WSU psychology professor Craig Parks

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University Psychology Professor Craig Parks will present a lecture on why some public projects succeed or fail, at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, in the Honors Hall Lounge.

Parks presentation, titled “Build the Skate Park and Kill the Swimming Pool: Why People Want Some Societal Projects to Succeed and Others to Fail,” marks the inaugural Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series program.

Hosted by the Honors College and its Honors Student Advisory Council, the series will feature six lectures this year — three in fall semester and three in spring.

“This lectureship series has been established to provide Honors College students and the community with an opportunity to hear about the outstanding accomplishments of WSU faculty and the impact of their work,” says M. Grant Norton, dean of the Honors College. “We are pleased that Dr. Parks will be our first guest speaker. His research into human cooperation is ground-breaking.”

Parks’ research looks at under what conditions people will work for the common good versus actively opposing a collectively beneficial endeavor, and at how someone’s personality as well as the influence of others affects cooperation. He seeks to apply his research to energy and natural resource consumption problems; part of his research is directed toward collaborations with energy companies, and helping policymakers use social science research to develop effective policy on collective goods. He works with energy engineers, geochemists and environmental law experts.

A recent article by Parks and co-authors was published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest; it examines more than 25 years’ worth of studies on the use and support of public goods ranging from radio broadcasts to drinking water.

He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois and has been on faculty at WSU since 1993.

The second lecture in the Distinguished Lecture Series is set for Oct. 21 and will feature Cliff Berkman, professor of chemistry.