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Happiness topic of Linfield’s opening convocation

Jonathan HaidtJonathan Haidt, author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, will present the keynote address at the Linfield College opening convocation Friday, Aug. 26, at 11 a.m. in the Ted Wilson Gymnasium at Linfield.

Convocation is the traditional ceremony that celebrates the beginning of the new academic year. Faculty dress in academic regalia and new faculty members are introduced to the Linfield community. Classes at Linfield will begin Monday, Aug. 29.

Haidt’s presentation will reflect themes related to the summer common read, “Hector and the Search for Happiness” by Francois Lelord. The novel, a whimsical quest to understand what makes people happy, is narrated by Hector, a young psychiatrist whose patients, although often well off, are not satisfied with life. Determined to discover a deeper understanding of what people need or want, Hector sets out on globe-trotting journey in search of the secret to happiness. The book was the summer common reading project for all incoming students and will serve as a centerpiece for discussions and special programs throughout fall semester for Freshman Colloquium and other classes.

Haidt is a social psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. His research examines the emotional basis of morality and the ways that morality varies across cultures, including the cultures of liberals and conservatives. Haidt is also an expert on positive psychology (the scientific study of human flourishing) and studies positive emotions such as moral elevation, admiration and awe. He has been active in the positive psychology movement since 1999, and in 2001 he was awarded the Templeton Prize in Positive Psychology. He has received four awards for his teaching, including the 2004 Outstanding Faculty Award conferred by the Governor of the State of Virginia, Mark Warner. Haidt is also the author of “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion” and “Flourishing.”

Haidt has appeared on The Today Show, participated in a panel discussion with the Dalai Lama and has lectured at the TED conference. The Times of London review of “The Happiness Hypothesis” found it “riveting . . . most humane, witty and comforting . . . brilliantly synthesizing ancient cultural insights with modern psychology.” Haidt received a B.A. from Yale University, and a M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 503-883-2202.