Contributors to Learning

108-1021Rene Arcilla. New York University. He is an Associate Professor of Educational Philosophy in the Steinhardt School of Education. His primary areas of interest are philosophy of education, liberal learning, existentialism, and modernism.

Current Research: I have been working on a philosophical theory of liberal learning, one that distinguishes this learning from instrumental forms of learning and roots it in a vision of our human condition and of what is good for that condition.

Selected Works: “Why Aren’t Philosophers and Educators Speaking to Each Other?” Educational Theory, 2002; For the Love of Perfection: Richard Rorty and Liberal Education, New York: Routledge, 1995; “For the Stranger in My Home: Self-Knowledge, Cultural Re



5330_146059155742_588050742_3961190_2854753_nScott Conti. New Design High School. He is the founding principal of New Design High School (NDHS).  The school, located in the Lower East Side of New York City, uses the concept of design to assist in meeting the holistic needs of adolescents, including the academic, intellectual, social, emotional and artistic sides of students.  He was born in the East Bay of Northern California.  A graduate of St. Mary’s College of California, Conti decided to pursue a career in teaching high school social studies teaching at Mount Diablo High School in Concord, California.  He left the classroom to enter the Curriculum and Teaching doctoral program at Teachers College Columbia University.  Upon graduation, Conti was approached by the New York City Department of Education to develop a small public school in the Seward Park Campus.  Conti is entering his ninth year as a principal and has been constantly humbled at the process of developing a great urban school with an eye of educational innovation.  This will be his third year teaching the Mediastorm class which he developed.  He is currently working on his first book entitled, “Vigor:  A New Design to Education.”  He lives in Brooklyn, is married to a tall Dutch girl, an avid soccer player, always on his bike, loves his work and still slowly working toward enlightenment.


Jacqueline Gottlieb. Columbia University.  She investigates the neurophysiological mechanisms by which the posterior parietal cortex controls spatial attention. Attention – the ability to concentrate – is critically important for normal perception and behavior. Although the posterior parietal lobe (an area located on the dorsal aspect of each cortical hemisphere) has been known for over a century to be important for directing attention in humans, relatively little is known about the neurophysiological mechanisms that underlie this function in the monkey. Her laboratory uses psychophysical and neurophysiological techniques to elucidate the parietal mechanisms of attention in trained rhesus monkeys. Her laboratory’s goals are three-fold: to devise psychophysical tasks appropriate for measuring attention in the monkey, to establish correlations between attention and the activity of parietal neurons (both at the single-neuron and at the population levels), and to establish whether parietal activity is causally related to attentional orienting by measuring the effects of experimental manipulations of parietal activity on attention. Currently experiments focus on a subdivision of posterior parietal cortex, the lateral intraparietal area (LIP), which has been implicated in attentional orienting and rapid eye movements (saccades). In the future, these experiments will most likely be extended to other parietal and temporal areas implicated in attention. The experiments are crucial for understanding of the normal mechanisms of attention as well as for establishing an animal model of spatial neglect a severe attentional deficit which, in humans, is associated with damage to the parietal lobe.

163699_102219263187966_7622310_nShauna Fitzmahan. Dwight School.  She grew up on a rural island near Seattle, Washington. She moved with her family to Lutsk, Ukraine when she was sixteen, and there she developed a love for world travel. After living in Wales, Switzerland and in a small lakeside village in Mozambique, she returned to the United States where she completed a BA in History with Honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She then returned to Europe for three years to teach IB History and TOK at the International School of Estonia. She also worked as a CAS Coordinator and IB assistant examiner for TOK and History. After three years in Estonia, Shauna moved to Kyoto, Japan where she continued to teach social studies. She recently moved to New York City where she completed her MA at Teachers College, Columbia University. In her spare time, Shauna enjoys biking, gardening, and hiking.


Siegelbaum-345X239Steven Siegelbaum. Columbia University. He uses electrophysiological recordings from brain slices, two-photon light microscopic imaging, and molecular/genetic approaches to study the mechanisms by which neuronal dendrites actively process synaptic signals to regulate information flow through neuronal circuits. One area of interest concerns the role of the HCN1 hyperpolarization-activated cation channels in regulating dendritic integration in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. Surprisingly, HCN1 knockout mice show an enhancement in hippocampal-dependent spatial learning and memory. This is associated with an enhancement of dendritic integration and in long-term potentiation of those excitatory inputs targeted to the distal tips of the dendrites, the site of greatest HCN1 expression. Now his lab is examining how these distal synapses contribute to learning and memory. Siegelbaum has found that these inputs may act as training signals, inducing a novel form of synaptic plasticity at synapses that terminate on more proximal regions of the dendritic tree. He is exploring the molecular basis of this form of plasticity and designing experiments to assess its role in learning and memory.

In other experiments, Siegelbaum examines the molecular mechanisms that regulate the trafficking of HCN1 channels to the membrane and target the channels to their proper dendritic localization. Studies from other groups have suggested that HCN1 channel expression can be upregulated or downregulated by different patterns of neural activity, and that such changes may contribute to the development of epilepsy following an initial seizure. His lab has previously identified a brain-specific protein, TRIP8b, that binds to the C-terminus of HCN1 and regulates its trafficking. Recent experiments show that there are at least 10 splice isoforms of TRIP8b that differentially regulate HCN1 expression. His lab is now examining the role of TRIP8b isoforms as regulators of neuronal activity and learning and memory.


Cally Waite.cw186Teachers College at Columbia University. She is Associate Professor of History and Education in Teachers College’s Department of Arts & Humanities, where she coordinates the History and Education Program. Waite is an authority on the transformation of higher education in the late 19th century and has written extensively about the history of African Americans in U.S. higher education. In her book Permission to Remain Among Us: Education for Blacks in Oberlin, Ohio, 1880-1914, Waite details the history of a community that demonstrated a rare commitment to the education of blacks during the antebellum period, only  to turn toward segregation as Reconstruction drew to a close — a progression, she argues, that prefigured events nationwide.

Waite also serves as program director of the SSRC-Mellon Mays Fellowship Program — part of the Social Science Research Council, an independent, international nonprofit that nurtures new generations of social scientists, fosters innovative research, and mobilizes necessary knowledge on important public issues.

Waite’s current book project, The Journey Thus Far: Black Southern Scholars and Northern Institutions, 1896-1954 (with Margaret Smith Crocco, formerly of TC’s Social Studies Education Program), considers the experiences and challenges of southern black scholars who earned their doctoral degrees at northern research universities during legalized segregation in the United States.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

A show that explores the bigger questions.