Two alumni who did not know each other as undergraduates—but were both psychology majors and students of Professor of Psychology Karl Scheibe—have collaborated on editing a book examining academic collaborations.
The book, Collaboration in Psychological Science: Behind the Scenes, was published this fall by Worth Publishing, a division of MacMillan. The editors, Richie Zweigenhaft ’67, the Charles A. Dana Professor of Psychology at Guilford College, and Eugene Borgida ’71, Professor of psychology and law at the University of Minnesota and a Morse-Alumni Distinguished Professor of Psychology, dedicate the book to Professor Karl Scheibe, their undergraduate mentor, five years apart.
Separated by this age difference, the two did not meet on Middletown campus, but through Zweigenhaft’s mother, Irene, when Borgida showed up at her place of employment, American Institutes for Research (AIR), looking for a job. Seeing his résumé, and noting that Borgida attended Wesleyan and one of his references, Professor Karl Scheibe, was one of her son’s favorite professors, Irene took the young graduate under her wing and he was hired at AIR. The two Wesleyan graduates eventually met and developed a warm collegial friendship from their respective institutions.
The two began speaking of the importance of collaborations in research and noting an increased trend. In their introduction, the editors note,”[P]sychologists today engage in a good deal of collaboration, collaborative research is likely to generate the most frequently cited work in the field, and some scholars and some institutions very much encourage collaboration. Ironically, however, little has been written about the complicated behind-the scenes process of working with others to design research, to gather and analyze data, and to write reports, articles, or books…. With these issues and questions in mind, we encouraged those who wrote chapters for this volume to tell us how they came to collaborate and the nature of their interactions, while collaborating.” The result is a book of 21 essays, with contributors from Princeton, University of Michigan, the American Psychological Association, and the University of Kent, to name a few—and a section on interdisciplinary collaboration, with conclusion by the editors offering best practices.
The book is dedicated to both Irene Zweigenhaft and Professor of Psychology Emeritus, Karl Scheibe. Both Zweigenhaft and Borgida consider their Wesleyan experience a crucial factor in shaping their scholarship and interest in developing collaborations across academic disciplines.
“My undergraduate experience at Wesleyan very much emphasized interdisciplinarity,” says Zweigenhaft. ” In fact, although I was a psychology major, I wrote my honors thesis with Phil Pomper in the history department. It was a study of Hitler’s personality—the result of a conversation that Phil and I had after I wrote a paper about Lenin in a seminar on the Russian Revolution that I took with him. Karl Scheibe was on the thesis committee, and he, like Phil, encouraged me to think across traditional disciplinary lines.”
“From my perch,” says Borgida,” there is no question that my own deep affinity for interdisciplinary scholarship was activated and nurtured while at Wesleyan. And with such a view of research questions comes a commitment to collaboration across disciplinary boundaries and state lines in order to generate the most insight into the questions posed. To me, Wesleyan was then and is now all about interdisciplinarity and collaboration. So in a very basic way the book with Richie basks in the value of a Wes education.”