Speakers for 2020 'Expanding Empathy' lecture series announced

After an engaging and successful inaugural run last academic year, the Rock Ethics Institute’s (REI) “Expanding Empathy” lecture series schedule has been set for spring 2020, with the first lecture to be presented March 5.

The lectures are hosted through the REI’s Moral Agency and Moral Development Initiative, which is convened by C. Daryl Cameron, assistant professor of psychology in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts and research associate in the Rock Ethics Institute.

“The objective of the 'Expanding Empathy' lecture series is to provide a window into understanding when, why and how people decide to have empathy and concern and to help other people,” Cameron says.

An accessible series of talks, the lectures are meant for a broad, interdisciplinary audience. Admission is free, and they are open to the entire campus community and the general public.

“We bring in researchers from around the world who do work on empathy and moral decision-making from a variety of perspectives,” Cameron explains, “and not just abstract, philosophical discussions — which are quite nice — but some of the topics we’ve studied have direct, practical relevance to things like inter-group conflict and changes in empathy over time and across generations.”

The lectures scheduled for this year will further increase understanding of the psychological underpinnings of empathy and moral decision-making.

The first three lectures in the “Expanding Empathy” series will be held in Foster Auditorium in Paterno Library beginning at 3:30 p.m.

The final lecture in the 2020 series will be held in Freeman Auditorium in the HUB-Robeson Center, also beginning at 3:30 p.m.

All of the lectures will be digitally archived and available online after the presentations.

The series is supported by Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts and College of Health and Human Development, as well as the Department of Psychology, the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, and the Penn State University Libraries.

As part of his broader research and outreach on empathy and generosity, series organizer Daryl Cameron is supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Established in 2001 through the support of Doug and Julie Rock, the Rock Ethics Institute promotes engaged ethics research and ethical leadership from its home in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts.