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For decades, psychedelic drugs have been associated with “turning on, tuning in, dropping out” and the countercultural baggage of the 1960s. But what if they hold the key to treating a series of health afflictions? Are they safe? Are they effective?

Michael Pollan Photo by Fran Collin

Michael Pollan
Photo by Fran Collin

Six-time New York Times best-selling author Michael Pollan will explore these ideas March 20 in a Q&A session led by Rhonda Phillips, interim dean of Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies. “What If Psychedelics Could Heal?” is set to start at 6 p.m. in Stewart Center’s Fowler Hall. The lecture/presentation is open free to the public. The presentation will be followed by a book signing outside Fowler Hall at 7:15 p.m.

Pollan is author of the recent “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence,” as well as other books including “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.”

This Ideas Festival presentation is among many events celebrating Purdue’s sesquicentennial celebration, 150 Years of Giant Leaps, which acknowledges the university’s global advancements made in a variety of fields. This event aligns with one of the celebration’s Giant Leaps themes, Health, Longevity and Quality of Life.

What IF Psychedelics Could Heal? Featuring Michael Pollan, Purdue University LibrariesPollan has dedicated the last 30 years to exploring and writing about the many ways in which the human and natural worlds intersect. He is the author of eight books, six of which have been New York Times best-sellers, including “Cooked,” which served as the basis for the 2016 Netflix miniseries of the same name; and “The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World” and “In Defense of Food,” both of which have inspired PBS documentaries. Pollan also appeared in the Oscar-nominated documentary “Food Inc.,” which was partially based on another of his books, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.” His work has led him to be chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and has earned him many accolades within his field.

“How to Change Your Mind,” an immediate No. 1 New York Times best-seller, explores the revolutionary potential psychedelics hold in relieving depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction — afflictions that have been characteristically difficult to treat. Today, as scientists and researchers worldwide reevaluate hallucinogens and their potential healing powers, Pollan strives to provide some clarity on the safety and effectiveness of these substances.

“As the world of medicine continues to evolve, psychedelics and their role in treating mental illness have become a huge area of research interest,” Phillips said. “Given Purdue’s longstanding dedication to seeking out innovative solutions to improve the quality of life, we are very excited to hear Pollan’s take on an unconventional method of healing, as well as the medical and societal implications it may have.”

This event is sponsored by Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies and Purdue Archives and Special Collections – which is home of the Betsy Gordon Psychoactive Substances Research Collection – and is co-sponsored by the Department of Chemistry, the Honors College, the College of Pharmacy, the College of Science, Purdue Graduate Student Government, and the Ideas Festival Committee.

Writer: Jaclyn Lawmaster, jlawmast@purdue.edu

Media Contact: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu