ATLANTA – Mercer University’s College of Professional Advancement on May 16-19 will serve as host of the 10th Narrative Matters Conference, a biennial interdisciplinary conference being held in the U.S. for the first time.

Scholars and practitioners from around the world will gather on Mercer’s Cecil B. Day Campus in Atlanta to explore themes related to narratives and their power to move and transform people on intellectual, emotional, moral, spiritual and political levels, among others.

“We are thrilled to host such an accomplished and diverse group of scholars, researchers and practitioners and expand the reach of narrative ideas in the Mercer community and beyond,” said Dr. Don Redmond, associate professor of counseling and director of Mercer’s Center for the Study of Narrative.

Several pre-conference workshops will be held on Monday, May 16, followed by three days of speakers, sessions and poster presentations. Festivities include an opening reception at the Center for Civil and Human Rights on Tuesday, May 17, at 7 p.m. A full schedule of events, along with pricing and other details, can be found on the Center for the Study of Narrative website.

Keynote speakers for the conference include Pulitzer Prize and National Humanities Medal winner Isabel Wilkerson and renowned professor of psychology and human development and social policy at Northwestern University Dr. Dan McAdams.

Isabel Wilkerson
Isabel Wilkerson

Wilkerson’s debut work, The Warmth of Other Suns, won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Award for Nonfiction, the Lynton History Prize from Harvard and Columbia universities, and the Stephen Ambrose Oral History Prize, and was shortlisted for both the Pen-Galbraith Literary Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

A native of Washington, D.C., she won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 1994 as Chicago bureau chief of The New York Times, becoming the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism. She then devoted 15 years and interviewed more than 1,200 people to tell the story of the 6 million people, among them her parents, who defected from the Jim Crow South.

Wilkerson’s new book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, was acclaimed by venerable U.K. bookseller Waterstone’s as an “expansive, lyrical, and stirring account of the unspoken system of divisions that govern our world.”

Dr. Dan McAdams
Dr. Dan McAdams

Dr. McAdams serves as Henry Wade Rogers Professor of Psychology and professor of human development and social policy at Northwestern.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Valparaiso University in 1976 and his Ph.D. in psychology and social relations from Harvard University in 1979.

Honored as a Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence at Northwestern, Dr. McAdams teaches courses on Personality Psychology, Adult Development and Aging, Theories of Personality and Development, and the Literatures of Identity and Generativity.

While any discipline can find a connection to Narrative Matters, previous conferences have had presenters in the fields of nursing, education, gerontology, theology, law, medicine and many social science disciplines.

Within Mercer’s Center for the Study of Narrative and College of Professional Advancement, faculty in counseling, history, science, the sociology of religion, journalism, creative writing and mathematics have conducted funded narrative-related research and outreach.

The Center for the Study of Narrative is a multidisciplinary initiative housed within the College of Professional Advancement incorporating counseling, theology, psychology, sociology and literary studies, among others. Faculty and student collaborators emphasize qualitative research methods and “story listening” to study the lives of individuals and larger populations.

About the College of Professional Advancement

Mercer University’s College of Professional Advancement is committed to serving post-traditional learners. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary experiences that integrate theory and practice. In addition to providing general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer, the College of Professional Advancement offers degree programs in areas including technology, public safety, public and human services, leadership and administration, health care and liberal arts. Programs are offered on Mercer’s campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as Regional Academic Centers in Douglas County and Henry County, and online. To learn more, visit