Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Ryland White


Listening is becoming more of a rarity in this increasingly busy world, especially between those who see a particular issue differently. The question, “By conducting listening projects as trainers, what can we learn about ourselves and social action work?” is explored in this capstone paper to see how listening can benefit us both personally and professionally as trainers. Numerous articles, commentaries, and literature around listening, listening projects, and their meaning are examined in this paper.

Five different types of listening projects are explored through listening sessions: Oral histories, Oral artistries, ‘Button-pushing’ challenges, Single-issue testimonies, and Life stories. With the exception of ‘button-pushing’ challenges, which comes from the Training for Social Action (TSA) class, the types of listening projects come from Hugo Slim’s Listening for Change and were all studied during the TSA class. Building upon and deepening learnings from best practices and studies in TSA; themes for the listening sessions were determined by the author’s own experiences which prompted this personal journey in listening to ten people, their lives, and their perspectives. For each type of project, two participants were selected. A total of ten participants were listened to: five who the inquirer previously knew and five who were strangers.

Best practices are determined for listening projects as a whole; best practices for individual types of projects, similarities, and differences are also suggested. Key learnings are shared about the act of listening, listening projects, the self, and how all of these concepts can enhance training. Further connections are made in how listening lands within the realm of social action. Both training practitioners and their work can benefit from slowing down and listening. As is found by both the author and the literature: – “Listening is social action.”


Civic and Community Engagement | Communication | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication | Politics and Social Change