Can Jonathan Haidt Calm the Culture Wars?

Evan R. Goldstein in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Photo_82439_cover_320x426On a February morning in Washington, a hotel ballroom is packed with people eager to hear Jonathan Haidt explain what’s wrong with higher education. His talk is part of the International Students for Liberty Conference, which has attracted 1,700 attendees, mostly young libertarians, to a weekend of sessions with titles like "Stereotyped 101," "Advancing Liberty Around the World," and "Beer Is Freedom." Before he’s introduced, Haidt, a social psychologist at New York University’s Stern School of Business, stands at the front of the room, tall and thin, dressed in a dark suit and white shirt. As people gather around, a brown-haired woman in a gray skirt chats him up before rushing off. "Oh, my God," she says to a friend, "I just shook Jonathan Haidt’s hand!"

Haidt’s renown is driven by bold declarations like those in a 2015 cover story in The Atlantic titled "The Coddling of the American Mind." Written with Greg Lukianoff, president and chief executive of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the article took the rise of microaggressions, trigger warnings, and safe spaces as evidence that colleges are nurturing a hypersensitive mind-set among students that "will damage their careers and friendships, along with their mental health." The article, which has been viewed by nearly six million people, catapulted Haidt, already a prominent scholar and best-selling author, into a new role: gadfly of the campus culture wars.

More here.

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