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A Requiem for “Soc Rel”: Here’s to Synthesizing Social Science

As both an undergraduate at Harvard College in the early 1960s, and as a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in the late 1960s, I studied in a field called “Social Relations”—universally shortened to “Soc Rel” (and pronounced “Sock Rell”). Right after I received my degree in 1971, the field […]

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Two Departures from the Professoriate: A World Apart

Matt Welsh was a highly talented assistant professor of computer science at Harvard University. Like some but by no means all junior professors, he was approved to become a full time, tenured professor—indeed, he was the occupant of a named chair “The Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science.” Just months after receiving tenure, Welsh resigned […]

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“Why Are You Doing That Research?”

I am often asked about how I became interested in a certain line of research. Recently, people have asked me why, at the age of 70, I embarked on a very large empirical study of higher education in the United States. One answer: I’ve always been interested in education. As a young child, I thought […]

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Early Stops on My Quest for Mind

As an adolescent, I became interested in the field of psychology. My interests in psychological topics resembled those of most American adolescents—curiosity about my own personality, emotions, family relations, ambitions, and anxieties. And so it is not surprising that when I had the chance (as an undergraduate), I seized the opportunity to study with Erik […]

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Reflections on Transformations

In several blogs I this series, I have written about the transformative powers of education. Drawing on my own experiences over a long life spent almost exclusively in educational institutions, I have recalled mentors, books, travels, and meetings—usually ones that had a positive transformative effect, but also mentioning at least one transformational experience that was […]

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