Author: Erica Young, University of Maryland - Baltimore County
As a working professional, you know it can be difficult to dedicate non-working (and working) time to your personal and professional growth. Commitments, limited time, or money hold us back from taking the opportunity to focus on our growth and the growth of I-O psychology.
However, opportunities do exist. One of the most prestigious and well-known of those opportunities is the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences (CASBS).
Since 1954, CASBS has been hosting a cohort of 40 fellows per year at the center, where they have no departmental or teaching commitments. Instead, they are given a study, each other, and the creative space to further their professional goals.
Most of the fellows came to the center at crucial moments in their career (after applying and being accepted) and used their time at the center to write books, complete research, and develop theories. Among past CASBS fellows, 26 won Nobel Prizes, 24 won Pulitzer Prizes, and 51 won MacArthur “Genius” Awards. The Tyler Collection library holds all of the texts written at CASBS by the fellows, including (but certainly not limited to), Who Governs, by Ronald Dahl, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn and Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.
In addition to the center’s prestige and many accolades, the major draw for scholars is the collaborative environment. The CASBS website states that the environment allows fellows to gain “exposure to new methods, perspectives, theories, and problems.” Once per week, one of the fellows delivers a presentation on their area of interest to their peers. In addition, scholars from across the world often visit and meet with the current fellows.
You might be wondering if any I-O psychologists have been part of CASBS. Many well-known social psychologists and organizational behavior scholars (e.g., Richard Hackman, Ed Lawler) have been CASBS fellows. For the first time, they hosted an I-O psychologist in 2016-17. That psychologist is Tara Behrend, P.h.D., Associate Professor of Industrial-Organizational Psychology at the George Washington University. Tara’s interest and research focuses on how people’s experiences at work have been impacted by technology. She is also interested in how I-O psychologists can build more fair and equitable workplaces and socioeconomic systems. Tara is the director of the Workplaces and Virtual Environments (WAVE) lab at GW.
To apply for a CASBS fellowship, she proposed a project she would work on during her time there. However, like most CASBS fellows, the experience of being exposed to new perspectives changed the nature of the project. Tara is writing a book on privacy and surveillance; she also used her time at CASBS to develop a second book about Workforce Effectiveness that will be part of the SIOP Frontiers series. Tara said her time at CASBS, contributing to a book and collaborating with the other fellows allowed her to “seek refuge from the world and to think and collaborate in a very enriching environment”. Tara was able to choose the office she conducted her work in and she said she chose her office based off the influential social psychologists who had used the office previously. Because Tara is inspired by the work of Albert Bandura and Harold Kelley (among others), she chose to start her book in the space they once occupied while at CASBS.
Overall, Tara had a fulfilling, inspiring and uplifting time as a fellow at CASBS. Tara said she enjoyed being an advocate for I-O, in a space that I-O has not traditionally participated in. Tara compared her experience to returning to college, where she was encouraged to interact with different people of different disciplines and from it “gained a deep appreciation for other social scientists” in addition to deepening her appreciation for I-O. After finishing her fellowship at CASBS, she returned to Washington, DC to continue her research and teaching, and continues to work on her books. Keep an eye out for her literature and work. It will be inspiring to see the next I-O psychologist attend CASBS and work in the “Behrend” study.