McDowell to present keynote on data storytelling

Kate McDowell
Kate McDowell, Associate Professor

Associate Professor Kate McDowell will present the closing keynote of the Measures of Success Educator Impact Series at Western Michigan University (WMU) on March 21. The virtual series, which is sponsored by the WMUx Office of Faculty Development, focuses on equity and educator impact.

In her keynote, "Data Storytelling Strategies," McDowell will introduce tools that anyone can use to "break down the dynamic process of storytelling into achievable steps." These steps include an introduction to storytelling thinking, classic advocacy arguments, evidence and forms of data for those arguments, narrative strategies that draw from common story structures, and tone and tactics for engaging storytelling with different audience attitudes.

"One of the most critical things we can do to support institutions of higher education in challenging times is to be prepared, formally and in casual conversation, to tell a memorable data story about why they matter," said McDowell.

McDowell's storytelling research has involved training collaborations with advancement staff both at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Illinois system; storytelling consulting work for multiple nonprofits, including the 50th anniversary of the statewide Prairie Rivers Network that protects Illinois water; and storytelling lectures for the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI). McDowell researches and publishes in the areas of storytelling at work, social justice storytelling, and what library storytelling can teach the information sciences about data storytelling. She holds both an MS and PhD in library and information science from Illinois.