ATLANTA/MACON – Mercer University's College of Continuing and Professional Studies has received a $45,000 grant to launch its new Center for the Study of Narrative (CRN), a multidisciplinary service and research initiative.
The CRN, housed within the College's Department of Counseling and Human Sciences, will call upon a variety of academic disciplines – including communications, psychology, sociology, human services, literary studies and writing, historical studies, and counseling – and use a variety of both qualitative and quantitative research methods to study the lives of individuals and cultures, giving students practical education while promoting community outreach and service.
The CRN will also provide a forum for citizens to tell unique personal stories while students learn and develop skills, such as writing, storytelling, active listening, genealogical construction and techniques of narrative analysis.
“Our hope is that the Center will bring together faculty and students and the work underway in so many of Mercer's schools and colleges to explore the role of telling and hearing personal stories in perspective-taking, questioning, and understanding,” said Dr. Priscilla Danheiser, dean of the College of Continuing and Professional Studies.
The service-learning work of the CRN comes out of a tradition of narrative theory and narrative therapy/counseling. Narrative theory is a multidisciplinary effort to understand how stories help people make sense of the world and how people make sense of stories. Narrative therapy/counseling places importance upon narrative as stories of people's lives that can be changed through particular tellings and retellings. Through people's many skills, competencies, beliefs, values, commitments and abilities, they can reduce the influence of problems in their lives by re-authoring their own stories.
“The Center will target several areas of Mercer's 10-year strategic plan, including service learning, learning in community, 'challenging, holistic, and transformational learning,' and the development of signature programs encouraging interdisciplinary dialogue and collaborative research among disciplines,” said Dr. Donald B. Redmond, assistant professor of counseling and project director for the CRN. “The Center will be especially helpful to our burgeoning Ph.D. program in counselor education and supervision and will provide additional scholarship money for dissertation research that is narrative in nature.”
The Georgia Compassion Project, a private, non-profit granting organization, provided the funding for the Center.
“We are grateful to our Mercer colleagues and administrators and the board of the Georgia Compassion Project for their support of this exciting initiative,” said Dr. Redmond.