By Hope Chookazian
When Rebecca Peretz-Lange was job hunting for a position to teach psychology in higher education, she had many options. But Purchase was her first choice.
“Coming to work at Purchase was full circle for me,” she said. “Wesleyan was an artsy school and we would say ‘Keep Wes Weird,’ so when I saw SUNY Purchase’s ‘Think Wide Open,’ I knew this is where I wanted to be.”
Professor Rebecca Peretz-Lange is a new psychology professor. She is teaching an online portion of Research Methods I for the Fall 2021 semester.
Peretz-Lange earned her BA at Wesleyan University in 2013 and her MS and Ph.D. at Tufts University in 2020. She initially went into college not knowing what path she would take. She majored in philosophy, but after taking a research methods class, she realized the forward progress that could be made by going beyond theorizing in philosophy. She ended up graduating with a degree in both philosophy and psychology.
After graduating from Wesleyan, she worked as a research assistant for Facing History and Ourselves, a non-profit in Brookline, Massachusetts. This non-profit uses lessons of history to provide students and teachers the resources to stand up to bigotry and hate.
She has also held post-doctoral positions at Boston University and Harvard.
This is her first year out of the researcher role and working as a professor.
Peretz-Lange was highly impressed by the psychology department and faculty.
“I felt like there were a lot of connections and I would get to keep learning through my colleagues,” she said. “They also spoke so glowingly about the students, especially about how quirky, cool, and motivated they all are. I wanted to teach students I really liked and it seemed like a really cool place.”
She looks forward to starting a new class in the Spring 2022 semester about the origins of prejudice.
“That’s my own baby of a class,” she said. “I’ve been super fortunate that Purchase allowed me the opportunity to teach what I want.”
While Peretz-Lange’s first-semester teaching might be virtual, she tries to make students as comfortable as possible.
“I’ve tried to make the class as interactive as possible without forcing anyone to turn their cameras on,” she said. “We have polls we use for analysis and at the beginning of the semester, there was a question asking students if they are introverts or extroverts. There were a lot of introverts, so I tried my best to respect that.”
Keeping student comfort in mind, Peretz-Lange offered some advice to students struggling with Zoom fatigue.
“Be kind to yourself!” she said. “Let your faculty know what you need!”