UNE Center for Global Humanities presents “The Psychology of Courage and Inaction”

We are bombarded daily by news reports of the bad behavior of others, from sexual harassment in the workplace to racist attacks in public places to bullying in schools. Although it may be easy to blame these acts on evil people, it’s far more complicated to understand why so many of us fail to speak up and intervene in the presence of such socially harmful behavior.

An online lecture presented by the University of New England Center for Global Humanities will investigate why more of us don’t step up to defend others in these moments of interpersonal crisis when Catherine A. Sanderson presents “The Psychology of Courage and Inaction” on Monday, November 16 at 6 p.m. The lecture will be streamed live to the Center’s Maine, national, and global communities.

Using empirical research from psychology, biology, neuroscience, and economics, Sanderson will examine the factors that lead most of us to stay silent, and how this tendency actually perpetuates the bad behaviors of others. Ultimately, the lecture will seek to help audience members overcome the very natural human tendency to remain bystanders by conveying practical strategies we can use to defuse situations in which others are being abused, bullied, and otherwise harmed before our eyes.

Sanderson is the Manwell Family Professor of Life Sciences in Psychology at Amherst College. Her research has received grant funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. She has published over 25 journal articles and book chapters in addition to four college textbooks, middle school and high school health textbooks, and popular books on parenting and how mindset influences happiness. In 2012, she was named one of the country’s top 300 professors by The Princeton Review. In addition, Sanderson lectures widely – including two previous trips to UNE to share her knowledge — and has been featured by The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, CNN, and CBS Sunday Morning with Jane Pauley. Her latest book, and the basis for this lecture, is Why We Act: Turning Bystanders into Moral Rebels.

This will be the fifth online lecture of the academic year at the Center for Global Humanities. For more information and to watch the event, please visit:


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