The Akron Story Circle Project


Rethinking Race in Classroom and Community

Carolyn Behrman, Bill Lyons, Patricia Hill, James Slowiak, Donna Webb, Amy Shriver Dreussi

Pages: 255; Size: 6 x 9

SKU: 978-1-629220-52-9 Category: Tags: ,


The Akron Story Circle Project documents an eight-year interdisciplinary effort to use story circles, developed by John O’Neal, as a pedagogical tool to engage faculty, students, and community members in thoughtful and serious conversations about race and racial conflict. In the process the authors learned about the incredible transformative power of storytelling in the classroom, on the stage, to spark artwork, and to deepen their understanding of the world we live in.

In addition to being a unique collaboration among professors in art, anthropology, theater, communication, and political science, the book itself—with extensive author comments in each chapter—is organized as an ongoing conversation that models curiosity and open-mindedness, rigorous analysis and the transformative value of our stories and of listening to others.

About the authors

Patricia Hill

Patricia Hill earned her PhD from Bowling Green State University with an emphasis in interpersonal and intercultural communication. She was an associate professor in the School of Communication at the University of Akron from 1999 until her retirement in 2014. During her tenure, her research interests included gender, race, and critical pedagogy. Her research was published in Women and LanguageThe GerontologistJournalism History, and The Electronic Journal of Communication and she has presented her work in numerous local, national, and international settings. Currently she contributes to the community as a communication consultant and guest lecturer.

Bill Lyons

Bill Lyons is a professor of political science who has directed the Center for Conflict Management at the University of Akron for the past fifteen years. His major publications include The Politics of Community Policing: Rearranging the Power to Punish (1999) and Punishing Schools: Fear and Citizenship in American Public Education (with Julie Drew, 2006). Bill is a life-long Red Sox fan, who loves to hike and body surf, play basketball, ping-pong, volleyball, ultimate and more. He owns a round house on the RI shore with his partner Julie Drew.

Donna Webb

Donna Webb, professor emeritus of the Myers School of Art at the University of Akron, received her MFA from the University of Michigan. She creates large-scale mosaic tile installations that enhance community stories. In addition to her involvement in the Akron Story Circle Project, Webb is a founding member of Synapse, which promotes collaboration between artists and scientists. Her work with various collaborators investigates the ideas of water and storytelling. Recent works, Spill and Cloud, as well as her tile installation at Angel Falls Coffee Co., are continuations of these investigations.

Amy Shriver Dreussi

Amy Shriver Dreussi is an associate professor of social sciences in the College of Applied Technical Studies at the University of Akron. Dr. Dreussi, who left a career in journalism to become an academic, is cochair of the University of Akron’s Rethinking Race: Black, White, and Beyond, an annual series of events about race. She was the recipient of the university’s Diversity Service Award in 2015 in recognition of “contributions to diversity and inclusion through exemplary leadership.” She has presented at thirty local, state, regional, national, and international conferences, primarily on diversity and civic engagement. Off campus, she is the president of the Canton Area League of Women Voters and an avid traveler.

Carolyn Behrman

Carolyn Behrman is associate professor of anthropology and codirector of the Active Research Methods Lab at the University of Akron. A methods junkie who believes “data are everywhere,” Dr. Behrman works with her undergraduate students in a variety of community-based research and service-learning contexts. Her broad research interests are power and poverty in urban communities. Current research foci include a study of gender and family health in neighborhood with decaying infrastructure and a study of diet, health, and culture change among South Asian refugees.

James Slowiak

James Slowiak is a professor of theatre at the University of Akron and coartistic director of the internationally acclaimed New World Performance Laboratory (NWPL). Slowiak received his MFA in directing from the University of California-Irvine and a BA in Anthropology, French, and Dramatic Arts from Macalester College. He has directed more than seventy theatre events and conducted workshops in performance ecology in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. He is coauthor (with Jairo Cuesta) of Jerzy Grotowski(Routledge, 2007).

Additional information


Amy Shriver Dreussi, Bill Lyons, Carolyn Behrman, Donna Webb, James Slowiak, Patricia Hill


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conversations about race; racial conflict; sociology; oral history methods