Ervin Staub, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), recently released a book on the roots of evil called Overcoming Evil published by Oxford University Press.
The book describes the origins or influences that lead to genocide, violent conflict and terrorism and identifies principles and practices of prevention and of reconciliation between groups after violence. Staub draws on his past work on these issues, as well as on research in genocide studies, study of conflict and psychological research on group relations. His work considers the role of difficult social or life conditions, repression, culture, the institutions or structure of society, the psychology of individuals and groups and the behavior of witnesses or bystanders within and outside societies. It looks at the psychological processes such as the devaluation of the “other”, the power of ideas and people’s commitment to destructive ideologies.
Staub will be a plenary speaker at the 2011 Institute on Religion in an Age of Science Conference on “Doing Good, Doing Bad, Doing Nothing: Scientific and Religious Perspectives on Human Behavior” in Chautauqua, New York. The annual summer conference will also feature talks from science and religion scholars, such as keynote speaker Mel Konner, who is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the program in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology at Emory University. Konner has spent two years among the Kung San (Bushmen) and has taught at Harvard and then Emory for over 30 years. More information will be available at www.iras.org as the program comes together.
Staub will be giving two presentations. One will be on the roots of genocide, violent conflict and terrorism and a second session is on creating goodness, moral courage, altruism born of suffering and constructive ideologies and active bystandership.