Preventing Columbine: Psychologist Elliot Aronson delivers UCSC Faculty Emeritus Lecture February 11

Award-winning social psychologist Elliot Aronson will deliver a free public lecture entitled "The Elephant in the Parlor: How the Columbine High School Massacre Could Have Been Prevented," on Wednesday, February 11, at 8:15 p.m. in the Media Theater at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Aronson, a professor emeritus of psychology at UCSC, is author of the book Nobody Left to Hate: Teaching Compassion After Columbine (New York: Worth/Freeman, 2000), in which he suggests that the best way to reduce school violence is to foster greater interdependence among students in classrooms.

"Socially, there's an atmosphere of exclusion in many schools that students find unpleasant and even humiliating," said Aronson. "If we can create a learning environment in classrooms that requires students to cooperate and share their knowledge with one another, we help them break down prejudices and build a stronger sense of community and support."

Aronson, a popular teacher, was the first recipient of the UCSC Alumni Association's Distinguished Teaching Award. He will discuss ways to foster cooperative learning at both the elementary and high school levels, and he will share research that shows the benefits of reducing competition in the classroom.

"By working closely with one another in a cooperative way, students begin to see positive qualities in their classmates that they hadn't seen before," said Aronson.

Ranked among the top 100 psychologists of the 20th century, Aronson is known for his work on real-world problems and for his commitment to making his research findings accessible to the public. He has made major contributions to the theory of cognitive dissonance as well as to the understanding of interpersonal attraction, prejudice, energy conservation, and AIDS prevention. His book The Social Animal remains among the most popular texts in social psychology.

Aronson, who retired from UCSC in 1994, teaches social psychology at Stanford. The UCSC Emeritus Faculty Lecture is being presented with support from the office of Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood as part of UCSC's 2004 "Thinking at the Edge" Distinguished Lecture Series, which highlights talks of great interest to the general public.