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Pamela B. Paresky Ph.D.


Pamela Paresky, Ph.D., is Visiting Senior Research Associate at the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge (SIFK) at the University of Chicago, Senior Scholar at the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), and Director of the Aspen Center for Human Development (ACHD), where a faculty of fellows from diverse fields can collaborate on issues of leadership, happiness, the good life, and other topics in human development.

Before joining the NCRI, Pamela served as Senior Scholar in Psychology and Human Development at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) where she worked with its President and CEO, Greg Lukianoff, and his co-author, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, on their book, The Coddling of the American Mind for which she was their primary researcher and in-house editor. In addition to her frequent contributions to Psychology Today, her work has been published in outlets as different in perspective as The Guardian, Quillette, Brookings, The American Mind, and The New York Times (among others). And she is the creator of A Year of Kindness, a research-based guided journal that encourages people to record daily acts of kindness and thoughts of gratitude.

Her current project, Habits of a Free Mind™, is a toolkit for engaging across lines of difference without feeling traumatized and without dehumanizing others. Habits of a Free Mind: Psychology for Democracy, was a course offered at the University of Chicago in 2020 and will eventually become a book.

Before teaching at the University of Chicago, Dr. Paresky was a featured speaker at the National Character and Leadership Symposium at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), where she co-taught a leadership course and consulted for the Colonel who directed the USAFA Center for Character and Leadership Development.

Dr. Paresky has provided consulting in areas as diverse as marketing, technical advising for television, curriculum assessment, and leadership development. Through her consulting practice, MultiGenerational Consulting Services, LLC, she has worked with individuals, companies, families, and nonprofits. She works both one-on-one and with groups, offering customized programs that provided the opportunity to transform one’s thinking about leadership and life, roles and relationships, work and philanthropy, and about fundamental questions of personal meaning and happiness. (She is not accepting new clients at this time.)

Dr. Paresky has also participated in working groups for Service Year Alliance (formerly The Franklin Project) and The Red Cross, and served on the Advisory Panel of the Ethics and Professional Policy Committee of the American College of Medical Quality. She is currently a member of Heterodox Academy and serves on the National Advisory Board of the Miami-based United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education as well as the Advisory Board of the Free Speech Union.

Dr. Paresky received a PhD in Human Development and Psychology from the University of Chicago, where her work at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) focused on happiness, relationships, and “Flow,” a construct developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who discovered that the best moments in life often occur when people stretch themselves while working toward something worthwhile.

The focus and goal of Dr. Paresky's research and work is to find ways for each of us to lead a meaningful and fulfilling life, and to develop the practices and mental habits necessary to engage in constructive dialogue and disagreement, embrace our common humanity, and contribute to and thrive in a pluralist, liberal democracy. She has received support for her research and curriculum development from the Institute for Humane Studies.

In addition to her interdisciplinary PhD, Dr. Paresky holds a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology and a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology.

Books by Pamela B. Paresky Ph.D.

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