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Short Course: RISE-T012

Ethical Storytelling for Travelers

Do you enjoy sharing your travel experiences with other people? Did you know that the way you talk or write about those experiences has an impact on the people and places represented in your stories? 


What you include and exclude, the words and images you choose, how you navigate your personal perspective all makes a difference. In this short course, dive into the importance of mindful messaging, especially in the travel context. Learn strategies for avoiding stereotypes, choosing the right words, sharing balanced narratives, and navigating power dynamics. Walk away feeling confident that when you share your next travel experience with others, you’re doing so in the most ethical way possible.


Why should you take this course

Building your storytelling skills is a journey, just like trips. The skills you learn in this course will support your commitment to being a responsible traveler, ensuring that when you travel and share the stories from your trip, you minimize harm and maximize your positive impact on people, places, and the planet.


A breakdown of the content

What is storytelling?

Defining what storytelling is, why we tell stories, and what it means to engage in ethical storytelling.

Why ethical storytelling matters

Understanding why the way we tell stories matters, especially in the travel context.

Navigating power dynamics

Examining privilege, understanding how life experiences and other historic and current circumstances create uneven power dynamics, and how learning how to navigate these dynamics when traveling.

Telling more mindful travel stories

Strategies to use before, during, and after a trip to help shape more intentional, diverse, and honest stories about experiences. This includes questions for personal reflection, potentially problematic terminology, and suggestions for telling stories that don't cause harm to people or places.

Beyond the tangible skills

Beyond specific storytelling skills, these "soft" skills are useful for becoming a better, more mindful traveler––and, therefore, a better, more mindful storyteller.

Imagery considerations

Connecting ethical storytelling skills to imagery, especially as it relates to social media.

The tourism trifecta

A deeper understanding of how being a mindful storyteller supports the idea that tourism can be a force for good.

Meet the instructor

JoAnna Haugen is an award-winning writer, speaker, consultant, and solutions advocate who has worked in communications-related positions in the travel and tourism industry her entire career. 


She is also founder of Rooted, a solutions platform at the intersection of sustainable tourism, social impact, and storytelling. Through Rooted, JoAnna helps tourism professionals decolonize travel experiences and support sustainability using strategic storytelling.

JoAnna Haugen - full size.jpg

In 2021, Newsweek named JoAnna a winner in the storytelling category of its Future of Tourism awards. She was a finalist for the Bessie Awards 2022 in two categories: Most Impactful Piece of Writing and Collaboration of the Year. Additionally, JoAnna is a two-time grant recipient from the Nevada Arts Council.


A returned Peace Corps volunteer, international election observer, and intrepid traveler, JoAnna currently resides in Carthage, Tunisia.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand why ethical storytelling is important

  • Learn strategies for becoming a more ethical storyteller

Format and Tuition

What our students say about this course

"This was a very deep, thought-provoking course with a lot of knowledge packed into an hour. From a beginning storyteller to someone who has been writing for years, there is something for everyone to learn in this course. For me, I thought a lot harder about how much I've traveled already, where I've been, and how when I tell stories I need to keep my past experiences in mind. I also realized that I should be sure to add more context when needed remembering that not everyone knows as much as I do about that particular place. Finally, my aha moment was on photography and being a bit more mindful of how I use it to tell my stories. An excellent course!" - Nicole Melancon

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