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Psych Students Hear from Guest Speakers on Zoom

Students in Ethical Issues Concerning the Developing Child, taught by Nava Silton, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology, spend the semester exploring the moral, social, biological, and cognitive aspects of development in order to facilitate an understanding and analysis of ethical dilemmas. Last week, they had the exciting opportunity to hear from two expert guest speakers during their class discussions on Zoom.

Drew Leder, M.D., Ph.D. Drew Leder, M.D., Ph.D.On May 5, Drew Leder, M.D., Ph.D., MMC’s Ferraro Fellow on Prison Education and Public Philosophy, joined the class to speak on the impact of incarceration on incarcerated mothers and their children. The class discussed shocking statistics regarding incarceration, the hope for more “enlightened prisons,” and the challenges of incarceration for children growing up without a mother during their key developmental years. Dr. Leder helped advance students’ understanding of child development through the provocative exploration of ethical issues related to vulnerable child populations.

Eustacia Cutler and daughter, Temple Grandin Eustacia Cutler and daughter, Temple GrandinOn May 12, Dr. Silton was thrilled to surprise her students with a guest appearance by Eustacia Cutler, the mother of renowned autism and animal husbandry researcher, Temple Grandin. Cutler, a graduate of Harvard University and author of A Thorn in My Pocket, offered students a personal perspective on raising a child with autism during a time when very little was known about the disability and discussed the biographical drama film Temple Grandin, which the students had viewed as part of the course.

“Having this opportunity was something I may have dreamed of, but never expected to happen,” said Amanda (Pand) Milo ’22, Psychology major in the course. “Eustacia Cutler and her daughter [Temple Grandin] mean a lot to my family and me for all they’ve done for individuals with autism.”

Cutler also relayed how lonely it can be to be on the spectrum and connected with students over the deep sense of loneliness many are feeling in the current climate. “The group connected and was particularly responsive to the loneliness that hits families where there’s autism,” Cutler said. “In these strange weeks of social isolation, we’ve all of us learned first-hand just how lonely that loneliness feels.” 

Students shared in Dr. Silton’s appreciation of the speakers’ deep level of candor, thoughtfulness, and wisdom. Regina Colie ’22, sophomore Psychology major, reflected on the impact the speakers had on the class. Over the last two weeks, I have had the opportunity to meet two incredible people who are such experts in their fields: Drew Leder and Eustacia Cutler. It was such an honor and privilege to meet both of them. The work they have done and their level of expertise was outstanding, and they were such fascinating people to speak with about their many years of experience,” she says. “Both of them were great reminders as to why I want to continue pursuing a career in psychology. I want to thank Dr. Nava Silton personally for having both of them appear in our class!”

Published: May 15, 2020