University of Richmond President Ronald A. Crutcher has invited prominent thought leaders from a variety of backgrounds to the Richmond campus as they dive deep into debated issues surrounding higher education.

Many higher education institutions are critically examining how they educate today’s college students given a loss of public confidence in higher education and accompanying criticism of liberal arts education.

“The Sharp speakers will bring important thought-provoking insights to our community’s discussions about how best to educate our students and prepare them to face complex problems in an increasingly diverse and interconnected world,” said Crutcher. “We believe that through critical discussion, new ideas take root, grow, and evolve.”

The series includes:

  • Sept. 27, “Fostering Viewpoint Diversity in Higher Education”
    Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist, researcher, and author of The Coddling of the American Mind
  • Nov. 1, “The Empathy Gap and the Power of Dialogue”
    Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College, psychologist, race relations expert, and author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?
  • Feb. 12, 2019, “Freedom of Expression on Campuses”
    Robert Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago, mathematician, and author of Essential Results of Functional Analysis
  • March 21, 2019, “Why the Humanities Matter Now, More Than Ever”
    Paula Krebs, executive director of the Modern Language Association and former dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at Bridgewater State University

Jonathan Haidt will discuss how rising political polarization and aversion to conflict are contributing to the reduction of viewpoint diversity on college campuses. Haidt is a social psychologist at the NYU-Stern School of Business. Haidt’s research examines the intuitive foundations of morality and how it varies across cultures and politics. His newest 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, will release in September.

Beverly Daniel Tatum will discuss how the so-called “empathy gap,” a residual effect of persistent segregation by race in the United States, affects cross-cultural relationships on college and university campuses. A nationally recognized authority on race and education and a licensed clinical psychologist, Tatum is president emerita of Spelman College and author of the critically acclaimed book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations about Race

Robert Zimmer will discuss the debate over freedom of expression roiling college campuses nationwide. Zimmer has served as president of the University of Chicago since July 2006. A recent piece in The New York Times named him “America’s best university president” for his commitment to academic freedom and critical thinking. Before becoming the university’s president, he served as a faculty member and administrator for more than two decades, specializing in geometry. Zimmer is the author of two mathematics books and more than 80 mathematical research articles.

Paula Krebs will speak about the role of the humanities in a 21st-century liberal arts education and the ongoing evolution of humanities education. Krebs became executive director of the Modern Language Association in August 2017. She administers the programs, governance, and business affairs of the association and is general editor of the association’s publishing and research programs, as well as editor of two association publications. Krebs previously served as the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Bridgewater State University.

All Sharp events are scheduled to take place in the Queally Center, Breed Pavilion, at 7 p.m. Events are free and open to the public but registration is required. For more information or to reserve your seats, visit Richmond.edu/sharp or call 804-289-8980.

Share your own perspective of the speaker’s viewpoints by mentioning @URichmond on Twitter or by using the hashtag #URsharp.

The Richard L. Sharp Viewpoint Speakers Series was established in 2011 in honor of Richard L. Sharp, a nationally recognized entrepreneur, to present competing views on topics crucial to our nation and global society.

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