Professor and Author Jonathan Haidt to Discuss Free Speech and the Academy at President’s Speaker Series

President's Speaker Series - Jonathan Haidt

Jonathan Haidt, professor of ethical leadership at the New York University Stern School of Business and author of New York Times best-seller The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, will lead the next installment of the President’s Speaker Series on Wednesday, September 21, at 5:30 PM in Smothers Theatre. One of the world’s leading experts on the psychology of morality, Haidt will explore the topic of free speech and the academy. The event will also be accessible via Livestream for those unable to attend in person.

"At a time when the impact of our words has never been more important, Pepperdine University is pleased to welcome Jonathan Haidt for an important discussion on the topic of free speech and the academy," says president Jim Gash. "I couldn't be more excited to explore this compelling topic with Professor Haidt and to learn from him about the critical need for the exchange of ideas on a college campus."

Haidt is a social psychologist and professor of ethical leadership at the New York University Stern School of Business. His research examines the intuitive foundations of morality and how morality varies across cultures. Haidt’s goal is to help people understand each other, live and work near each other, and even learn from each other despite their moral differences. He 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 New York Times best-sellers 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 (coauthored with Greg Lukianoff). He has also written more than 100 academic articles and has given four TED Talks. In 2019 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and chosen by Prospect magazine as one of the world’s “Top 50 Thinkers.” 

Since 2018 Haidt has been studying the contributions of social media to the decline of teen mental health and the rise of political dysfunction. He is currently writing Life After Babel: Adapting to a World We Can No Longer Share.

The President's Speaker Series, which launched in January 2021, has welcomed distinguished scholars and thought leaders—including the Kinsey family, legal scholar Robert George, esteemed philosophy academic Cornel West, and Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel—representing diverse perspectives to examine issues facing our communities and the world today. Driven by a desire to connect deeply with the Pepperdine community and inspire meaningful dialogue in the pursuit of truth, the series provides opportunities to cultivate an engaged and impassioned collective through civil discourse.

To learn more about the event and to register to attend visit the President’s Speaker Series website.