Community Speaker Series to Honor the 50th Anniversary of May 4

Can Science Help to Heal Our Divided Nation?

Hosted by: KSU Brain Health Research Institute & Department of Psychological Sciences

On May 4, 1970, four students were shot and killed by National Guard troops on the campus of Kent State University. This event served a pivotal role during a tumultuous time for our country and has continued to have a lasting impact throughout the community. As the 50th anniversary approaches, Kent State University’s Brain Health Research Institute & Department of Psychological Sciences are commemorating the tragedy and continuing the university-wide mission to prevent violence and promote democratic values established in its aftermath through a special interactive speaker series. We are partnering with the local radio station, WKSU, to host two events for KSU students and the surrounding community that will help to facilitate a better understanding of issues relating to living in a polarized world and promoting tolerance and understanding through the lens that psychological science is uniquely positioned to provide. We will host events exploring why political polarization has become the norm, how people can foster empathy and resilience, and why emotions cloud our judgment. Speakers will deliver TED-style talks and then participate in a moderated discussion that allows for audience participation and open dialogue. WKSU will moderate and broadcast each event and may conduct advance interviews to generate additional content and community engagement.


How Science Can Help: Fostering Connection in a Fractured World

12/5/2019 at 7:00p, KIVA

Social media and the 24-hour news cycle have contributed to a national climate that is more polarized than ever. People report being more isolated than at any time in history, and the rates of depression and anxiety have skyrocketed as a consequence. Is this the new normal? Cutting-edge research shows that empathy and social connection is still possible, even after tragedy. Talks will provide concrete suggestions for fostering compassion and empathy for others, even under stressful circumstances and even for those who are quite different from us.

Register for free tickets

Jamil Zaki
Dr. Jamil Zaki is a social neuroscientist at Stanford University and author of the upcoming book The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World. His argument that empathy is a skill that we can all strengthen through effort serves as an “inspiring call to action.”
Mary Dozier
Dr. Mary Dozier is a developmental psychologist at the University of Delaware and creator of a program that boosts resilience and connection in at-risk children. She will discuss techniques for enhancing personal connections that helps families who are facing adversity to thrive.

Blinded by Outrage: When Emotions Hijack Reason

4/2/2020 at 4:00p KSU Ballroom

Is it possible to think clearly about something we feel strongly about? America has become hyperpolarized and any action –big or small, public or private – can be viewed as a declaration of social war. Media and technology bring outrage culture to our fingertips hundreds of times a day. What can be done? New research from leading psychologists shows how strong emotions impact the way we think about complex topics and how we act in our everyday lives.

Dr. Peter Ditto is a social psychologist at UC-Irvine and a leading expert in how our emotions distort reality and bias our judgment toward others. His research on partisan politics explains why compromise is so difficult and offers new insight into ways to get along.

Dr. Jennifer Lerner is a social psychologist at Harvard University and the U.S. Navy’s first Chief Decision Scientist. Her work draws on psychology, economics, and neuroscience to understand how powerful emotions like fear and anger drive our decision making and how understanding these emotions can facilitate better outcomes.