UCLA takes on hate

AcademicCivic EngagementGlobal Outreach

Last September, the UCLA Initiative to Study Hate launched what seemed to be a Sisyphean mission: to understand and tackle the phenomenon of hate. As the initiative marks its first anniversary, its researchers continue to seek out new pathways of understanding of hate, which has been such a prominent catalyst in recent convulsions of violence around the world.

“Hate is as vexing as it is pervasive,” said David Myers, the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Professor of Jewish History and director of the initiative. “But in just one year, we have gained important new insights into how it functions and how we might better address it.”

Teams have already shared findings to help understand the ways hate shows up in the brain’s neural pathways, the pervasiveness of youth’s experiences of hate on social media and the unexpected environments in which hate presents itself in daily life.

The results also continue to push the initial gambit of the initiative: to demonstrate that breaking through disciplinary boundaries to create a learning community — dedicated to addressing one of society’s most complex and ubiquitous problems — is not only necessary but achievable.

“We can see from both history and the current moment that it is incredibly destructive to let hatred and alienation metastasize,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, reflecting on the ongoing importance of the initiative. “Educational institutions like ours must take seriously their urgent responsibility to understand how we can dismantle the machinery of group hate and blunt its damage. Bringing our best thinking to our hardest problems is central to UCLA’s mission.”

Read more on UCLA Newsroom here.