Our New Core Faculty Member,
Dr. Harriet Schwartz
As has been previously announced, Dr. Harriet Schwartz will join fulltime in July 2021 as Professor
of Relational Leadership and Higher Education. The Graduate School of Leadership and Change
(GSLC) learning community couldn’t be more excited. GSLC Provost Dr. Laurien Alexandre
and Harriet connected to explore her new role on the horizon this summer.
Dr. Laurien Alexandre (LA): Your relationship with the GSLC spans over 15 years. Much has happened over these years since you graduated. You have become a full professor, published extensively, and been a public voice for justice and equity. That said, what stands out most for you in terms of preparing to join the GSLC as Core Faculty in 2021.
Dr. Harriet Schwartz (HS): I love the GSLC and am so incredibly thrilled to be joining the faculty full-time! The professors I studied with when I was a PhD in Leadership and Change (PhDLC) doctoral student clearly shaped the professor I have become and I am excited to bring those influences, as they’ve developed through my own lenses and informed by my work since, back to the program. The PhDLC experience was life-changing for me and the opportunity to devote myself full-time to PhDLC students, colleagues, and the future of the program – this is exactly where I want to be.
LA: What do you find most appealing to you as a scholar-educator about the GSLC and most distinctive about the PhDLC program?
HS: Antioch students are deep thinkers who are committed to addressing big problems and I am so eager to support and guide that work full-time. Second, I think the faculty role is a teacher-mentor hybrid role and that is a sweet spot for me, meaning it’s the space in which I can best contribute. My primary focus as a scholar thus far has been teaching as a relational practice – this IS the PhDLC. In addition, I believe that Antioch University’s PhDLC (as structured by program and policies and as lived by faculty, administration, and students) comes closer to living its values than most universities – I appreciate this deeply and am eager to help the program continue to flourish.
LA: As you well know, we have designed the PhDLC program for cross-sector scholar-practitioners who are leading positive change with the skills and knowledge as responsible leaders and ethical researchers to improve the lives of those they serve. Can you identify the top skills/knowledge you bring that you feel could contribute most to this endeavor?
HS: My focus on relational practice, which emerges from Relational Cultural Theory (RCT), is relevant across sectors and in all levels of leadership. I also bring a strong social justice commitment, with particular focus on White identity and racism, and LGBTQ identities and social class – as social constructs that assign privilege and marginalization.
In addition, I am an enthusiastic qualitative researcher, with specific strengths in grounded theory and critical incident technique. I love teaching and mentoring students as they learn methods, develop their questions, and engage in the dissertation journey.
LA: What is your sense of Antioch’s cohort model?
HS: When I was in the search for this position and introduced myself at the interviews, I said, “I am a proud member of Cohort 5” and I went on to explain that my use of present tense was intentional. I think for many alums, the cohort affiliation continues after graduation. The cohort model is vital to the PhDLC – cohort colleagues learn from each other and help each other progress successfully through the program. Within cohorts, students form deep friendships and expand personal and professional networks. Put more simply, your cohort colleagues are your companions for the journey and that’s a gift. So, shout out to Cohort 5, my original PhDLC partners in learning!
LA: What leadership and/or change scholars or practitioners have most influenced your path in this field?
HS: RCT founding scholars Jean Baker Miller, Judith V. Jordan, Irene Stiver, and Janet Surrey created RCT, a human development theory – they weren’t leadership scholars per se, but their work and journey inspires me. They proposed a feminist idea of human development in a time when the clinical professions and related academic and professional communities and power structures were heavily male dominated. Dr. Miller and Dr. Jordan and the others, faced significant resistance and backlash as they took this work out into the world and so they were/are true leaders and architects of change. There are so many things I could say about these powerful women, but for now I’ll just say that the vision they offer for power-with rather than power-over and their confrontation of the Western myth of individual achievement – these ideas, are fundamental in my work and so important vis-à-vis the pressing challenges of our time.
Harriet Schwartz's Publications & Other Recent Work
Schwartz, H.L. (2021, January 25).
Exploring Relational Cultural Theory:
In Conversation with Dr. Judith, V. Jordan episode 1, early history [Video].
Schwartz, H. L. (2019).
“When I Said ‘White,’ I Meant
‘White:’ Why White Pittsburghers Should Care about Racism and
What To Do about It.”
Schwartz, H. L. (2019).
Connected Teaching: Relationship, Power, and Mattering in Higher Education. Stylus.
Schwartz, H. L., and
Snyder-Duch, J. (2018).
Teaching and Emotion:
New Directions for Teaching
and Learning. Jossey-Bass.
Schwartz, H. L. (2017, September).
“Sometimes It’s about More than the Paper: Assessment as Relational Practice.” Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, volume 28, 5–28.
LA: And, would you be willing to share what you’re reading right now – what’s sitting on your bookstand or Kindle?
HS: Sure! I’m reading Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own (Crown, June 30, 2020) by Dr. Eddie S. Glaude Jr., We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom (Beacon Press, 2019) by Dr. Bettina L. Love, and for fun, The Girl in The Back: A Female Drummer’s Life with Bowie, Blondie, and the ‘70s Rock Scene (Backbeat, 2018) by Laura Davis-Chanin. I have some other books on race and social justice leadership in slow progress, but those three are my focus right now.
LA: I can’t imagine a stranger time in higher education and in the country in general. Between the pandemic, the political polarization, the rages of social, economic and racial inequities, and so much more. I know you speak out often about many of these issues. What do you see as the role of being a “steward of society” and how does that translate into your teaching, research, and practice?
HS: I think it begins with the learning spaces that we, as educators, seek to create. My hope is that any learning space I’m involved with provides challenge and is also a space that students trust and that perhaps can even provide some respite from the pervasive stress in the larger world. My fantasy is that for adult students, school (even though it’s a lot of work!) provides a space where they can focus on their own growth and development and get even a brief break from daily stresses and responsibilities.
From there, I see my work as supporting student learning –an interdisciplinary leadership program is an ideal space to teach and support students who are changing and will change the world. And then I also continue with my work as a researcher and public scholar. As I said earlier, my research thus far has focused on relational practice – at the moment I feel like my book Connected Teaching: Relationship, Power, and Mattering in Higher Education (Stylus Publishing, 2019) was an important culmination of that work and I’ll continue to get that work out there with speaking and writing. However as for new research and writing, I now feel most compelled by social justice questions.
LA: If we were doing this interview a few years from now (and I hope we do!), and I asked you to look back on your time in the program, what would you have liked to have learned? Done? In what ways would you like to have seen yourself grow?
HS: Well, starting a full-time position in the PhDLC is interesting for me. In some ways, I think it will feel like coming home. At the same time, the program has changed a lot since I was a student and in recent years I’ve seen it from an affiliate faculty perspective – all is to say I’ll have a lot to learn about the program as it is now and in terms of being full-time faculty. I look forward to collaborating with faculty colleagues both in teaching and ideally I’d love to co-write. And of course I look forward to learning from students – given their questions and passions and disciplinary knowledge.
LA: I was struck by the excitement you bring to looking forward, learning new things, making the most of every year ahead. I wonder how you’ve been able to hold that focus forward during this most difficult time in our lives. Where do you find strength and hope?
HS: To build on the work of Carol Kasworm – teaching is an act of hope. She actually talks about learning as an act of hope, particularly for adult students. I agree and also believe that teaching is as well. So, the very work of teaching – designing learning experiences, engaging with students on content and process, advising, and mentoring – this work brings me hope and emerges, for me, from a place of hope.
Second, staying connected with loved ones and friends helps as does connecting with the natural world – Pittsburgh has some terrific wooded city parks and there are good hiking trails in the region. I also try to stay in touch with gratitude.
Of course, I have days where I am angry, frustrated, sad, and so on about the generations’-long presence and current emboldened nature of white supremacy, the pandemic (and mishandling of it), and more. But I also try to engage in the things I listed above that keep me going, as well as listening to music and photography – all which keep me grounded and give me breaks from the intensity of everything else.
LA: Would you please share something about yourself that you would like our community to know that they wouldn’t learn from your CV?
HS: I don’t know about anything else that is important for people to know, but in terms of getting to know each other… as I mentioned above, I love photography. I started taking photos as a kid and several cameras later I’m still at it. A few years ago, I bought a macro lens – and I’m really taken with macro or close-up photography. Macro requires a lot of concentration and attention to the details of the work – so it is a very good source of “getting away” for me, even during the pandemic. I believe that good macro photography requires presence and immersion and in that way, it’s a little bit like teaching.
Harriet’s scholarly interests include teaching as relational practice, emotion and teaching, and qualitative research methods. She is the author of Connected Teaching: Relationship, Power, and Mattering in Higher Education (Stylus, 2019) and has published two New Directions for Teaching and Learning sourcebooks, co-editing Teaching and Emotion and editing Interpersonal Boundaries in Teaching and Learning. She also writes in the public domain, addressing social justice issues including racism, sexism, and homophobia.
Harriet hold a MS in Counseling and a certificate in student personnel from Springfield College. She has her PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. Harriet was full professor at Carlow University prior to joining the faculty of the PhD program. And, prior to pursuing her faculty career, she worked in student affairs at Carnegie Mellon University, Bard College, and University of Hartford.