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We are experiencing a crisis of connection, says Niobe Way, a psychology professor at New York University. She has been researching friendships for more than 30 years, especially among teenagers. In her presentation she talks about the reasons why people find it difficult to build and maintain relationships – among other things a “boy” culture that is out of sync with our human nature. In a Public Interview subsequent to her talk, she discusses what this has to do with the workplace and shares insights on what we can do about it.

About the Speaker

Dr. Niobe Way is Professor of Developmental Psychology at New York University and the founder of the Project for the Advancement of Our Common Humanity (PACH). She received her B.A. from U.C. Berkeley, her doctorate from Harvard, and was an NIMH postdoctoral Fellow at Yale. She is also past President of the Society for Research on Adolescence (SRA) and co-director of the Center for Research on Culture, Development, and Education at NYU.

Her work focuses on social and emotional development, how ideologies shape families and child development in American and Chinese contexts, and on how to build a more just, humane, and connected world within and across communities. The Listening Project, her current project with Joseph Nelson, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, David Kirkland, and Alisha Ali, was created to address the global crisis of connection (i.e., loneliness, depression, suicide, racism, sexism) by fostering listening with curiosity in schools, universities, and workplaces. She leads LP workshops, teaches courses at NYU including “The Science of Human Connection, “Transformative Interviewing,” and “Culture, Context, and Psychology.” Her work integrates her theoretical, empirical, and applied work developed over three decades on the intersection of culture, context, and human development and wellbeing.

She’s currently working on building Agapi, an AI driven app that uses her method of listening to help build meaningful human connections and disrupt stereotyping. Dr. Way has also authored nearly a hundred journal articles and books, including Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection (Harvard University Press) and Everyday Courage: The Lives and Stories of Urban Teenagers (NYU Press). Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and numerous foundations including The National Science Foundation, The William T. Grant Foundation, The Einhorn Family Charitable Trust Foundation, and The Spencer Foundation. She is a contributor to Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and her research is regularly featured in mainstream media outlets (e.g., New York Times, NPR, Today Show, NBC). She’s also a Principal Investigator of a 17-year longitudinal research study of Chinese families, and The Human Connection Lab at NYU and recently finished participating in a year-long Aspen Digital working group focusing on humanizing AI