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Staff Profile

Dr Catherine Heinemeyer

Lecturer in Arts and Ecological Justice

Profile image of Catherine Heinemeyer

I am a storyteller and researcher with a practice-based PhD in storytelling with adolescents, and extensive experience of both long- and short-term residencies in educational, mental health, heritage, ecological and community settings. My doctoral research was located within the International Centre for Arts and Narrative (ICAN) at York St John University and York Theatre Royal (see online portfolio). I am engaged in socially engaged theatre and storytelling practice, arts practice as research, and on the intersection between pedagogy and the climate and ecological crisis.


I teach on a variety of modules on undergraduate Drama, Theatre and Acting programmes, an MA module The Reflective Practitioner for all MA students in the departments of Performance and Production, and the 3rd year Psychology module Critical Approaches in Mental Health. I teach on the following undergraduate modules: 

  • Politically Engaged Practice 1 and 2
  • Dissertation module 
  • Independent Performance as Research
  • Critical Approaches in Mental Health.

In addition to Performance modules, I teach in the Psychology Department. I also teach on the The Reflective Practitioner (module for all MA students in Performance and Production departments). I teach on the following courses:

  • BA Drama: Education and Community
  • BA Drama and Theatre
  • BA Acting

I also teach on the MA programmes in the School of the Arts. This includes:

  • Community Music
  • Applied Theatre
  • Theatre and Performance
  • Music Composition
  • Music Production
  • Media Production.


My research and practice explore the potential of storytelling to provide an alternative channel for dialogue across social and generational barriers, in relation to mental health, and in the context of the climate and ecological crisis. My publications range across several main themes:

  • the intersection of youth activism and climate education
  • innovative approaches to collective storytelling for dialogue (e.g. my recent action research collaboration with the Faculty of Education at Leeds Beckett University, 'Journeys We Make', using Homer's Odyssey to facilitate creative dialogue around identity and migration in schools)
  • the role of storytelling in education and youth mental health provision the work of Out Of Character Theatre Company and Converge York, its sister organisation. 

I seek to disseminate my work, wherever possible, not only through academic publications but through video, podcast, performances, accessible practitioner journals, conferences and training workshops.



Heinemeyer, C. (2020) Storytelling in participatory arts with young people: the gaps in the story. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Peer-reviewed articles

Heinemeyer C, Birch P and Rowe N (forthcoming) ‘The promise and pain of devising as deliberative democracy: Out Of Character Theatre Company’s Fresh Visions trilogy’, Research in Drama Education: the journal of applied theatre and performance.

Heinemeyer C (forthcoming) ‘The lessons of Covid for climate pedagogy with young people: Learning to navigate urgency’, in Turok-Squire R (ed.) COVID-19 and Education in the Global North: Storytelling as Alternative Pedagogies, Palgrave Macmillan.

Heinemeyer C  (2020) Figures on a windswept shore: the interplay of aloneness and communitas in oral storytelling. Paedagogia Christiana, 45 (1). 123-135.

Heinemeyer C (2020) Dialogic storytelling in participatory arts with young people: the gaps in the story. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Heinemeyer, C. and Rowe, N. (2020) ‘Being known, branching out: troupes, teams and recovery’, Mental Health Review Journal 24(3), 212-227.

Heinemeyer, C. (2019) ‘’Roving’ and recovery in storytelling for mental health: reclaiming the city, resingularising ourselves, Storytelling, Self, Society 15(1), 13-30.

Heinemeyer, C. and Durham, S. (2017) 'Is narrative an endangered species in schools? Secondary pupils' understanding of "storyknowing"', Research in Education 99:1, 31-55.

Reason, M. and Heinemeyer, C. (2016) ‘Storytelling, Story-retelling, Storyknowing: Towards a Participatory Practice of Storytelling.’ Research in Drama Education 21:4, 558-573.

Non-peer-reviewed articles (for practitioner readership)

Heinemeyer, C. (2019) ‘The whole story, the whole student: ‘big’ stories as a playground for dialogic learning’, The Uses of English 70 (2), 6-14.

Heinemeyer, C. (2018) 'Adventures in storyhacking: facilitating indirect inter-community dialogue through storytelling'. Teaching Artist Journal 16, 3-6.

Book chapters

Heinemeyer C (forthcoming) ‘The lessons of Covid for climate pedagogy with young people: Learning to navigate urgency’, in Turok-Squire R (ed.) COVID-19 and Education in the Global North: Storytelling as Alternative Pedagogies, Palgrave Macmillan.

Heinemeyer, C. and Subramaniam, S. (2019) ‘The Other Bull’. In King, L. and Edgar, R. (eds.) Science Fiction for Survival: An archive for Mars. Terra Two Anthology: Volume One. Scarborough: Valley Press.

Heinemeyer, C. (2017) 'Embracing indeterminacy in participatory storytelling'. In Reason, M. and Rowe, N. (eds.) Applied Practice: Evidence and Impact in Theatre, Music and Art,​ London: Methuen Drama, 238-245.

Pitt, J. and Heinemeyer, C. (2015) ‘Introducing Ideas of a Circular Economy’, pp.245-260 in Stables, K. and Keirl, S. (eds.) (2015) Environment, Ethics and Cultures: Design and Technology Education’s Contribution to Sustainable Global Futures. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Online articles

Heinemeyer, C. (2018) ‘Mental health crisis in teens is being magnified by demise of creative subjects in school’,, 3 Sept 2018. (2nd most read article by any YSJU author)

Heinemeyer, C. (2018) ‘The dying art of storytelling in the classroom’,, 11th April 2018.

Heinemeyer, C. (2017) ‘Is narrative an endangered species in UK schools?’, Oracy Cambridge blog, 10 Dec 2017.

Book review

Maguire, T. (2015) Performing Story on the Contemporary Stage. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. New Theatre Quarterly 31:4, Nov 2015, p.399.

Online research portfolios

Heinemeyer, C. (2013-present) Storyknowing with Adolescents,

Heinemeyer, C. and Godwin, I. (2016-2017) Things As They Are,

Selected keynote conference addresses

‘Open spaces in the school habitat’. At Imagine if… creative arts and cultural experiences supported children’s mental health from birth to adulthood. Annual Conference for school leaders and arts practitioners, Culture Bridge North-East. Great North Museum, Newcastle Upon Tyne. Forthcoming: 13 Nov 2019.

‘Journeys We Make: research through collaborative storytelling’. At Creativities in Educational Research: Weaving and Entanglements, C-SPACE, Birmingham City University, 3 July 2018.

‘”Some of us picture the images in our heads”: the essential role of storytelling in SEN groups’. SENCOs’ Annual Conference, Leeds Beckett University, 18 Jan 2017.

‘Story as research in postnormal times’. At How the gypsies got their music: the future of storytelling research. University of Warwick, 28 Nov 2016.

‘A dialogue in another room: meetings with young people through story’. At Listen to my story, UK Council for Psychotherapy Children’s Faculty Annual Conference, York St John University, 4 July 2015.

Professional Activities

Together with Jude Parks I co-coordinate the Ecological Justice Research Group, a cross-disciplinary research group hosted by the Institute for Social Justice. I also contribute to initiatives across the university, such as Green Week, and the Conversations in Social Justice podcast, to infuse ecological justice into pedagogy and university life.

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