About Nelson Bingham

Nelson -resized2Growing up along the seacoast of southern New Jersey, it was quite a leap to move to Indiana in 1974. But, in some ways, I may have been "destined" to teach at Earlham — my undergraduate work (A.B. in Psychology, 1970) was at Johns Hopkins, a university founded by a Quaker; and my graduate study (Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, 1978) was at Cornell University, another university founded by a Quaker. At Hopkins, I was able to engage in research on infant-mother attachment with Mary Ainsworth. At Cornell, I was involved in studies of mother-infant interaction and language development. My dissertation research involved comparison of family day care homes vs. group day care centers for infants.

Since coming to Earlham, my teaching in the Psych department has focused on developmental psychology, but my interests have been so eclectic that it is difficult to discern a true focus. I have taught general introductory courses, as well as sophomore-level courses on human development and on cognition. Other advanced courses have included cross-cultural psychology, the family (Japan vs. the U.S.), moral education, the effects of television, fostering creativity, young adult development, and others. I have also been drawn into various interdisciplinary directions, particularly through the Human Development and Social Relations (HDSR) program — teaching, at one time or another, in all of the core courses for that program — Persons & Systems, Ethics & Social Justice; Self, Society & Social Thought; and the Senior Seminar.

My research interests over the past 20 years have centered around three areas — the development of young adults in college, development in Japanese culture and multi-generational developmental psychology. I have been conducting surveys and interviews with Earlham College entering students, seniors, and alumni to trace longitudinal changes in attitudes, values, and life experiences. Many psychology majors have worked as research assistants with me on this project, gaining valuable experience in research design, data collection and analysis, and writing reports. Another major activity has involved continuing study of Japanese culture — beginning with investigation of Japanese day care programs for infants in 1977 and including a study of juvenile delinquency among Japanese youth in 1990. As an outgrowth of this work, I have done many workshops, seminars and programs for both Americans and Japanese on intercultural understanding between these two societies. Lastly, I have been investigating the connection between family history and personal identity, using interviews and case histories.

In recent years, I have been spending the majority of my time in the administrative role of Provost and Vice-President.  That role involves collaborating with and serving as a back-up for the President in all aspects of College operations.  In addition, the Provost oversees Earlham’s Graduate Programs in Education, Institutional Research Office and programs focused on Religious Life on Campus as well as convening the Diversity Progress, Committee, the Emergency Planning and Response Team, and a variety of special projects.

Throughout my career here, family has been important to me. My wife, Gail, works at the Earlham School of Religion. We enjoy horseback riding together and socializing with friends around games, sports and other events. Our son, Ed is married with two children (Caitie and Zach) and works with developmentally-disabled adults. Our daughter, Willow, graduated from Earlham with a History major and is an Associate Dean of Admissions at the College.  She and her husband have a son, Jacob. Grandparenting provides me with a constant renewal of my sense of awe about human development.

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Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts, including the sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

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