Week 2

by Zach Harbauer

Readings Going Into the Week:

Prior to the beginning of week two we read and watched a video on the concept of public narrative. Marshal Ganz in his piece, “Public Narrative: Collection and Action” discusses key issues that organizations have to face in order to be successful. He talks about storytelling, in particular telling stories of the “now”, “self,” and “us.” He makes the statement that public narratives are key to to creating sustainable organizations. By crafting narratives that speak on the nature of the organization open avenues to successful recruitment and long term retention. Important vocabulary used in his writing are “agency,” “self-interest,” “urgency” and “motivation.” These concepts will be defined later in this blog post but these vocabulary words set the stage.

Our conversations were also informed by theories of community organizing and direct action organizing: https://sites.google.com/boisestate.edu/ethosprojectboise/readings?authuser=1

Note from Dr. Myers to provide context:

The goal this week was to use existing theory as a starting point for building our own theoretical frameworks for Ethos. In other words, instead of adopting an existing theory for the Ethos Project, our goal was to adapt theory and make it our own. The first step we took was to list all of the key concepts from the readings. From there, we selected the concepts that felt most pressing and relevant to our work. Then, the students worked in pairs to develop the concepts into workable theories that can be utilized in the Ethos Project organization.

Back to Zach…


To start the week off we split into pairs to create visual representations of how to create an organization that succeeds in integrating people as well as pursuing our visions and our passions. The first model we discussed was created by Presley and myself.

We created a model which utilized circles (I love circles) and focused on the overlap between key issues. Our model has no particular order but rather focuses on how motivation and relationships are built. We believe that three most pressing matters are the concepts of stories, urgency and self-interest. When you craft stories and combine it by creating a sense of urgency then you arrive at the creation of an organization’s values. And when you combine urgency and a person’s self interest you create a sense of agency. The concepts combined lend themselves to the creation of motivation as well as relationships. A key concept to keep in mind when using this model is that there is no particular order in which these are created but rather is simultaneous in nature.

The second model we discussed was crafted by Candice and Kelsea.

Their focus was on how to create a team and accomplish established goals. It followed a sequential order of establishing self interest, discussing shared identities, followed by building relationships. When we follow this order we find our sense of integrity and core values. Once that is done we create agency and then a sense of urgency. One of the most important concepts to understanding when reading this model is knowing that it follows a sequential order in which steps are taken to build upon themselves.

We then discussed potential changes to the structure of the Ethos Symposium to better fill the needs of the university. Overall the day was spent figuring out how to establish our identity as an organization and find a model that fits within that framework.


The majority of Tuesday was spent analyzing what are the needs of the students at Boise State University. We accomplished this by doing research on what the demographic of BSU is. We focused on questions of who goes to Boise State, what exactly does the population look like. We found reports done by the university as well as infographic that paint a picture of our students. One source I found broke down the demographics into and easily understood display. You can follow the link at https://news.boisestate.edu/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2011/08/2016-2017-Boise-State-Facts-and-Figures-online.pdf

We picked out what the key issues are by doing this research. We found that nearly 75% of BSU students are caucasians and many students commute but there is also a massive expansion of the number of on campus freshmen.

Following the topic of public narratives, we discussed what the story of BSU is and how the and how the university is selling it. We picked out key topics that we believe the university is using to recruit potential students. We came up with a massive list and the image above summarizes what we picked out (the explicit and implicit “story of us”). We then tried to figure out how we can divide the population of BSU students. We split the student body into three distinct categories. These three categories were Residential (people near campus), the Boise Community (people living in close proximity to campus) and finally commuters who live further away and are often not involved in campus matters.

From this break down we attempted to establish what the needs are, an issue we are still trying to answer.


On Wednesday we discussed what the narrative behind BSU is. We figured out that the story BSU is trying to sell is that the school in on the rise. However we found this particularly problematic as growth in and of itself is not an identity, but rather a descriptor. The school is trying to focus on the growth of our STEM departments, the iconic blue turf and other things of that matter.

What we saw is that the university is doing little in regards to the experience of BSU students. That’s where the Ethos Project comes in. We are attempting to redefine what it means to be a Bronco. We are trying to establish a collective identity to bring isolated groups on campus together. We believe that innovation is happening and if I may borrow a phrase, this innovation is happening in “silos.” We think that we need to create relationships on campus that keep people connected.

We then discussed the concepts of mantras and mottos. Mantras are things we say within our organization and mottos are things we share with others. The following image summarizes what we believe are the mantras and mottos and the Ethos Project.

Overall this week was an attempt to figure out what the needs of our students are. We discussed how the university is attempting to resolve these needs but the Ethos Project is an attempt to fill the gaps the university policies have created.

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