Susan Marie Groppi


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I received a Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2006. My primary field of study was the history of science, with a specific focus on the history of the life sciences in the United States.

My dissertation, “The Science of Mind: Exploring the Influence of the Academic Environment on the Development of Research Psychology,” develops the relationship between psychology and its earliest academic environment in America. The decades from approximately 1880 to 1910 saw a profound and multifaceted restructuring of the American higher educational system: a shift from the ideals of the liberal arts college to those of the scientific research university, the emergence of women’s colleges as an important site for new disciplines, the expansion of access to higher education through the effects of the Morrill Act and the subsequent rapid growth of public universities in the Midwest and West, and the incorporation of new instructional philosophies and strategies in the normal schools and teachers’ colleges. It was during this same period that psychology separated from its philosophical origins and became more commonly known as an experimental science. The central thesis of my dissertation is that the self-definition of American psychology, as well as the resulting shape and character of the field, was profoundly dependent on the particular contexts of the academic institutions in which it developed.  Towards this end, I examined the history of psychology not only at major research universities, but also at women’s colleges, state colleges, and teacher’s colleges.

From 2006 to 2008, I was a lecturer in the Berkeley history department, teaching a range of undergraduate courses in the history of science.  Check back later for more detailed descriptions of the courses that I taught, along with a statement about my research background and interests!