Discussion Reaches Psychology Faculty and Graduate Students

After decades of service to such disciplines as philosophy, political science, history, and economics, IHS this past month ventured into new territory by convening a group of graduate students and faculty in psychology. The August 2020 “Psychology, Individualism, and Human Flourishing” discussion colloquium yielded results that surpassed expectations. Participant feedback evinced a strong desire for future programming geared to psychologists with interest in classical liberal thought. 

IHS’s pivot to online programming in March of 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic opened the door to this first major foray into psychology. In the midst of organization-wide efforts to develop a superior online convening capability, one question that came to mind was whether online programming could enable IHS to reach new audiences. “Psychology, Individualism, and Human Flourishing” provided the hoped-for proof of concept. 

I am delighted that IHS is expanding its portfolio into the discipline of psychology!

-Richard Redding, the Ronald D. Rotunda Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence at Chapman University, and a program participant

Participants explored such themes as liberalism and individualism, individual and environment, and existential psychology and human flourishing by discussing some of the field’s founding texts as well as the scholarship of a more recent vintage. Selections from the discipline’s founders included the work of William James, Sartre, Camus, and Fromm

“It’s lovely”, said Kurt Gray, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, “to take a step back and (re)learn the classics.” 

This program took place online via a video conferencing platform to enable participants to gather safely. While this format is not without its challenges, IHS is working to ensure that participants can still have a venue for vigorous debate and vibrant interactions. Glenn Geher, Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York at New Paltz, remarked that the online colloquium “honestly felt just as good as in person would have been.” 

One of the hallmarks of a successful discussion colloquium is that participants come away eager to apply the readings, discussions, and connections from the program to their work. So eager were this colloquium’s participants for those next steps, that they mapped out some of them before the colloquium ended.

Several specific ideas for follow-up projects, all designed to help us advance our broader understanding of individualism in the modern world, are now in the development stage. The IHS staff are to be commended for putting together a top-flight intellectual experience.”

-Professor Geher, State University of New York at New Paltz

For more information on IHS Reading Groups and Discussion Colloquia, or additional faculty and graduate programs, visit TheIHS.org.

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