The purpose of the Altruistic Behavior Institute is to seek out ways to enhance altruism and prosocial behavior in society.


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Conversations on Altruism

Maral Attallah (Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies) and Ronnie Swartz (Director of the Altruistic Behavior Institute) host public conversations with seasoned academics, researchers, practitioners, and educators who join a new generation of those interested in possibilities for doing good.

Conversation on Altruism with Cheryl Seidner. October 10, 2023.
  • Cheryl A. Seidner’s passionate work on behalf of indigenous communities has enriched the lives of people throughout our nations. She is recognized for her ability to foster cooperative activism among American Indians at the regional, state and national level. Ms. Seidner has taken leadership roles with a number of organizations and on a number of issues. Her work has included serving on the Executive Committee for the National Congress of American Indians and the Northern California Indian Development Council. As the Tribal Chair for the Wiyot Tribe, Ms. Seidner dedicated herself to numerous efforts to honor Wiyot worldviews and cultural practices. She oversaw the repatriation of Tuluwat, a sacred site for her people, and was instrumental in bringing back the Wiyot young woman’s coming-of-age ceremony. Ms. Seidner helped organize an annual candlelight vigil as a memorial to those who died in the massacres of 1860, and drove revitalization of the world renewal ceremony that was held once again in 2014. Ms. Seidner is a published writer and poet whose work has appeared in the Humboldt Historian and News from Native California, as well as books including California Fault and Gold, Greed, and Genocide. She has given lectures about the Wiyot people throughout California and worked in the Educational Opportunity Program at Cal Poly Humboldt for 30 years. She is a visionary, a leader, and a community-builder.
Conversation on Altruism with Loren Me'-lash-ne Bommelyn. February 3, 2023.
  • Me’-lash-ne was born in 1956 at Taa-‘at-dvn, California in Crescent City. He was reared at Nii~-lii~-chvn-dvn on the Smith River near Fort Dick, California. He was born into Federal Termination that ravaged the Dee-ni’ social fabric and stalled their cultural cognition heightened by spiritual interference. He partook in the linguistic and cultural revitalization, and the Federal Restoration of the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation. In his youth Me’-lash-ne was recruited by the Spiritual Knowledge Keepers to hold Tolowa Ceremony and carry the responsibility of Ghii Lhee-wi, The Equilibrium. The Tolowa Language project began in the 1950s. Language instruction began in 1969 by Eminence Credential Licensure. Me’-lash-ne developed fluency and an author of the Tolowa Dee-ni’ language. His generation was the first to attend the university and permeate the Cultural Glass Ceiling. He completed his teaching credential in 1980 and became the first credentialed Indian Language teacher in California. He returned home to teach Tolowa, Art, Biology and Social Studies in the public school system. He attended the University of Oregon to earn his master’s degree in Linguistics in 1997. He retired from 34 years of teaching in 2014 and from 25 years with the Nation’s Council in 2017. His lifelong intention is to assist in the restoration of the Dee-ni’ Race to thrive as Lhaa-‘i’ Xvsh, A Humankind Member of Mother Earth.
Conversation on Altruism with Shaunna McCovey. November 15, 2022.
  • Shaunna Oteka McCovey is currently the Direc­tor of Governmental Affairs at Resighini Rancheria. Shaunna has worked for Tribal Governments, envi­ronmental non-profits and the Federal Government, where she negotiated compacts with Tribal nations. She has also been an associate professor at Cal Poly Humboldt. Her poems and essays have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online journals. Her poem “I Still Eat All of My Meals with a Mussel Shell” appears in the 2020 anthology, When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through, edited by U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo. McCovey is Yurok and Karuk and a member of the Yurok Tribe.
Conversation on Altruism with Lois Risling. September 24, 2022.
  • Lois Risling is a community leader, elder, Medicine Woman, and educator. She spent more than 20 years at Cal Poly Humboldt, first as the Director of the Indian Teacher Education Personnel Program, and then as the Director for the Center for Indian Community Development. She was an instructor working with future educators on best practices for classroom teaching and is a well-known advocate for Native American sovereignty. She is a member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe and is also Karuk and Yurok.


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Altruistic Behavior Institute 
Cal Poly Humboldt 
1 Harpst Street 
Arcata, CA 95521
707.826.4553 (p) 

Ronnie Swartz, Director

Brenna Killoran, Program Assistant