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Phi Beta Kappa scholar on campus today, tomorrow

By Sally Harris

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 23 - March 13, 1997

Kenneth J. Gergen, the Gil and Frank Mustin professor of psychology at Swarthmore College, will be at Virginia Tech March today and tomorrow as Phi Beta Kappa visiting scholar.

His visit is sponsored by the Mu Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Gergen will give a public lecture, titled "Technology, Self and the Moral Project," today at 4 p.m. in the Hillcrest living room.

In this lecture, which reflects his most recent thinking, Gergen will engage concerns about the impact of technology, particularly computers, on the self and questions of community-based morality. He is especially interested in developing the concept of relational being as a means to a viable future in a society transformed by technology. This timely topic brings together vital reflections on technology and also looks critically at some of our cherished traditions and the broad issue of moral action.

In addition, during his two-day campus visit, Gergen will lecture and lead discussions in several classes in humanities and psychology. On Friday afternoon, he will address the Psychology Colloquium in 102 GBJ.

A graduate of Yale University with a Ph.D. in psychology from Duke University, Gergen began his teaching career at Harvard and moved to Swarthmore in 1967. He has also served as a visiting professor at Kyoto University, Marburg University, the Sorbonne, and Heidelberg University. Recently he was a Fulbright fellow in Argentina, a resident scholar at the Rockefeller Study Center in Italy, and a fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study.

Gergen was awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Prize in the Humanities in Germany and has received grants and fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the Guggenheim and Ford Foundations. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, an associate editor of Theory and Psychology, and a founder of the Taos Institute.

Gergen is most widely known for his writings on the self, both in historical and cultural context, and his explication of a social constructionist view of human science. Of his 21 published books, his most significant writings include Toward Transformation in Social Knowledge (1982, 1994), The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Everyday Life (1991), and Reality and Relationships (1994).