This website was once intended to be a hub for my academic work, but as things like that have shifted to easier spaces (see, for example, my Google Scholar page) it’s now mostly a brief introduction in case anyone is curious. Please feel free to contact me directly with any ideas for projects, program evaluation, writing, speaking or if I can help you access any of my work that might be of interest: my email is guesta at up.edu.
I’m currently a professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences with a courtesy appointment in sociology, and as of July 2020 am the first Core Curriculum Director for the University of Portland. My main interests include most anything related to social science and applied research, youth development, sports in society (especially soccer), and higher education.
I have a longstanding interest in in sub-Saharan Africa, having been a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi, undertaken dissertation research in Angola, taught study abroad in South Africa, and served as a Fulbright scholar in Tanzania. But I’m also very interested in using comparative lenses to address inequality in the US, having worked with youth programs in both Detroit and Chicago public housing communities and having undertaken research with high and low poverty schools in the Portland area. In past lives I also did lots of playing and coaching of soccer, including in college and for a few years in “professional” (really minor league semi-pro) leagues – hence the particular interests in sports generally and soccer specifically.
At UP I teach courses related to general psychology, developmental psychology, and sport in society, and served for six years as the first chairperson of the Department of Psychological Sciences. In my role as Core Curriculum Director I have the pleasure of getting to advocate for the liberal arts, and to think at an institutional level about ways of improving learning outcomes for students (in part through the applied social science research that is assessment!).
Here also are a few examples of my past work that might help someone know where I’m coming from:
Probably my favorite area for scholarship is with international sports and development programs (though it is sometimes hard to stay active in this area from a home base of Portland Oregon!). A while ago now I published an early effort to apply an ethnographic lens to SDP, and more recently I’ve published a few brief articles and chapters that offer what is intended to be constructive criticism. Sports is a great tool for engaging people, but it is trickier than it seems to use for international development.
I’ve also been deeply concerned with issues of educational inequality, and my small contribution to that world is to look at the role of extracurricular activities. My first publication in that area is still my most ever cited work, and I’ve also tried to bring a qualitative lens to research on extracurricular inequalities. When people think about addressing educational inequality they rarely think about the extracurriculum — but I think that is a mistake.
And then there is what I call the very social science of soccer (the working title I have for a book under contract with a university press)! As a couple examples here, I really enjoyed writing a scholarly essay about my experience at the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, and another experience writing up research about Portland Thorns fandom — the highest drawing women’s professional sports team in the world. Soccer, as the most global game and one of the most prominent shared cultural forms, offers immense insight into lives and communities around the world.
I have also occasionally tried to use my interests in social science and sports to write for a more general audience. An essay on the psychology of happiness for Oregon Humanities has had a surprisingly enduring popularity, I’ve made sporadic efforts at bringing social science to soccer blogging, and I have a Sports & Ideas micro-blog (and Twitter handle) that I sometimes use as a space for tentative efforts at public engagement.