Cara Hagan: Where Ritual and Civic Practice Meet

The Berger Institute teamed up with the Gould Center for Humanistic Rights to invite Cara Hagan to the Athenaeum on January 29th, 2024. 

Cara Hagan, Associate Professor and Program Director for the MFA in Contemporary Theatre Performance at The New School, describes herself as “a mover, maker, writer, curator, champion of just communities, and a dreamer.” She believes deeply in the transformative power of art, challenging traditional notions of time and physics in the pursuit of liberation. Hagan’s work spans various mediums, including live performances, on-screen films, art installations, poetry, books, and numerous other forms. She emphasizes that the end result is just as significant as the journey of creating the work itself. 

Cara started her presentation with a poem, “Welcome to you and your body,” setting the tone for an exploration of the relationships, interactions, and experiences of humans in various spaces. She accompanied the poem with an evocative short film “Cygnus,” portraying a solitary figure dancing gracefully in a shallow lake, symbolizing the beauty and movement of the human body. 

Following the poem, Cara prompted the audience to utilize their bodies together, starting with clapping, stomping, and humming, to create a symphony of sounds that echoed throughout the Athenaeum. Afterward, she invited the audience to collectively synchronize seven deep breaths, raising their arms over their heads when inhaling, and lowering them while exhaling in unison. These simple yet profound actions engaged the audience in a shared artistic expression, illustrating Cara’s concept of civic engagement through collaborative artmaking.

She illustrated the power of her approach with another example of her work: a recent art installation called the Altar for Black Lives, which emerged in her North Carolina community following the tragic murder of George Floyd and others due to racism. Through the act of memorializing the victims, the installation provided a platform for her community to collaborate, express, and envision a more peaceful and equitable future. 

Cara delivered a unique and interactive Athenaeum presentation never seen before. The Berger Institute and all members of the community who attended her presentation deeply appreciate Cara’s use of art and movement to engage others in reimagining the world we live in. 

Racism takes years off our lives, ritualism attempts to take some of that time back.

 –  Cara Hagan

Project STRIVE and Resilience

In a remarkable journey shaped by personal resilience, Director of the Berger Institute Stacey Doan has become a leading researcher on resilience, particularly among youth. Recently awarded prestigious grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Global, Doan is spearheading resilience-based interventions for youth facing adversity. Her transformative research, specifically Project STRIVE, aims to evaluate the effectiveness of resilience programs, identify key factors impacting outcomes, and extend the benefits to historically underrepresented adolescents in underserved communities. This initiative, blending positive psychology and contemplative practices, has the potential to prevent mental health issues among historically underrepresented youth and illuminate risks in other minority groups.

Click here to read more about Dr. Doan’s research journey at CMC.

Talking about Open Science with Roman Briker

On February 8, 2022, amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, the Berger Institute invited Dr. Roman Briker to give an Open Science Zoom talk to members of the Claremont community. Dr. Briker is an Assistant Professor in Organizational Behavior & Human Resource Management at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Roman’s research interests are interactions between humans and AI and social and organizational hierarchies. 

In this talk, Dr. Briker discussed the reasons for the emergence and processes of the replication crisis of the early 2010s. He also stressed the importance of understanding open science and how it can be implemented in the scientific community and society.

 The replication crisis occurs when researchers cannot replicate or obtain similar results to the original, peer-reviewed study when repeating that study using the same methods and population. In the early 2010s, prominent researchers admitted to faking their data, and large-scale research projects revealed that most findings in psychological studies could not be replicated. At the peak of replication, Diederik Stapel falsified data on Microsoft Excel in his garage and published 59 journals and papers: they were all based on fabricated data. Given that the relevance and utility of science critically hinges on the trustworthiness of its findings, these developments constitute a huge burden for scientists and stakeholders wanting to apply scientific knowledge. 

To combat this problem, Dr. Briker introduces Open Science, which refers to an array of practices that promote openness, integrity, and reproducibility in research. The key elements of Open Science include public preregistration of the study before collecting data, replication of trials, uploading data to the public, and more. Because it is a more transparent and honest approach to publishing research, open science becomes a solution to reduce the problems of the replication crisis and simultaneously increases the quality and success of the findings. 

Attendees asked provoking questions in the Q&A afterwards and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to hear aboutDr. Briker’s expertise. 

“Science shouldn’t be a good story. Science should be about the truth.” – Dr. Roman Briker.

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Life After Psychology

On October 29th, 2021, the Berger Institute for Individual and Social Development, hosted three panelists who pursued non-traditional career paths after earning degrees in Psychology: Faye Sahai, Haley Umans, and Matt Wallaert. Ms. Sahai is now a partner at Mirai Global, Managing Director at Vinaj Ventures, and an Advisory Board member for the Berger Institute.  Ms. Umans is a PhD candidate at Claremont Graduate University and the Director of Evaluations at LA’s BEST. Finally, Mr. Wallaert is the Head of Behavioral Science at frog, a consultancy firm specializing in designing and building experiences, products and businesses. 

Each speaker had valuable advice for students, and they elaborated on how psychology is an important part of their professional roles even though they are not directly working in academic or clinical psychology fields. Each speaker took a unique journey to arrive where they are now in their careers. Ms. Umans described how she chose the field of program evaluations because she felt that it opened a lot of doors for her, and that she could pursue many different directions with the experience. After realizing that she enjoyed research and working with children, she found that doing evaluations of programs designed for children gave her the perfect balance between research and community engagement.

Mr. Wallaert continued on a more traditional academic path by continuing to study psychology in graduate school, but he left that path to become one of the pioneers of the field of behavioral science. Working in the field of technology, his training in psychology and human behavior has been especially helpful in the field of technology. Mr. Wallaert described how the focus of his work differs from that of academics. For example, rather than wondering if a p-value is significant, he says, his work is concerned with understanding how technology design may impact the risk to return ratio.

Ms. Sahai explored many different careers and companies before finding her passion in venture capital where she is now. She explored traditional consulting and non-profit work, and utilized every skill she learned in each position as she continued through her career path. Ms. Sahai also highlighted the importance of understanding behavioral science in her work, explaining how it shapes many of her decisions on the job.

Attendees gained useful insights from the panelists, and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to hear their stories. 

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How We Thrive at Work: Understanding the Needs of Minoritized Employees

Students and staff working at the METRICS lab and the Berger Institute over the summer were able to take part in a thrilling panel that discussed “How We Thrive at Work: Understanding the Needs of Minoritized Employees” led by four distinguished panelists: Dr. Alicia Grandey, Dr. Mikki Hebl, Dr. Enrica Ruggs, and Dr. Daan Van Knippenberg. 

Dr. Alicia Grandey joined the industrial-organizational psychology program at Penn State University in 1999. Her 65+ publications and book focus on performing emotional labor in customer service and workplace mistreatment in the diverse workplace, and her award-winning research is frequently cited by both scholars and media. Dr. Grandey highlighted how social movements over the past few years, such as the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movement have brought in emotions often unseen into the workplace. Dr. Grandey also discussed how women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) face more consequences for showcasing anger than their fellow co-workers. To combat this, she suggested that leaders do both self-work and reflection to understand these issues themselves, and that they create a time and space for these emotionally laboring conversations to occur. 

Dr. Mikki Hebl is a professor of psychology and management at Rice University. Her research specifically focuses on workplace discrimination and the barriers stigmatized individuals (such as women and ethnic minorities) face in social interactions, the hiring process, business settings, and the medical community. Dr. Hebl, in response to the question of how new employees can make change in the workplace, reminded the students that they are the future as the incoming workforce, and that despite not having organizational power as new employees, they should still act upon their eagerness to help minoritized employees. 

Dr. Enrica Ruggs is an Assistant Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion (CWDI) in the Fogelman College of Business and Economics at the University of Memphis. In her research she examines individual, organizational, and societal factors that influence inequality in the workplace. Dr. Ruggs reminded students that both managers and employees can use empathy to diminish discrimination in the workplace. Dr. Ruggs highlighted how empathy is a powerful, research-backed tool for creating work environments where employees feel valued and are able to succeed.

Dr. Daan van Knippenberg is Joseph F. Rocereto Chair in Leadership at Drexel University. He was Editor in Chief of Academy of Management Annals, Founding Editor of Organizational Psychology Review, and Associate Editor of Academy of Management Journal, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, and Journal of Organizational Behavior. Dr. Knippenberg reminded students that an organizational structure where employees have to hide their identities will make it difficult for those employees to thrive, as what we do is intertwined with who we are. While the work employees accomplish is important, the success of employees also depends on their levels of belonging and comfort in the workplace. 

Attendees were inspired by the panelists’ encouraging words and advice, and were thankful for this opportunity. Follow @bergerinstitute on Facebook and Instagram for future updates on events!