to know, and how this knowledge cross-pollinates with what you do and who you are.

    This class is also required for TLA Foundations Certification.

    To order a copy of The Power of Words: A TLA Reader (required text for class), please scroll down.

    Week by Week

    Week One: TLA history, fields and traditions

    An overview of theory and practice, including genres, arts and community practices, ethics, and your own values informing your TLA. Explore TLA in many forms–from poetry therapy to social change theater to healing storytelling–and share what ignites your soul and work.

    Week Two: TLA in Service: health, healing, spirituality, and personal growth.

    We’re explore how TLA can help people find their way home through health or emotional crises or wounds, spiritual callings, and many manner of personal growth. Starting with the personal, and recognizing how the personal is political, we look at ways in which TLA can foster health, healing, and homecoming, and also some of our cultural biases and blindnesses about such directions.

    Week Three: TLA as Catalyst: community, culture, history, and social change.

    We’ll look at TLA in relation to community-building, culture-shifting, history-revisioning, and social change, and particularly explore what it means and can mean to be part of various communities.

    Week Four:  TLA and Right Livelihood: Ways to Make a Living and a Life.

    What are our callings for how we make a living and how we live a life? We’ll dive into how TLA intersects with our life’s work (whether that work relates to a paycheck, volunteering, or other aspects of our life), and develop plans for where we’re led to go.

    Week Five: TLA in Action: Facilitation, Consulting, Collaboration, Coaching and More.

    Looking at the ethics of our work, art, and community involvement, we’ll discuss and write about the specific forms of TLA we do and want to do.

    Week Six: TLA and You: Plans, Visions, and Maps.

    Deepening our plans for the work, art, and community-making ahead, we’ll clarify what’s right for us to pursue next, what support and tools we need along the way, and the future envision.

    Who Should Take This Class

    This class is ideal for a wide variety of people, including professionals who want to infuse TLA into their teaching, counseling, pastoral work, arts collaboration, and community work; writers, storytellers, performers and other artists who want to develop their facilitation of writing, songwriting, expressive arts, drama therapy and community theater, collaborative arts, storytelling, and integrated arts; and perspective or current students or alumni of TLA studies.


    This is an online class. Each week, a new week will open full of resources, reflections, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Students should expect to spend 3-5 hours per week perusing resources and readings, answering a discussion question, engaging in several writing prompts, and responding to peers’ work. From our interactions, we sustain a welcoming and inspiring community together.

    Required Text: The Power of Words: A Transformative Language Arts Reader, edited by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Janet Tallman. You can purchase the text on Amazon.

    About the Teacher

    Joanna Tebbs Young is a Writer and Transformative Writing Facilitator and Coach. She holds a Masters degree in Transformative Language Arts from Goddard College and is a certified instructor through the Center for Journal Therapy. Joanna writes weekly columns for two local newspapers and offers workshops at her writing center in Rutland, VT. Her blog and coaching information can be found at

    Read TLA Founder Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s article, “Why I’m a Transformative Language Artist” in Huffington Post.

    • 16 May 2018
    • 26 Jun 2018
    • Online
    • 12

    Our current economic, political, and social systems are serving fewer and fewer people, not to mention destroying the environment.

    I don’t know what a future society will look like, but if it is to meet our human needs better than our current society does, I believe it needs to be formed with certain values in mind.

    Fortunately, these values can be taught, not just through stories, songs, dances, and poems about the values, but also through the very processes of telling or creating stories, singing or creating songs, and so on. In other words, our artistic processes themselves can give people experiences that open them to values that are necessary for an improved society.

    In this 6-week course, I'll briefly lay out a theory of how values can be influenced, as well as the eight values I’ve chosen as “values of a future society.” I’ll introduce the values one at a time and give examples of processes from storytelling that support each value. Then I’ll help you identify and/or create processes that can give others experiences of each value, from your particular type of transformational language work.

    Key to this course is inspiring each other to notice the transformative power of the creative processes. Together, we’ll engage in building an enlarging web of activities that can help people align themselves with currents that, I believe, will help move us toward a more just, supportive, and enlightened society.

    Week by Week

    Prework: Before the first lesson, I'll ask you to describe briefly the type of transformative language arts work you do (or are interested in doing), so that we can begin to notice the diverse strengths among us.

    Week 1

    What are we doing here? The difficulties of thinking about a future society. Eight values to help guide the path.

    The three ways it’s possible to influence someone else’s values. Influencing via content versus influencing via process: the advantages and disadvantages of each. Which processes are you familiar with in your own area of practice? Which processes are you drawn to learn more about?

    In Lessons 2 through 5, I’ll explain how the processes of storytelling can promote each of the two values introduced in the lesson. Then I'll guide us through an example process for each value. Finally, I’ll help you identify, adapt, and/or create processes from your work than can give your audience or students an implicit experience of the values.

    Week 2

    Value #1, "The Power of Listening”

    Value #2, “A Predisposition To Compassion,” as opposed to our cultural predisposition to evaluation.

    Week 3

    Value #3, “The Importance of Relationships.” How our society systematically discourages us from being truly close to each other and distracts us from the pursuit of connection.

    Value #4, “The Efficacy of Openness.” How openness and authenticity make everything else go better.

    Week 4

    Value #5, “The Preciousness of Every Human Point of View.” Each human has a unique and valuable perspective and set of experiences.

    Value #6, “The Universality of Human Potential.” All humans are capable of learning all human subjects. The destructive fallacy of “talent,” fostered by a society dependent on profit.

    Week 5

    Value #7, “The Whole Mind: Conceptual Thinking Plus Image Thinking.” Since the Enlightenment, our view of thinking has been too narrow; it’s time to broaden it.

    Value #8, “Emotion’s Dual Role in Thinking.” Emotion is required for thinking, but, at the same time, unhealed emotional hurt can distort our thinking.

    Week 6

    Summing up the relationships we’ve explored between processes and values. Are there patterns that emerge from the processes that all the course members identified for each of the eight values?

    How can what we’ve done here be carried forward? What does all this teach us about transformative language arts as a field?

    Who Should Take This Class

    Storytellers, fiction writers, narrative poets, songwriters, improvisational singers, dramatists, etc. - all who use language to help people imagine or convey their experience - especially those interested in teaching their art or discipline with an eye toward promoting generative values.

    The course will be most helpful to those with enough experience in their work to have already developed some processes for doing and/or teaching their art/discipline. I define transformative language arts broadly. If you think your work might belong here, it likely does!


    This is an online class. Each week, a new week will open full of resources, reflections, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Students should expect to spend 3-5 hours per week perusing resources and readings, answering a discussion question, engaging in several writing prompts, and responding to peers’ work. A gentle but clear process allows each participant to work at her/his own pace.

    The instructor will also host a live webinar call each week, at a time based on the schedules of the enrolled students. You will be able to attend the calls via computer or via telephone. All calls, including the visuals, will be recorded; the recordings will be available for any class member who needs to miss any of the calls.

    About the Teacher

    In 1970, Doug Lipman was a struggling teacher of troubled adolescents. He had given up connecting with them when one day, by accident, he found himelf telling them a story. They responded! Ever since, he has pursued the transformative power of storytelling.

    Over the decades, Doug has coached hundreds of people on their storytelling, writing, and recordings. He is the author of three books on storytelling (Improving Your Storytelling, The Storytelling Coach, and Storytelling Games), scores of published articles, and over 150 issues of his own email newsletters, including "eTips from the Storytelling Coach (

    A professional storyteller since 1976, Doug has performed and led workshops on three continents and led many online courses and webinars. His ongoing search for effective ways to teach the transformative power of storytelling has led to projects such as a new paradigm for coaching storytellers, an exploration of the seldom-noticed Hidden Storytelling Skills, and the pursuit of ways that storytelling and related arts can allow our true humanity to blossom.

Past Classes

18 Oct 2017 Writing Our Lives: The Poetic Self & Transformation // with Dr. Liz Burke-Cravens
18 Oct 2017 Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations // with Joanna Tebbs-Young
06 Sep 2017 Your Memoir as Monologue: How to Create Dynamic Dramatic Monologues About Healing and Transformation for Performance // with Kelly DuMar
06 Sep 2017 Wound Dwelling: Writing the Survivor Body(ies) // with Jennifer Patterson
14 Jun 2017 The Five Senses and Four Elements: Connecting with the Body and Nature Through Poetry // with Angie River
14 Jun 2017 The Poetics of Witness: Writing Beyond the Self // with Caits Meissner
19 Apr 2017 Diving and Emerging: Finding Your Voice and Identity in Personal Stories // with Regi Carpenter
01 Mar 2017 How Pictures Heal: Honoring Memory & Loss through Expressive Writing from Personal Photos // with Kelly DuMar
01 Mar 2017 Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations // with Joanna Tebbs-Young
11 Jan 2017 Your Callings, Your Livelihood, Your Life // With Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
11 Jan 2017 Values of the Future Through Transformative Language Arts // with Doug Lipman
14 Sep 2016 Wound Dwelling: Writing the Survivor Body(ies) // with Jennifer Patterson
14 Sep 2016 Creating a Sustainable Story: Self-Care, Meaningful Work, and the Business of Creativity // with Laura Packer
29 Jun 2016 Coming Home to Body, Earth, and Time: Writing From Where We Live // with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
29 Jun 2016 Making the Leap into Work You Love // with Scott Youmans
18 May 2016 Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations
18 May 2016 Saturated Selfies: Intentional and Intense Photography and Writing
28 Mar 2016 Gathering Courage: Still-Doing, Big Journaling, and Other (Not So Scary) Ways to Begin Accommodating the Soul
15 Feb 2016 Living Out Loud: Healing Through Storytelling and Writing
15 Feb 2016 Soulful Songwriting: How To Begin, Collaborate, And Finish Your Song
04 Jan 2016 Your Memoir as Monologue: How to Create Dynamic Dramatic Monologues About Healing and Transformation for Performance
04 Jan 2016 The Five Senses and the Four Elements: Connecting with the Body and Nature Through Poetry

"The Transformative Language Arts Network" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Kansas, P.O. Box 442633, Lawrence, KS 66044

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