Dominant Narratives

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This guide provides a discussion-based lesson plan on dominant narratives. A dominant narrative is an explanation or story that is told in service of the dominant social group’s interests and ideologies. It usually achieves dominance through repetition, the apparent authority of the speaker (often accorded to speakers who represent the dominant social groups), and the silencing of alternative accounts. Because dominant narratives are so normalized through their repetition and authority, they have the illusion of being objective and apolitical, when in fact they are neither. This discussion guide will help students recognize dominant narratives, how they are perpetuated, and how and whom they benefit/harm.

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Key Legend

Amount of class time to complete the activity

   Short activity: 10-15 minutes


  Medium length activity:  20-30 minutes


   Long activity: 60+ minutes



Logistical complexity: Materials or steps needed to facilitate an activity

Low: Little preparation or materials are needed to facilitate this activity.


Moderate: There are some materials and steps that are needed that instructors will need to be aware of before facilitating.


High: This is a complex activity requiring multiple steps and/or materials. We recommend reading our preparation materials  in advance carefully.

Inclusive Teaching Experience: Amount of prior experience in inclusive teaching strategies needed 

 Low: All instructors could facilitate this activity with a short overview of the activity.


Moderate: Instructors could facilitate this activity and debrief it with moderate experience with inclusive teaching, including the reading of our self-preparation materials.


High: Instructors should read our self-preparation materials before conducting this activity. Faculty should be comfortable handling difficult conversations or emotions in the classroom. This activity might be tried after the successful implementation of activities needing less experience.

Level of scaffolding needed: How much student preparation is needed before doing an activity.

low scaffolding

Low scaffolding: This activity could be done with little in-class preparation, and/or early in the semester.


moderate scaffolding

Moderate scaffolding: This activity may need a reading or short prep work to understand the point of the activity, and/or to facilitate positive student interaction.


High scaffolding: This activity may need a strong classroom community, come after other course content/readings are introduced, and/or be used late in the semester.