About the Author

Trained as an historian (PhD, Harvard, 1982), I have been developing learning tools of one sort or another since 1976 when I faced the challenge of preparing for my general exams.

The first compilation of these tools was a crude pamphlet funded and published by Harvard College in 1982 for the benefit of instructors in Harvard’s new Core Curriculum program. The focus of the pamphlet was on how to improve the productivity of classroom conversations. The pamphlet is still available in the archives at Harvard’s Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning.

In the 1990s, while working at a large mutual fund company, I developed a training program for financial analysts and fund managers.

Two essays written in 2007 outlining and applying the basic tools of “The Thinking Citizen” are available on request. One, “Cracking the General Education Code: Notes from an Extended Sabbatical, 1984-2007”) applies the tools across a broad range of disciplines from physics and math to music and art and includes a short history of the genesis of these ideas. The other, “The Joy of World Citizenship: A Practical Guide to a Critical Discipline” applies the system to the task of global civic literacy. Both were widely circulated but never formally published.

In 2008-9, I was a fellow at the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School where I further developed the application of these ideas to the challenge of global civic literacy.

Since 2009, I have devoted much of my free time to an experiment based on these ideas called the Adams House What Matters Table, a discussion group for Harvard undergraduates living in Adams House. The group has met weekly on Tuesdays from 11:30am to 2:00pm for the last five years and went digital (in the form of Google Group) in 2011. Topics have ranged from science, literature, art, and music to economics, politics, and history. The discussions have enriched my life immeasurably and I can only hope that some of the students feel the same.

More autobiographical details are available on the Adams House website.