Ben Harris

Professor of Psychology and Affiliate Professor of History - College of Liberal Arts

Professor Harris traveled to The Netherlands in August. While there he met with faculty members and administrators at Utrecht University to discuss ways to facilitate student and faculty exchanges between that university and UNH. He also participated in the annual meeting of the European Society for the History of Human Science (ESHHS).

Ben Harris in garden at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Ben Harris at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Utrecht University (UU) is the largest and overall top-rated university in the Netherlands. Academically it is in the top 10 universities in all of Europe. It enrolls 2,000 international students and has a formal agreement with UNH for exchanging undergraduate and graduate students. Three years ago I taught a UU student in my senior-level course in the history of psychology, and I knew that a few UNH psychology majors had studied there for a semester. Discovering that the psychology department at UU was academically strong and shared our emphases on (a) health psychology and brain-behavior relations, and (b) theoretical and historical bases of psychology, I wanted to find out what I could do to strengthen the ties between UU and UNH.

Before going to Utrecht I met with Catherine D’Auteuil, Coordinator of Student Programs at the CIE. With her help I corresponded with the faculty at UU who coordinate exchanges for departments in the humanities and in the social sciences (where psychology is located). At the conference reception I talked with the administrator who gave the welcoming address: Dr. Willem Koops, Dean of the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Distinguished Professor of Developmental Psychology. We mostly talked about our shared interest in the history of developmental psychology but I mentioned the UNH-UU exchange. During the conference I met with two faculty members in psychology who were our hosts: Jaap Bos and Ruud Abma. I also met with Dean Koops’ personal assistant, who was coordinating the conference arrangements.

At the end of the conference I had lunch at the faculty club with Dean Koops and Ms. Joki van de Poel, who oversees faculty exchanges in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. We talked about strengthening the student exchange and Dean Koops also described his interest in faculty exchanges and visiting faculty appointments.

University Hall (Academiegebouw) at Utrech University
University Hall (Academiegebouw) at Utrech University

At the ESHHS conference I presented some of my research in the history of developmental psychology and chaired a screening and discussion session of a new documentary about the history of anthropology, Herskovitz at the Heart of Blackness. Finally, I chaired the final session of the conference, at which I had to gently retake the podium from the President of the Romanian Psychological Society-- when he rambled long past his time limit.

At the ESHHS business meeting I helped promote a 2012 joint meeting of that organization with its North American sister organization, the Cheiron Society-- of which I am the former Executive Officer.

This fall I am teaching two sections of Abnormal Behavior, a 500 level course. After a presentation by CIE staff and my personal description of life at UU and in the city of Utrecht, three of my students have applied to spend spring 2011 at the Honors College within Utrecht University. I will follow up that success with a meeting with Catherine D’Auteuil to plan further collaboration.