Unsilence fills a critical gap in civics education. Through storytelling, the arts, and serious games, we unsilence hidden histories, injustices, and marginalized voices. We spark dialogue, support critical thinking, and build empathy to inspire healing and social change.
WHAT DO We 'UNSILENCE'?
HIDDEN INJUSTICES FROM HISTORY TO TODAY Unsilence helps communities talk about hidden injustices that can be difficult to talk about. Our work focuses on the process of unsilencing injustices that communities care about, including:
hidden histories of atrocity
hidden Holocaust histories
mental health and suicide
gun violence and family grief
sexual and domestic violence
political asylum and refugee rights
mass incarceration and systemic racism
transgender, lesbian, gay, and bisexual rights
girls’ and women’s rights
genocide, perpetratorship, and delayed justice
and many other issues.
Unsilence addresses a broad range of issues, because specific human rights do not exist in isolation; they are interconnected. International agreements like TheUniversal Declaration of Human Rights provide a foundation for our work. Through our on-the-ground programs, partnerships, and local groups, communities get to decide for themselves which injustices are most relevant and urgent.
Young people are our primary audience Unsilence delivers leadership training for young people. To do this, engaging educators is key. We train middle school teachers, high school teachers, and informal educators to support young people to learn about human rights, break taboos, and take informed action.
Real change only happens through cross-society dialogue Every level of a community must be engaged and supportive of the young people and educators working to unsilence injustice. That's why we also train administrative staff, parents, and policymakers in the field of education and in social services, including social workers and health professionals. We also educate the public through community programs and events.
WHAT IS OUR REACH & IMPACT?
INSPIRING EMPATHY IN 15,000 PEOPLE ACROSS 16 STATES
So far, Unsilence programs have reached more than 15,750 individuals across 18 politically diverse states and 5 countries in more than 115 communities. So far, we have trained more than 3,900 educators, and approximately 5,700 teens and 1,400 college students.
95% of Unsilence workshop participants report that they are more comfortable engaging in difficult conversations about injustice and a 2019 study of Unsilence online and in-person learning experiences shows a statistically significant increase in social empathy.
Unsilence works with schools, museums, youth centers, communities of faith, institutions, and in public spaces. Based in Chicago, we have a local, national, and international reach, including: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Washington D.C., as well as Germany, Israel, Poland, and the U.K.
Unsilence uses the power of storytelling, the arts, and serious games to engage young people and educators in highly-interactive learning experiences. Young people learn how to identify root causes of silencing and engage in difficult conversations about injustice, leading them to learn how to bridge perspectives, break down ingrained stigmas, and build collective empathy and understanding and heal together.
In-person learning experiences and leadership trainings follow our FRAMEWORK and support young people explore how and why certain human rights become hidden. Unsilence's online content, all driven by interactive storytelling, are FREE to use and include:
The vision of Unsilence is for a just society that values all voices. Unsilence programs seek to shed light on hidden human rights. By giving voice to the marginalized and confronting social stigmas, Unsilence programs and content help young people and the public engage in meaningful dialogue, take action against injustice, build bridges with others, and create solutions to heal our communities.
HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED IN unsilence?
BOOK A PROGRAM & JOIN OUR COMMUNITY
Unsilence offers customized programs for schools, communities, and institutions, as well as keynote interactive lectures for special events and the public. We also sometimes have opportunities to volunteer. We would love to hear from you.
Unsilence grew out of the doctoral research of learning scientist and fiction writer Danny M. Cohen, under the supervision of Brian Reiser, Phyllis Lassner, Carol D. Lee, and Edd V. Taylor at Northwestern University's School of Education and Social Policy. Danny's study of educators at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center led to his piloting, starting in 2010, of Holocaust and human rights education and teacher training programs to help schools and communities "unsilence" marginalized historical and contemporary narratives. Advised by fellow learning scientists and human rights educators, including Stacey Mann, Kelley H. Szany, and Alexis S. Morrisroe, the creation of groundbreaking learning experiences and a Framework of Unsilencing led to the founding of Unsilence as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2014. In 2022, to streamline its program delivery model, Unsilence ended its 501(c)(3) status. Unsilence continues to offer educational experiences across the country - youth workshops, educator trainings, and public programs - including pro-bono live programs and free online learning experiences.