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Dear White Women

Feb 3, 2021

The United States has been divided, and as shown with the storming of the Capitol Building in early 2021, the threat of violence is real. However, there is also the potential for a lot of good if we lean into our humanity. What do we do to help ourselves and our country?

There was no better person to talk about this issue than Professor Ervin Staub, a professor emeritus of psychology and founding director of the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who survived Nazism as a young child and has dedicated decades of his life to the study of good and evil. 

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What to listen for: 

  • The difference between blind patriotism and constructive patriotism. (Hint: you want to have the latter)
  • The key points in understanding the roots of good vs the roots of evil
  • How America’s trajectory over the last few years has looked a lot like fascism in Europe leading to World War II
  • What can we do on an individual level each day to contribute to the building of community, and what does it take for people to help other people?
  • How should we be raising our children to be helpers and better bystanders?

About Professor Staub: 

Ervin Staub is originally from Hungary, received a Ph.D. at Stanford, taught at Harvard, and is Professor Emeritus and Founding Director of the doctoral program in the Psychology of Peace and Violence at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is past President of the International Society for Political Psychology and of the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict and Violence. His best-known book is The Roots of Evil: The Origins of Genocide and Other Group Violence. His last two books are the award-winning Overcoming Evil: Genocide, Violent Conflict and Terrorism, and The Roots of Goodness and Resistance to Evil: Inclusive Caring, Moral Courage, Altruism Born of Suffering, Active Bystandership and Heroism He engaged with varied “real world” projects, including work with teachers/schools and parents to promote altruism in children, projects in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Congo to promote reconciliation, in Amsterdam to promote positive Dutch-Muslim relations. He created a training for police to develop active bystandership by officers to stop other officers from doing unnecessary harm, which is now expanding around the country, and for students to stop harmful actions by fellow students. He received awards from the International Society for Political Psychology, from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, for lifelong contributions to peace psychology from the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict and Violence, and from other organizations. For awards and downloads of articles, see his detailed biography here.

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