The Transformative Language Arts Concentration is the intentional use of the written, spoken and sung word for individual and community growth, development, celebration and transformation. In the tradition of Tikkum Olam, the Hebrew phrase that means putting back together the broken world, the Transformative Language Arts Concentration draws upon creative writing, storytelling, songwriting, drama, performance, as well as other forms of written and oral communication, that contribute to naming and honoring individual and community experience, perceptions, voice and vision.

Goddard College has a special learning partnership with the Transformative Language Arts (TLA) Network. Goddard offers students who have completed the Transformative Language Arts Foundations certificate receive a Partnership Grant upon enrollment at the college. Read more about the Goddard-TLA Network partnership.

Core Concepts

Graduates of this concentration should develop the following core competencies over the course of their studies. 


We encourage you to deeply consider ethical considerations involved in your community Transformative Language Arts work, including reflecting upon the Transformative Language Arts code of ethics or creating your own code that is discussed and approved by Goddard faculty. Transformational work is sometimes risky work, so it’s essential to cultivate great clarity about how to use Transformative Language Arts Concentration effectively.


By becoming familiar and experienced with how to encourage expression, participation, active listening and creativity in Transformative Language Arts delivery – whether in facilitating, coaching, consulting, or collaborating with groups or individuals, or collaborating with you begin, or further develop, your lifelong art of ethical facilitation. Effective facilitation entails facilitating positive change in a safe, respectful climate, with appropriate methods of establishing the group, evaluating evidence of change, and clearly understanding the ethical dimensions of being a facilitator of a Transformative Language Arts process. It also entails understanding the limits of being a facilitator, including making appropriate referrals when needed.

General Knowledge of Transformative Language Arts Theory and Practice

By educating yourself about established and emerging Transformative Language Arts modalities, fields, traditions, and various applications of Transformative Language Arts, you learn more about how to design, implement and assess your individual and community Transformative Language Arts work. You also learn about the context of this work. Furthermore, since Transformative Language Arts  is an emerging academic field that draws on the intersection of existing fields, your immersion in theory can help you contribute to identifying and developing Transformative Language Arts theory in general and/or for specific situations or populations. Such research, and development of Transformative Language Arts  theory, contributes to the overall growth of Transformative Language Arts in the world.

Interdisciplinary Context

Deep reflection, thoughtful observation and wide-eyed exploration on the big–interdisciplinary–picture surrounding your focus of study will help you contextualize why and how Transformative Language Arts is needed, as well as how it can apply to your particular focus of study. For example, someone looking at ecopoetics could study ecology, poetics, nature writing, environmental education, and the environmental and cultural conditions that create the need and possibilities for ecopoetics.

Deep Knowledge in Focus of Study

Because a master’s program cannot cover everything, we encourage you to develop one focus of study, such as writing to aid the grieving process, storytelling in palliative care, creating a dramatic monologue curriculum for inner-city Latino youth, research on how expressive writing during serious illness helps aid recovery, the need for spoken word performance projects for underserved teens, developing theory around community-building and storytelling in rural communities, combining art and storytelling for elders. Study the fields and traditions intersecting at this focus of study; prominent thinkers and writers who have focused on this area of study; and your own responses and ideas on route to forging your own vision.

One of the keystones of Transformative Language Arts is your development as a transformative language artist at the same time you study Transformative Language Arts possibilities for community and culture. We expect you to deepen your artistic practice as a storyteller, writer, actor, performer, or other artist of Transformative Language Arts. Such an artistic practice enables you to experience firsthand the transformative power of the language arts, embody your process of creativity, reflect upon your experience and its applicability for others, and develop tools and approaches for facilitatingTransformative Language Arts  in your community.

Contextualization of Your Individual Artistic Practice

To enhance your artistic practice with language, and to better understand the place your practice has in this culture entails learning about the genre and/or media of your Transformative Language Arts practice. Storytellers focusing on community-building, for example, will need to learn about the historic roots of the oral tradition, as well as how storytelling is employed today in various cultures for strengthening community. Such study can help you more clearly see the overall context of your writing, storytelling, drama, etc., what you are contributing to the world, and what fields and traditions help shape your contribution.

Criteria for Graduation

Those working toward the Transformative Language Arts Concentration are required to fulfill the degree requirements of the Individualized Master of Arts. You will accomplish this when you have met these specific Transformative Language Arts degree criteria:

  1. Reflection/Integration: Developed a personal identity essay over the course of many semesters that demonstrates an understanding of who you are in relation to community, culture, and Transformative Language Arts. A final revision of this essay is to be submitted with the Final Product/Thesis.
  2. Theoretical Grounding: Demonstrated a theoretical grounding in the most pertinent cultural, historic, educational, psychological, sociological, literary and linguistic, anthropological, spiritual and/or other areas of Transformative Language Arts.
  3. Individual Transformative Language Arts Practice: Documented a personal Transformative Language Arts practice using spoken and/or written word in packet work, in consultation with advisors, and in the Final Product/Thesis.
  4. Community Practicum: Engaged in a community-based practicum and documented the experience through journaling, on-line seminars, and the practicum portfolio.
  5. Mastery: Demonstrated mastery that represents a unique intersection of the more defined focus of study that you have identified and agreed upon with your faculty advisors, and the ability to situate it in the context of Transformative Language Arts as a whole.
  6. Final Product Thesis: Completed an integrative final product/thesis that exemplifies the fulfillment of the degree criteria and includes the personal identity essay, learning from your individual practice and practicum experience, as well as a breadth of understanding of Transformative Language Arts as it applies to your focus.