"To be a hero, you have to learn to be a deviant, because you're always going against the conformity of the group. Heroes are ordinary people whose social actions are extraordinary. Who act."
- Phil Zimbardo
On September 19 and 20, the cross-disciplinary Hero Round Table conference will convene in Flint, Michigan, to look at heroism in today's world. "Talks and discussions will come from experts in the worlds of psychology, education, philosophy, sports, storytelling (books, movies, TV, games, etc.), the news media, and more."
The Hero Round Table project provides an opportunity for those interested in heroism around the world to gather together for networking, planning future collaborations, and hearing from the world's leading experts on the subject," A slate of experts will include social psychologist Philip Zimbardo, educational psychologist Michele Borba, Auschwitz survivor Edith Eger, Pentagon whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, and many other fascinating speakers.
Phil Zimbardo, made famous long ago by his Stanford prison simulation experiment, has become one of the world's most famous psychologists, the host of the Discovering Psychology educational series, and an expert witness called upon to testify on the power of situations to bring out unexpected evil in people, as in the Abu Ghraib torture trials. After decades of disussing how wrong things went in the prison simulation, he has turned his attention to investigating the sources of people's heroism. He asks, "What pushes some people to become perpetrators of evil, while others act heroically on behalf of those in need?" In his quest to understand heroism, Dr. Zimbardo has founded the Heroic Imagination Project, a research-based nonprofit organization out to provide "knowledge, tools, strategies, and exerises to individuals and groups to help them to overcome the social and psychological forces which can keep them from taking effective action at crucial moments in their lives."
In addition to the scheduled speakers, the conference will feature hour-long breakout sessions and academic posters, both empirical and non-empirical in nature, on topics such as altruism, the bystander effect, personality, and prosocial behavior. Drs. Phil Zimbardo, Scott Allison, Ari Kohen, and Zeno Franco will judge the posters to select one "Best Poster" for a cash prize.