Psychology and Child Development

College of Liberal Arts

Reflections from Ned Schultz

Dr. Ned Schultz has taught psychology at Cal Poly for more than 30 years and just recently reduced his teaching load as part of the Faculty Early Retirement Program (FERP). Here’s what this seasoned faculty member had to say when asked a few questions.

What is your favorite thing about Cal Poly?

I love walking around campus and feeling the vitality — the potential for healthy growth — that comes from the mix of young people, talented staff and faculty, and the natural environment we enjoy.

What is/has been your favorite class to teach and why?

Self and Identity. It is a central challenge of being alive to gain greater self understanding and to appreciate the complex ways one is connected to the social and natural world.

Are there any scholars or individuals that have inspired you?

I always recommend Rollo May’s books for their fine humanistic insights. In my formative years, Kurt Vonnegut’s novels and songs/lyrics of the Beatles and Jackson Browne had a huge impact on me.

What has kept you enthused about your teaching career? What advice would you give a new faculty member or someone considering going into teaching?

I think curiosity about human behavior has sustained my teaching. When you are curious, you discover fascinating things, which leads to an eagerness to share them. The joy of teaching lies in finding the topics you love and inviting others into your exploration of them.

What do you think will change in the field of psychology in the next five or 10 years?

Our field will likely become more integrated with behavioral genetics, biochemistry and human-technology interaction. If I were starting over as an undergrad, I would still study developmental psychology to gain an awareness of age and stage differences in behavior. Then I would focus on health/wellness applications and/or human use of technology. A psychology major with a minor in health technology would be nice.

What is one thing you wish your students knew about you?

I wish I had the courage to lay out a timeline of my life with the mistakes I made and lessons I learned. Alternatively, I wish they could see my face when I look at my wife, kids or grandchildren.

Besides work, what are your passions?

This is my problem — I’m fascinated by too many things. I love guitars, abstract art, many forms of music, walking in the woods or along the ocean, archeology, astronomy, birds, old boats, science fiction, serious films, pizza … way too much. I spend most of my free time writing fiction, researching family genealogy, and having little adventures with my wife.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could bring one personal item, what would it be?

I have just the right temperament for being stranded on a desert island. I’d bring a piano and try to go beyond the chords I know. I’d imitate Philip Glass — maybe sing some blues.

What’s the best advice you didn’t take?

I went straight to graduate school and finished my doctorate at 25. I regret that I didn’t follow advice to travel, grow up, and discover more about my whole self before settling into a career.

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