UK Happenings

Lewis Honors College Speaker Series Welcomes Jonathan Haidt

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 13, 2021) — On Thursday, Nov. 11, the University of Kentucky Lewis Honors College Speaker Series will welcome Jonathan Haidt, author and social psychologist at New York University’s Stern School of Business, for a talk titled “How College Students Can Become Stronger, Smarter, and Happier Despite the Efforts of Well-Intentioned Adults Who Make Them Weaker.”

The event will be presented via Zoom webinar at 6:30 p.m. Registration is required. The event is open to the entire UK campus community.  

The purpose of the Lewis Honors College Speaker Series is to better prepare the Lewis Honors College students for the challenges and opportunities of life by covering topics including self-awareness, personal values, character development, leadership, critical thinking, decision-making, financial literacy, career planning, success and happiness; and to educate the Lewis Honors College students regarding the American values of individual liberty, free enterprise, personal responsibility, faith, family, patriotism, intellectual diversity, community engagement and civic responsibility.

Haidt received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992, and taught for 16 years in the psychology department at the University of Virginia, before assuming his current role at NYU’s Stern School of Business as the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership.

Haidt’s research examines the intuitive foundations of morality, and how morality varies across cultures — including the cultures of progressive, conservatives and libertarians. His goal is to help people understand each other, live and work near each other and even learn from each other despite their moral differences. Haidt has co-founded a variety of organizations and collaborations that apply moral and social psychology toward that end, including and

Haidt is the author of "The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom," and of The New York Times bestsellers "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion" and "The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure" (co-authored with Greg Lukianoff). He has written more than 100 academic articles. In 2019 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was chosen by Prospect magazine as one of the world's "Top 50 Thinkers." He has given four TED talks.

Haidt’s lecture with the Lewis Honors College will focus on many of the concepts he shares in his book, “The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure.” This book discusses changes in college culture and the effects on mental health. Subjects like microaggressions, identity politics, call-out culture and intersectionality are all topics of discussion. In addition, the authors discuss what they call “safetyism,” which they define as a culture or belief system in which safety has become a sacred value, which means that people become unwilling to make trade-offs demanded by other practical and moral concerns. The book also explores changes in childhood, including the rise of "fearful parenting," the decline of unsupervised play and the effects of social media.

Haidt hopes that his lecture will provide some explanation to the changes he has witnessed in Generation Z, but he also encourages students to share their thoughts, ideas and questions. 

"Something has happened to Gen Z — it has much higher rates of depression, anxiety and self-harm than any previous generation, including the millennials, who are just a bit older, “ Haidt said. “I'm going to present my story about what I think has happened, involving the interaction of overprotective institutions and exploitative technologies, and then I look forward to hearing from students at Kentucky about where they think I've gotten something wrong or left something out. I want us all to come out of the session with more nuanced thinking."

For more information on the event and, visit

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $501 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.