I'll never forget the moment when my undergraduate work study supervisor handed me a book and said, "Here, read this. You will enjoy it after growing up in Philadelphia."
The book was Third and Indiana by Steve Lopez, and it came at an interesting time in my life. I was going to school at a large Philadelphia university and had just been denied admission to the Music School for the second time, so I was feeling pretty lost considering I trained as a classical flutist for most of my life. I had just enrolled in "An Intro to Psych" class. It was an honors class, which meant a small intimate class where we would discuss psychology greats and argue about perspectives on the mind. It was here I was also introduced to BF Skinner's books: Beyond Freedom and Dignity and Walden Two.
After reading Third and Indiana, which introduced me to a side of Philadelphia I knew existed but had not been exposed to (a side that has interestingly been shifted to other sections of the city as sections are gentrified and re-developed--ultimately just shifting the problem instead of addressing it), I wondered how we could help the larger problems of the city such as violence, drug addiction, and the struggle for 14 year olds who should be setting post high school goals versus learning business and social skills on the streets.
Enter BF Skinner. After reading Beyond Freedom and Dignity and Walden Two, and debating the possibility of a technology of behavior that could "save the world," and shape cultural development, I drank the Kool Aid. I was introduced to a professor at Temple who studied with a student of Skinner, and the rest is history.
Now, I focus on the mission of helping other organizations and people shape development through the principles outlined by BF Skinner. Though my work has taken me to shape development of ABA therapy programs and businesses, I recently began thinking on how we can go back to the idea of using the technology of behavior to "save the world." I am interested in cultural change as a whole, starting with my own city and the behaviors that occur on a daily basis.
The biggest question now remains is How? How do we do this? I'll explore this in the next few weeks so stay tuned!
Lopez, S. (1995). Third and Indiana. Penguin Books
Skinner, B. F. (1971). Beyond freedom and dignity. New York, NY, US: Knopf/Random House.
Skinner, B. F. (1948). Walden Two. Oxford, England: Macmillan