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Farwell Distinguished Lecture: Jonathan Haidt, "The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure"

  • Date: Tuesday, October 23, 2018
  • Time: 7:00 pm
  • Location: Center for Faith and Life, Main Hall

Haidt, a social psychologist, is co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, which will be published on September 4. In it, he and co-author Greg Lukianoff explore how the cultural climate of "safetyism" on college campuses across the U.S. interferes with the healthy development of students.

New York Times best-selling author and Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business, Haidt has been named a top global thinker by Foreign Policy magazine and a top world thinker by Prospect magazine. He is a co-developer of Moral Foundations theory and co-founder of HeterodoxAcademy.org, which advocates for viewpoint diversity in higher education. His previous books include The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion and The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

As the publisher of his latest book describes..."Something is going wrong on many college campuses in the last few years. Rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide are rising. Speakers are shouted down. Students and professors say they are walking on eggshells and afraid to speak honestly. How did this happen?"

First Amendment expert Greg Lukianoff and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt show how the new problems on campus have their origins in three terrible ideas that have become increasingly woven into American childhood and education: what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker; always trust your feelings; and life is a battle between good people and evil people. These three Great Untruths are incompatible with basic psychological principles, as well as ancient wisdom from many cultures. They interfere with healthy development. Anyone who embraces these untruths—and the resulting culture of safetyism—is less likely to become an autonomous adult able to navigate the bumpy road of life.

Lukianoff and Haidt investigate the many social trends that have intersected to produce these untruths. They situate the conflicts on campus in the context of America’s rapidly rising political polarization, including a rise in hate crimes and off-campus provocation. They explore changes in childhood including the rise of fearful parenting, the decline of unsupervised play, and the new world of social media that has engulfed teenagers in the last decade. This is a book for anyone who is confused by what is happening on college campuses today, or has children, or is concerned about the growing inability of Americans to live, work, and cooperate across party lines."

Made possible by the generous support of the Farwell Endownment and co-sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Public Engagement and Campus Programming.

Questions? Contact Paul Atkins, 563-387-1536