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CoLA events explore the power of stories

A Feb. 11 panel discussion, "The Power of Stories in the Liberal Arts," will draw together Emory faculty from different disciplines to discuss how storytelling and narrative have informed their research and scholarship.

Co-sponsored by the Coalition of the Liberal Arts (CoLA) and the Division of Campus Life, the free public forum will run from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the Jones Room of the Woodruff Library. A reception will follow.

Moderated by Brett Gadsden, associate professor of history and African American studies, the cross-university panel will showcase the insights and experiences of three Emory faculty members as they discuss how stories — from bestselling novels to narratives about family and self affect the ways in which we live our lives.

 Panelists include:

  • Marshall Duke, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology
  • Bill Eley, professor in the School of Medicine and executive associate dean of medical education and student affairs, graduate medical education and continuing medical education
  • Kim Loudermilk, senior lecturer, Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts

The panelists will highlight the relevance of storytelling and narrative as it relates to their scholarly research and will also discuss the intersections of their work.

The public forum is part of "CoLA Critical Conversations: The Emory Story Project," one of several initiatives that arose from recommendations released last semester in a report from the Commission on the Liberal Arts, which in 2012 was charged to engage in a robust examination of the future of the liberal arts at Emory. 

Stories are powerful frameworks for creating and transmitting information, values and life lessons, and have been increasingly important in pedagogical settings, says CoLA Chair Robyn Fivish, associate vice provost of academic innovation and Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Psychology.

"The Emory Story Project events exemplify what the Coalition of the Liberal Arts is trying to accomplish through our Critical Conversations," she adds.

"These events will bring together faculty, students, alumni and staff in a continuing conversation about the meaning and value of a liberal arts education, and will build intellectual community across the university and across experiences inside and outside of the classroom through personal and institutional stories about the liberal arts."

The Emory Story Project will create a shared personal and intellectual experience about the power of stories of the liberal arts through the launch of two major events: The Feb. 11 public panel discussion and "Storytelling: A conversation with Salman Rushdie" on Feb. 19, which is available by invitation.

Follow-up events are in the planning stages, Fivush says. For more information, visit

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