Autumn 2008: Campaign Emory

Marshall Duke teaching

Photo by Kay Hinton

The Power of Connection

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Growing up in an Italian neighborhood in 1940s New Jersey, Marshall Duke saw the strength of family all around him. He became part of those extended families and discovered they were not just a source of economic support; they became a compass for the rest of one’s life. That experience has shaped his career as a clinical psychologist and researcher as well as his thirty-seven-year love affair with teaching at Emory.

In his clinical practice, Duke helps children and adults who struggle with relationships. As a researcher convinced of the healing power of family, he codirected the Family Narratives Project, a three-year study revealing that children whose families regularly share meals together have higher self-esteem and more resilience in the face of adversity.

As Candler Professor of Psychology, Duke loves teaching at Emory because his courses grow out of his research: Rather than reading textbooks, his students discuss current studies and the latest headlines. And those who want to learn from Duke can accompany him into the lab as well as the classroom; at least a hundred Emory undergraduates work in the psychology department’s thirty-five labs at any given time.

Duke’s goal as a professor is to engage students in critical thinking and his hope is that they will learn to evaluate ideas and make their own contributions to knowledge. “In some ways teaching has changed, and in other ways it hasn’t,” he says. “The basic thing about teaching for me is that it establishes a relationship in which one person is trying to connect with another person or group. And it doesn’t always go in one direction; the teacher learns as well as teaches.”

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Autumn 2008

Of Note