SST/ HR  346   


Stuart Levine

M . . . .

3:00 pm -6:00 pm

Arendt Center


Cross-listed:  Human Rights  It has now been more than fifty years since the original work of Stanley Milgram at Yale University demonstrated the remarkable and widely unpredicted finding that large numbers of individuals in multiple samples of American men and women studied were willing to "punish" another person when ordered to do so by an experimenter; this in the context of a psychology experiment on learning and memory.  The prominence of the initial work and the continued salience of such study, including the pronounced ethical considerations and the necessary generalizability to societal and historical contexts cannot be over-stated.   As recently as five years ago a replication of the original study with only slight modifications was published (J. Burger, January 2009) and more recent studies reveals that “obedience” is very much prevalent in our society and in many others as well.  Also the ethical debate and ecological validity controversy have not lessened. But aside from the volume of investigations the current domain of the "Milgram study” is especially worthy of continuing interest; this because of historical events in the intervening years since1960.  The seminar will convey that the continuing study of obedience phenomena is vital for the betterment of institutions - even in a democratic society - and that social scientists must find a way to safely and ethically investigate the conditions that promote destructive obedience and learn the rudiments of how it can be minimized. This is an upper college seminar.  It is designed for moderated social studies majors and even those from other divisions of the college, who will require permission of the instructor to enroll. Criteria for membership are a willingness to read with care and then with conviction share the results of such reading and study.  (The title for this seminar is taken from the biography of Stanley Milgram authored by Thomas Blass, a professor of social psychology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County campus. Class size: 15