Tag Archives: heroism science

Heroism Science: The Field, the Journal, the Conference

By Scott T. Allison

Although the field of heroism science is roughly two decades old, many people still wonder what the science is, and what it seeks to accomplish.

So here’s a brief description:

Since the year 2000, roughly, there has been a new (or renewed) scientific interest in topics such as morality, cooperation, altruism, wisdom, meaning, purpose, resilience, hope, flow, human growth, courage, empathy, spirituality, health, public service, self-control, emotional intelligence, and character strengths. The past decade especially has witnessed a surge in research on exceptional individuals who best exemplify these positive qualities: heroes and heroic leaders.

Heroism science is a multiple disciplinary field which seeks to understand heroism, the hero’s journey and heroic leadership through three lenses. First, scholars seek to understand the origins of heroism. Second, they aim to identify the many different types of heroism. Third, they seek to illuminate the many processes associated with heroism. These processes can be biological, psychological, sociocultural, and more.

Heroism scientists use of a mix of traditional and new approaches in a wide variety of settings — pedagogy, crisis management, healthcare, counseling, workforce, community development, popular media, online activism, human rights, international relations, digital humanities, to name a few. Heroism science is part of a broader movement that aims to foster holistic well-being, promote heroic awareness and action, civic responsibility and engagement, and build resilient individuals and communities.

As Editor of the field’s flagship journal, Heroism Science, I’m happy to report that the growing multidiscipline of heroism science is doing quite well.

The journal has published dozens of articles authored by the top scholars in the field. In the past two years, there have been over 25,000 downloads of articles published in the journal.  In addition, three special issues in the journal have enjoyed great success. The latest, our special issue on whistleblowers as heroes, has just gotten off the ground and is proving to be especially interesting.

Here are the stated aims of the journal:

Heroism Science is a peer-reviewed open source research journal that aims to advance heroism science theory, research, and application from a broad range of disciplinary perspectives to researchers and the broader community. Contributions from all disciplines are welcome, and cross-disciplinary work, student contributions, non-Western perspectives, and approaches that address racial, ethnic and gender disparities and issues are especially welcome. Heroism Science is the official journal of the Heroic Imagination Project.

I am especially grateful to our Associate Editor, Elaine Kinsella, and to our Production Editor, Smaragda Spyrou. We’d be in dire straights without the contributions of these two outstanding colleagues.

Elaine, in particular, is to be commended for successfully co-hosting (with Eric Igou) the latest biennial Heroism Science conference. The meeting was intended to be in Ireland in 2020, but with the pandemic Elaine and Eric had to postpone until 2021. They wisely decided to make the conference a virtual one, and the entire event was a rousing triumph.

The next heroism science conference will be hosted by Peter Bray in New Zealand in 2023.

Heroism scientists have recently started a Listserve that communicates the latest activities in the field and allows for an open discussion of topics of interest to devotees of heroes and heroism. If you’d like to be included in this Listserve, please contact Golan Shahar at Ben-Gurion University.

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Call for Papers: The Heroic Screen – Special Issue in Heroism Science



In 2020, our lives are lived on-screen now more than ever. Geographically restricted under lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we rely on computer and phone screens to connect with each other, to keep ourselves informed, and to divert ourselves from the constant barrage of bleakness pervading this year. But even before the coronavirus compounded our dependence on the screen, we’ve used it to game, to watch, to see and be seen.

Though it may not seem like it at this moment of history, the screen is replete with heroism. In addition to the dominant popularity of the superhero genre in film, television and video games, we witness real and fictional screen heroics on a regular basis: from the TV show detective finally catching the bad guy, to viral footage of indomitable Black Lives Matter protesters standing their ground against police violence, to Instagram images of children holding impromptu action-figure memorials to Chadwick Boseman through his inspiring turn as cinematic superhero Black Panther. Across political, cultural and social spectrums, the screen is a site for representing, understanding, demonstrating and transmitting heroism and heroic images.

This issue of Heroism Science invites contributors to widely consider how heroism coincides with the screen. The issue’s remit is purposefully broad in order to invite a range of perspectives and disciplines. As the issue arises during the COVID-19 pandemic, articles can, but are not required to, be COVID-19-centric in nature. Potential topics can include (but are not limited to):

  • Capturing heroic acts through smartphones
  • News broadcasts and the coverage of heroism and heroic acts
  • The heroism of fictional police as a contrast to the real police violence of 2020
  • Heroic and superheroic characters and narratives in screen fiction
  • Affordances of screen platforms and how they depict heroism (eg. Video games vs. television)
  • Medical heroes and the screen during COVID-19
  • Heroism, community and the unifying screen during COVID-19
  • Queer heroism on-screen
  • Whistleblowing and heroism
  • Psychological and cognitive processing of screen heroism
  • Heroic acts left out of or not captured on screen
  • Heroism and immersion in video gaming
  • Celebrity/persona heroics on social media
  • The screen as coordinator for heroism through organizing protests and civic action
  • The screen memorializing heroism

Interested contributors should submit an abstract of no more than 250 words and a short bio by 15 December 2020. Successful contributors will be informed in early January 2021, for submission of full papers in April 2021.

Please direct submissions and any questions to the editor, Dr. Chris Comerford, at ccomerfo@uow.edu.au.

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The Launching of ‘Heroism Science’: Blog, Journal, and Online Resource

Super siloBy Scott T. Allison

A new website devoted entirely to promoting heroism and heroism science has been launched by Olivia Efthimiou, a transdisciplinary researcher at Murdoch University, Perth and Associate Researcher at the Australian National Academy of Screen and Sound Research Centre.

The site is called Heroism Science: Promoting the transdisciplinary study of heroism in the 21st century.

The introductory page of the site explains:

“The 21st century has marked a shift in research trends across a number of disciplines, especially due to the increasing relevance of technologies in our daily lives and the demand for more complex and creative ways of thinking about our world. In particular, the focus in the sciences, psychology and the social sciences which have traditionally concentrated on the study of disease, evil, maladaptive and irrational behaviours, is now moving towards understanding positive behaviours and promoting personal and collective well-being.

“This has signaled an unprecedented rise in the study of such fields as resilience, flow, spirituality, sustainability, leadership, faith and many more. Heroism and heroic individuals represent the pinnacle of humanity – Heroismwhat we can become, do and experience. But, as we are discovering, decoding the heroic process, its antecedents and impacts, is far from simple. Heroism science seeks to uncover the many complex layers of this state of human consciousness which has fascinated us since the dawn of humankind, as we look to the future in both awe and fear of what we might achieve.”

The site includes:

Matt Langdon of the Hero Construction Company has already published a blog commentary at Heroism Today called Every Hero Needs a Team.

Scott Allison has published the first article in Heroism Science (HS) called The Initiation of Heroism Science.

Olivia Efthimiou has published the second article in HS entitled The Search For The Hero Gene: Fact or Fiction?

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So there you have it – a website that provides all the information about heroism that you’d ever want to know. Everyone is encouraged to contribute to this site — please consider submitting an essay to the blog or an article to the journal, or contributing new resources and readings about heroes and heroism.

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