The New Science of Narrative Intelligence


Angus Fletcher

BS neuroscience, Univ. of Michigan; PhD literature, Yale
Professor of Story Science
Project Narrative, Ohio State University

In conversation with:

Carol Han

96'CC, Strategic Communications and Humanitarian Information Division Chief

Every time we think ahead, we are crafting a story. Every daily plan—and every political vision, social movement, scientific hypothesis, business proposal, and technological breakthrough—starts with “what if?” Linking causes to effects, considering hypotheticals and counterfactuals, asking how other people will react: these are the essence of narrative. So why do we keep overlooking story’s importance to intelligence in favor of logic?

In this presentation, Prof. Angus Fletcher of the Project Narrative at OSU, the world’s leading academic think-tank on the topic, explains how and why our brains think in stories. Fletcher, an expert in neuroscientific approaches to narrative, identifies this capacity as “storythinking.” He demonstrates that storythinking is fundamental to what makes us human. Artificial intelligence can perform symbolic logic, rational deduction, and mathematical calculation, but it is incapable of deliberating in narrative. Drawing on new research in neuroscience and narrative theory, Fletcher explores the nature of imagination, innovation, and creativity. He provides concise answers to big questions: How does storythinking work? Why did it evolve? How can it misfire? What problems can it solve?

Time will be allocated for Q&A.

Cosponsored by:
  • Yale Club of Washington DC

This program is part of the ColumbiaDC CUP series.

"Storythinking is absolutely excellent: a much-needed reminder of and expansion on the transformative power of story, story as an enriched form of learning and as a valid epistemology. The book is a lovely, readable addition to academic and public life. I am eager to see the use of story resurrected!" Lisa Miller, Ph.D., Professor & Founder, Spirituality Mind Body Institute, Teachers College, Columbia University

Picture1.jpgAngus Fletcher is professor of story science at Ohio State University’s Project Narrative. His most recent book is Wonderworks: The 25 Most Powerful Inventions in the History of Literature (2021). His research has been published in journals such as Harvard Business Review and Annals of the New York Academy of Science.

Picture1.jpgCarol Han is the Strategic Communications and Humanitarian Information Division Chief for USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. She joined USAID after a career in broadcast journalism, and has since stood up and led several communications teams, as well as served as a press officer on more than 20 USAID-led disaster responses. Prior to joining USAID, Carol worked as an Emmy award-winning TV news correspondent and reporter for almost 13 years, most recently covering Capitol Hill and the White House for 11 local TV stations and three radio stations around the country. She also worked as a general assignment reporter and fill-in anchor for the CBS station in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and for the NBC affiliate in Fargo, North Dakota.

October 11, 2023 at 6:30pm - 8pm


Washington, DC
United States

Miyako Yerick


Will you come?