Opening General Session

The Science of Violent Behavior

Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, Noon - 1:30 p.m. (Mountain Time)

The Opening General Session kicked off the meeting with an exciting presentation featuring Shankar Vedantam and Bryan Stevenson. NOTE: The presentation by Bryan Stevenson is no longer available for on-demand viewing due to limited recording rights.

Shankar VedantamShankar Vedantam

Shankar Vedantam is the host of the podcast and radio show "Hidden Brain" offering unique insights into how our unconscious biases affect the decisions we make as individuals, groups and organizations. On his podcast, Vedantam connects breakthroughs in social science research with engaging storytelling. "Hidden Brain" is currently among the top 10 podcasts in the United States.

Vedantam is also a social science correspondent with National Public Radio. Before joining NPR in 2011, Vedantam was a national correspondent at The Washington Post, where between 2007 and 2009, he authored the newspaper's weekly Department of Human Behavior column. The award-winning journalist was a 2009-2010 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Bryan StevensonBryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a human rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama. Stevenson is a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults. Stevenson and his staff have won reversals, relief or release from prison for over 135 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row. He has argued and won multiple cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, including a landmark 2012 ruling that banned mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger.

Stevenson has led the creation of two highly acclaimed cultural sites that opened in 2018, The Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The new national landmark institutions chronicle the legacy of slavery, lynching and racial segregation and the connection to mass incarceration and contemporary issues of racial bias. Stevenson’s work has won him numerous awards. He is the author of the award-winning, New York Times bestseller, "Just Mercy", which was recently adapted as a major motion picture.

Photo of Bryan Stevenson courtesy Rog and Bee Walker for EJI