Lineup announced for Auburn University’s Critical Conversations Speaker Series

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Auburn University’s Critical Conversation Speaker Series is returning this fall with two events that will address issues of inclusion and diversity and civil discourse in higher education.

Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at New York University’s Stern School of Business, and Frank Bruni, an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, are the featured speakers for the fall semester.

“Jonathan Haidt and Frank Bruni are thought leaders who will inspire our campus community to engage in meaningful dialogue about “top of mind” issues facing campuses across the country,” said Taffye Benson Clayton, associate provost and vice president for Inclusion and Diversity. “The continuation of the Critical Conversations Speaker Series explores how our shared values of free speech and civil discourse are being critically discussed and thoughtfully applied at Auburn University.”

Haidt will speak on “The Societal Impact of Political Polarization on College Campuses” Oct. 4 at 5 p.m. in the Mell Classroom Building @ RBD Library. Haidt’s research examines the intuitive foundations of morality, and how morality varies across cultures—including the cultures of American progressives, conservatives and libertarians.

At NYU-Stern, he is applying his research on moral psychology to business ethics, asking how companies can structure and run themselves in ways that will be resistant to ethical failures. He is also the co-founder of, a collaboration among nearly 2,000 professors who are working to increase viewpoint diversity and freedom of inquiry in universities.

Haidt is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis, and of The New York Times bestseller The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. His third book, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure (co-authored with Greg Lukianoff), was recently published.  Haidt received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992 and taught for 16 years in the department of psychology at the University of Virginia.

Bruni will speak on “Journalism, Social Media and Free Speech on College Campuses” Nov. 28 at 5 p.m. in the Mell Classroom Building @ RBD Library. Bruni has been a columnist for The New York Times since June 2011. In his columns, which appear every Sunday and Wednesday, he reflects on diverse topics including American politics, higher education, gay rights and his own life as a gay man in a close-knit Italian-American family.

He joined the newspaper in 1995 and his writings have ranged broadly across its pages. He has been a White House correspondent, the chief restaurant critic, a staff writer for The Times Magazine and the Rome bureau chief. He is the author of three New York Times best sellers, the most recent of which, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania, was published in March 2015 to widespread acclaim. His previous best sellers were the 2009 memoir Born Round, about the joys and torments of his eating life, and a 2002 chronicle of George W. Bush’s initial presidential campaign, Ambling into History.

More information on the Critical Conversations Speaker Series is available at

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