On March 8-10, Nobles hosts a GoodWork conference: “Developing Responsible, Caring, and Balanced Youth.” Eminent Harvard educator, author and psychologist, Howard Gardner, welcomed attendees hailing from 10 countries and 16 states.

“It is the best of times, the worst of times,” said Gardner on Friday morning in Lawrence Auditorium, echoing Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities. He noted, for example, that modern times bring a burgeoning interest in teaching empathy alongside epidemics of cheating and bullying. He introduced the keynote speaker, Danielle Allen, as an intellectual powerhouse. “She is absolutely fearless,” he said.

Allen, a classicist, political theorist and educator, spoke about Sophocles’ Antigone as activist; the philosopher Hannah Arendt’s ruminations on the “doer” and “sufferer,” and the boundlessness of individual responsibility and the ramifications of action in the 21st century.

“Youth today are growing up with both new opportunities and new pressures,” according to the conference website. “Market forces and commodification pervade all realms of life. Fierce competition marks both the college admissions process and the fields of work young people aim to enter. Digital media allow constant connectivity with others, exposure to diverse perspectives, and powerful tools for engagement in the world—media that can be used for the good, but also that can perpetrate harms.

“Pressing questions arise for us as educators and parents: How do we raise balanced, responsible, and caring youth in this opportunity-rich yet challenging context?”

Nobles visual arts faculty members Betsy VanOot and John Dorsey presented “Do You See What I See?: Examining Potential Disconnects in the Decoding of Electronic Visual Information”; Nobles students Andrew Fai, Ali Grogan and Max Montgomery served on a plenary session panel with John Palfrey, head of school at Philips Academy Andover.

The conference features more than 20 presentations focused on helping youth find meaning and balance. Read more about the conference at http://casieonline.org/events/pz/gw

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