Dr. Paul Slovic of the University of Oregon was our latest University of Oregon speaker to present to a group at the Oregon State Penitentiary. His particular research focus areas--from decision making to risk analysis to challenges of compassion—resonated powerfully with the group gathered on the Activity Floor to hear this scholar share his research.
Our ‘public’ speaking events in the prisons aim to include these locations as part of the UO’s mission to educate all Oregonians, advance intellectual curiosity, and to engage with members of the community. In that light, Dr. Paul Slovic was a phenomenal success. Not only is he a distinguished researcher, (he heads Decision Research and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences) he is also deeply committed to asking some of the most challenging questions we face in society, including why we don’t respond more effectively when mass atrocities occur in our world.
He shared his findings on psychic numbing and a perceived lack of efficacy in many humanitarian situations. He also linked his findings to news events, as he did in a recent article about refugees for Vox magazine.
The audience took notes and had many questions afterward. As with all excellent presentations of this kind, participants left with more questions than they had when they arrived, deepening their interests in these complex ideas.