Skip to main content

This Northwestern Life

A Storytelling initiative

In partnership with the Office of Residential Academic Initiatives, the Kaplan Humanities Institute presents This Northwestern Life, a new initiative that introduces Northwestern undergrads to storytelling as a tool for scholarship, brings together storytellers from around campus, and builds to a final storytelling competition with cash prizes! The program will bring established storytellers from around Chicago and Evanston to share, collaborate, and teach, introducing students to the concepts and techniques of live nonfiction storytelling through performances, workshops, panels, and other events. This Northwestern Life will culminate in a campus-wide storytelling competition in early May 2019, with the winners performing at at a live arts event. Details are below! 

Campus-wide Storytelling Competition

Submit your original writing!

All Northwestern undergraduates—from any school, any year—are invited to submit an original piece of non-fiction prose addressing the theme of SECURITY. Consider interpretations of “security” in different domains—as an ethical goal, a rationale for injustice, surveillance, stability, or something else altogether. It can be a reason we feel safe or an excuse for discrimination. We can feel secure financially or physically, in relationships, or in ourselves. How has "security" shaped your life?

For more inspiration, the Kaplan Institute's year-long Dialogue theme is Security; check out the range of topics here.

Note: The piece must be no longer than five minutes.


The top ten winners will read their work at the This Northwestern Life: LIVE event. Cash prizes will also be awarded:

Deadline and notification

Deadline to submit is Wednesday, May 1, 2019.  Winners will be notified by May 10th and will perform their winning piece on May 16 at This Northwestern Life: LIVE!

Submission instructions

Email your submission as an attachment to Submissions can be in the form of a document (750 word limit) or an .mp4 file (5 minute limit).


Storytelling Perspectives: Performance followed by Q&A

Monday, February 25, 2019
7:00 - 8:30 pm
Willard B72

Come see what storytelling is all about! Performances and conversation with Northwestern artist in residence and author Megan Stielstra and local storytelling professional Aimy Tien (2nd Story). Pizza will be served.


Tell Your Story: A Workshop with Megan Stielstra

Friday, April 12, 2019
1:00 - 3:00 pm
Shepard B25

A two-hour introduction to storytelling for everyone. Cookies and snacks will be served. Space is limited — sign up for a spot at


This Northwestern Life: LIVE!

Thursday, May 16, 2019
7:00 pm
Willard B72

A celebration with food and live readings by the ten winners of the campus-wide storytelling competition.


Related Events

More opportunities to participate, learn, and connect to the Northwestern storytelling community.

Get involved

Are you part of a club or organization that tells stories in a uniquely interesting way? We have funds to help you share that knowledge and skill with the rest of the Northwestern community! Contact Emily at the Kaplan Humanities Institute ( to participate. 

Get connected


Twitter: @ThisNULife

Instagram: @ThisNorthwesternLife

Back to top