My teaching expertise is broadly in the history and philosophy of science, psychology, and bioethics, and management (especially cross-cultural management and diversity). As a teacher, I emphasize experiential and discussion-based learning, using case studies and hands-on activities to show students how course concepts apply to their own experiences of the world.
Making Up People
I most recently taught a brand new course I designed for the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto. The course is called Making Up People: Psychology, Business, and the Self in 20th-Century America and will draw on material culture, popular culture, and readings in history of psychology, science studies, and history of business. The course description follows:
Are you an introvert or an extravert? Right-brained or left-brained? A millennial or a baby boomer? Such categories surround us in our daily lives, serving as ways of carving up human beings according to their psychological characteristics. This course takes as its subject the manifold tools, techniques, and theories that measure and categorize human beings, from intelligence testing to brain imaging scans. It examines the network of actors who developed such schemas and techniques, including psychologists and neuroscientists, but also management consultants and marketers, who rely on psychological classifications to describe people as workers or as consumers.
A cluster of questions will guide the course: How do psychologists, and other experts, study psychological characteristics? How do human beings get studied through the scientific method? What are the implications when human beings, both as individuals and as groups, come to be objects of scientific investigation? What ethical and methodological concerns arise in classifying human beings? How do social categories, like gender, race, and class, intersect, or come to be embedded in, psychological categories? We will approach these questions by drawing on scholarship in the history of psychology, science, business, and the self; through encounters with material objects from the University of Toronto Scientific Instrument Collection’s trove of psychological tests; and through your own critical and engaged interaction with psychology in everyday life.
The course will follow a hybrid format, including a lecture by me (or a guest), as well as breakaway small group activities, and general group discussion. This class emphasizes respectful, active participation and reflective engagement with the material through class discussion, active listening, and online participation.