This presentation describes the evolution of a bystander workshop series within a large private university. The 2018 NASEM Report stresses the importance of creating organizational cultures of active support where the social norm is for harassing behaviors to be rare. For several years as part of an ADVANCE institutional transformation effort, workshops have been created to build bystander awareness and skill while exploring its history, research, benefits, and challenges. In 2016, a research focused and story gathering workshop was facilitated by an external consultant followed by a theatrical Playback Theatre based bystander workshop for faculty and staff where participant stories were used to bring issues to life. The following year, several more widely attended workshops were offered with a higher reliance on local actors through the newly created Diversity Theater program at the university. The college of liberal arts (CLA) saw value in the offerings and began working with campus partners on the design of annual workshops for college staff, faculty, and academic leaders. Through careful design and evaluation, each workshop set up the next workshop. The series involves 2-hour long, interactive workshops offered each fall. In the first year, participants engaged with Playback Theatre techniques to explore “Who is a bystander? Why do bystanders speak up or not? What are strategies?” The next fall, participants practiced and built skills using scenarios from meetings. The third year, power differentials were explored through answering questions “What if the bystander needs to speak up to a person with more POWER? Can several be ALLIES together?” This past fall, given that participants are versed in basic techniques and have tried or witnessed bystander moves, the session explored “How do I know if it is making a difference? Where can I go for broader systemic support?” This presentation explores impact and workshop evolution.

Date of creation, presentation, or exhibit



Poster presented at the Second Annual Public Summit of the Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education, October 19-20, 2020.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Mechanical Engineering (KGCOE)


RIT – Main Campus