Fred Guttenberg in conversation with Valerie Biden at the University Of Delaware
August 14

Fred Guttenberg in conversation with Valerie Biden at the University Of Delaware

Rebooting reason and civility

Photos courtesy of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF)

Valerie Biden Owens leads a discussion at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Nostos conference in Athens, Greece

A University of Delaware delegation including UD President Dennis Assanis, UD First Lady Eleni Assanis, Biden School Dean Amy Ellen Schwartz, Biden Institute Chair Valerie Biden Owens, Biden School Assistant Dean Sebastian Stelios Jannelli, and Biden School SNF Ithaca Director Timothy J. Shaffer recently attended the 2023 Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Nostos conference. They joined researchers, practitioners, and activists in Athens, Greece to discuss the state of mental health across the globe.

Speakers included former President Barack Obama, actors Glenn Close and Goldie Hawn, U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy and Special Olympics Chair Timothy Shriver. Sessions addressed loneliness, arts, AI, and technology such as chatbots and telehealth and their effects on mental health; the importance of support systems; and the mental health challenges faced by specific populations, including young people.

Two reports from the World Health Organization served as backdrops for the discussions, including the World Mental Health Report: Transforming Mental Health for All showing that mental health needs across the world are high, but responses are insufficient and inadequate. Another report found the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide.

The Biden School’s Valerie Biden Owens led a plenary entitled “Rebooting Reason and Civility.” She explored the power of empathy to “overcome all of the forces designed to divide us, restore civility, and bring reason back to our national and international life.” 

Biden Owens interviewed Fred Guttenberg, an author and activist. Guttenberg lost his brother to 9/11-related cancer and his daughter Jaime was murdered at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Parkland, Florida. During their discussion, they spoke of how we have become a society that elevates division and difference above solutions and shared aspirations.