Narrative Matters (NM) is an interdisciplinary conference that takes place in different countries on a biennial basis. The aim of these events has been to foster a cross-disciplinary community of scholars, researchers, and practitioners committed to exploring the storied complexity of human life on a variety of levels: experiential, emotional, interpersonal, cultural, political, spiritual, etc. Disciplines represented by those who attend NM include, but are by no means limited to, psychology, sociology, gerontology, history, philosophy, education, medicine, social work, religious studies, literary studies, ethics, and the arts.
To date, NM conferences have been planned on a conference-by-conference basis only, with representatives of particular institutions volunteering to organize the next event more or less on their own. A small group of us (Brian Schiff, Anneke Sools, Hanna Meretoja, Mark Freeman, and Bill Randall) have been meeting on an ad hoc basis to discuss the formation of a Narrative Matters Steering Committee (NMSC) that would provide a measure of formalization to this arrangement and to ensure the continuity and flourishing of the interdisciplinary NM “community” going forward. The goal of this committee is to put into place a structure that will support decision making and operations of the conference into the future.
In addition, we are suggesting that a Narrative Matters Advisory Board (NMAB) be set up that would be composed of a larger number of individuals (e.g., 10 to 12) who are selected, or elected, with due consideration to issues of balance in terms of discipline, gender, age, region of the world, etc.
As part of our deliberations, we are reaching out to the NM community for feedback. We will host an open discussion of our plans at NM2023 Tampere. Although we are open to hearing any thoughts/comments/cautions from the community, we are particularly interested in the following questions:
- How much formalization does the NM community want/need?
- How would people like to be involved in decision making processes?
- How should people be selected to the steering committee and advisory board? (e.g., a process of nomination?).
- What else might be done to support and strengthen the NM community going forward?