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Narrative in the Natural Sciences and Humanities

General Programming

dateFebruary 28–1, 2019 location Faculty House, Columbia University
  • Center for Science and Society
  • Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
  • The Department of History
  • Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
  • The Narrative Medicine program
  • Caveat
  • John Templeton Foundation
  • Registration required. See details.
  • Free and open to the public
  • First come, first seated

While all disciplines employ narrative in their work to summarize and communicate their theories, methods, and results, the realm of narrating (more colloquially known as storytelling) has traditionally been considered a literary or historical endeavor under the purview of the humanities and social sciences. This is no longer the case. As evidenced by the burgeoning fields of narrative medicine and science communication, narratives and narrating are also important tools for the natural sciences. Neuroscientists have even recently proposed that “narrative” may be a better way of theorizing about the processes by which the brain represents the context used to sort and order memories in order to create a timeline of events. In light of this development, the conference seeks to explore the following topics:

  • What “narrative” means, and the role it plays, in the humanities, social sciences, journalism, law, the natural sciences, and medicine.
  • Why humans create narratives--perspectives from anthropology to neuroscience.
  • Narrating with “qualitative” and with “quantitative” data.
  • Communicating to the public through narratives and storytelling.

This symposium follows on the conference, Evidence: An Interdisciplinary Conversation about Knowing and Certainty, held at Columbia University on April 21-22, 2017 and The Success of Failure: Perspectives from the Arts, Sciences, Humanities, Education, and Law, held at Columbia University on December 7-8, 2017. Similar in format, speakers from different disciplines are invited to share their perspective and then engage in a moderated discussion. The conference also includes a public keynote lecture and a workshop for students on science communication that will allow participants to put what they have learned from the conference into practice.

Event Information:

Wednesday, February 27 6:00pm-8:30pm at CAVEAT, 21 A Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002
Thursday, February 28 8:30am-7:00pm at Faculty House, Columbia University
Friday, March 1 8:30am-4:30pm at Faculty House, Columbia University

This conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required via Eventbrite. Please email Project Manager Roshana Nabi ([email protected]) with any questions.