St. Paul's School to Host Symposium

“Empathy, Intimacy, and Technology in a Boarding School Environment”
June 15-17, 2016
CONCORD, N.H. – With recent research indicating that 92 percent of teens go online daily, and 24 percent are online “almost constantly,[i]” it is now indisputable that technology and the lives of adolescents are intertwined. Navigating this new terrain, particularly among boarding school students who live away from home, is a challenge for school educators and administrators.

This spring, St. Paul’s School will convene pre-eminent American scholars and independent school leaders in Concord, N.H., for a three-day symposium titled “Empathy, Intimacy, and Technology in a Boarding School Environment” to explore the intersection of technological, emotional, psychological, and spiritual development in adolescent children.

“We are pleased to bring together these experts and administrators to examine how we educate young people within this new paradigm,” says St. Paul’s School Rector Michael G. Hirschfeld ’85. “We plan to approach today’s technology conundrum from a variety of perspectives and develop a guide for fellow educators in all school settings so that we can harness the vast potential of today’s hi-tech landscape without jeopardizing what makes us fully human. By doing so, we will fulfill our mandate to educate responsible, healthy students and future world citizens. I believe the findings from this inquiry will also benefit parents as they support and teach their children within this dynamic environment.”

Symposium speakers include:
danah boyd, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research and an academic scholar whose work examines the intersection between technology and society, and how young people use social media as part of their everyday practices. Boyd is the author of It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (Penguin, 2014). Her current focus is on the social and cultural dimensions of the “big data” phenomenon and its relationship with privacy, and the civil rights implications of data analytics.

Donna Freitas, a professor and scholar who lectures at universities across the United States on her work about college students. Over the years, she has written for national newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post. She is the author of Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America’s College Campuses (Oxford, 2008), based on her national study about how sex and faith coincide (and collide) on campus. Her most recent study centers around how social media is affecting the ways young adults construct identity and navigate relationships, and is the subject of her forthcoming book, The Happiness Effect (Oxford, Sept. 2016). Freitas is currently a non-resident research associate at the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame.

Shamus Khan, author of Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School (Princeton, 2011), and associate professor of sociology at Columbia University. Khan writes about cultural sociology and stratification, with a strong focus on elites. Khan also writes in the areas of gender theory, deliberative politics, and research methodology. He recently served as an opinion columnist for Time Magazine and continues to write about sociology in the popular press.

Catherine Steiner-Adair, a clinical psychologist, school consultant, speaker, and author of the award-winning The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age (Harper Collins, 2013). Dr. Steiner-Adair speaks and consults on a wide range of topics, including social and emotional literacy, nourishing healthy relationships in the digital age, and developing a thoughtful approach to technology in school and life. She is a research associate in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an associate psychologist at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass.

Sherry Turkle has spent the last 30 years researching the psychology of people’s relationships with technology, from the early days of personal computers to our current world of robotics, artificial intelligence, social networking, and mobile connectivity. She is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, as well as the founder and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Her best-selling book, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in the Digital Age (Penguin, 2015), focuses on the importance of conversation in digital cultures.

The cost of attendance and meals is $250 per person. The program includes expert panel presentations and discussions, plenary, and working sessions. Additional information about the speakers, program agenda, registration details, area lodging, is available on the School’s symposium website.

[i]Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015, Pew Research Center, Amanda Lenhart (http://www.pewresearchorg/staff/amanad-lenhart/)