New program promotes collaboration between scientists and humanists

A new program dedicated to promoting cross-disciplinary dialogue and collaboration — the Franke Program in Science and the Humanities — will launch in November with a lecture and panel discussion on the topic of violence, a central issue for both fields. The inaugural events, which are free and open to the public, are sponsored by the Whitney Humanities Center (WHC).

The lecture, titled “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined,” will be delivered by renowned experimental psychologist Steven Pinker on Thursday, Nov. 1, at 5 p.m. in the WHC auditorium, 53 Wall St. This event will be followed by a reception.

On Friday, Nov. 2, at 2 p.m., a panel discussion will examine the question “How Should We Think About Violence?” This discussion, which will take place in the WHC auditorium, will feature Pinker and Yale faculty members Stephen Darwall (philosophy), Inderpal Grewal (women’s, gender, and sexuality studies), Stathis Kalyvas (political science), and Laurie Santos (psychology). It will be moderated by Richard O. Prum, the William Robertson Coe Professor of Ornithology and director of the Franke Program.

Pinker, Harvard College Professor and the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, is an experimental psychologist and one of the world’s foremost writers on language, mind, and human nature. His research on visual cognition and the psychology of language has garnered prizes from the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and the American Psychological Association. He has also received seven honorary doctorates, several teaching awards at MIT and Harvard, and numerous prizes for his books “The Language Instinct,” “How the Mind Works,” and “The Blank Slate.”

Darwall, the Andrew Downey Orrick Professor of Philosophy, studies the foundations of ethics, moral psychology, moral theory, and the history of these subjects. Grewal is a specialist in human rights; theories of civil society; law and subjectivity; and transnational feminism, a field she was instrumental in founding. Kalyvas, the Arnold Wolfers Professor of Political Science and director of the Program on Order, Conflict, and Violence, is the author of “The Logic of Violence in Civil War” and “The Rise of Christian Democracy in Europe,” as well as the co-editor of “Order, Conflict, and Violence.” Santos investigates the evolutionary origins of the human mind, exploring domains and expressions of knowledge through her research.

The Franke Program in Science and the Humanities is founded on the twin belief that the fundamental questions that engage humanists must be informed by basic insights of science and that meaningful scientific inquiry depends on humanistic knowledge. The program aims to foster cross-disciplinary dialogue, creative collaboration, and research among scientists and humanists and thereby promote innovative thinking at the juncture of two interdependent systems of thought. The Franke Program in Science and the Humanities is made possible by the generosity of Richard and Barbara Franke.

For more information, visit the program’s website or contact Virginia Jewiss at

Share this with Facebook Share this with X Share this with LinkedIn Share this with Email Print this