Austin Shifflett

Austin Shifflett

Austin Shifflett is a Harvard 2020 graduate! During his undergraduate career, he enjoyed his time studying English with a specialization in poetry and the gothic tradition. Since graduating, he has worked with Curious Cardinals as both a mentor and the Director of Communications.


At Reach Academy, Austin is excited to return to the virtual classroom and explore concepts of identity, collaboration, and presentation through the art of storytelling. When he isn’t teaching or working with the Curious Cardinals community, he is spending time on the beach, reading fantasy-adventure novels, or playing the latest installment in the SoulsBorne series (Elden Ring fans, anyone?).

My Course

Choose Your Own Adventure: Redefining Heroism through RPG Storytelling

You find yourself walking down a bustling street in an unfamiliar town. Vendors on either side of the market are calling out, “Hello traveler! Care to sample our wares? Finest this side of the Great Canyon!” You pause momentarily before shuffling along, head down, attempting to avoid unwanted attention. As you continue for some time, jostling for position with other market-goers,  you notice a beggar in the street. He looks downtrodden and is currently being harassed by a particularly unfriendly town guardsman. You start to step forward, prepared to intervene if necessary but your guide, Djaco, rests a hand on your shoulder, silently asking you to stop.


You ignore him and continue to walk forward… or do you?


Welcome to the realm of morality and heroics! In this course, we will first redefine what it means to be a “hero,” from pop-culture examples, such as Tony Stark, to real-world examples like Greta Thunberg. Next, we go on our very own quest, which will respond and adapt to your decisions. Together, we will step into a world of imagination as you make choices that will determine your own path to greatness, truly discovering what it means for you to be the Hero of your own story.


Though I am a passionate and professional game master with over 400 hours of logged Dungeons and Dragons sessions, I assure you that no prior experience is required to enjoy and learn from this journey.


Capstone Project:

Students will leave this course with a more holistic and thoughtful definition of “being heroic.” They will defend their own actions through rhetoric and persuasion, as they reflect on what was or was not heroic about their quest and how they chose to approach it. They will also leave the course with a newfound appreciation for empathy and how it allows us to understand other perspectives and backgrounds with limited information.