Robert J. Sternberg is Professor of Psychology in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University and Honorary Professor of Psychology at Heidelberg University, Germany. Previously, Sternberg served 8 ½ years in academic administration as a university dean, senior vice-president, and president. Before that, he was IBM Professor of Psychology and Education and Professor of Management at Yale and Director of the Yale Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise.
Sternberg is a Past President of the American Psychological Association, the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, the Eastern Psychological Association, and the International Association for Cognitive Education and Psychology. Sternberg also has been president of four divisions of the American Psychological Association and Treasurer of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
Sternberg’s BA is from Yale University summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, his PhD is from Stanford University, and he holds 13 honorary doctorates. Sternberg has won more than two dozen awards for his work, including the James McKeen Cattell Award (1999) and the William James Fellow Award (2017) from APS. He has won the E. Paul Torrance Award from the National Association for Gifted Children, 2006, and the Distinguished Scholar Award, also from the National Association for Gifted Children, 1985. He also is the winner of the Grawemeyer Award in Psychology (2018). He is the author of over 1800 publications.
He was cited in an APA Monitor on Psychology report as one of the top 100 psychologists of the 20th century and in a report in Archives of Scientific Psychology by Diener and colleagues as one of the top 200 psychologists of the modern era. He was cited by Griggs and Christopher in Teaching of Psychology as one of the top-cited scholars in introductory-psychology textbooks. According to Google Scholar, he has been cited over 213,000 times; he has an h index of 223. He has authored textbooks in introductory psychology, cognitive psychology, and in communication in psychology. Sternberg is a member of the US National Academy of Education and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Transformational Giftedness, and Why Our Conventional Definition of Giftedness Has Become a Disservice to Humanity
Giftedness as it is usually conceived of is a transactional personal characteristic. Certain young people are identified as "gifted." In exchange for this identification, they are expected to perform well in school and, later, in their jobs, and to excel in other culturally prescribed criteria. In exchange, they receive special benefits, such as faster tracks in school, often better teachers, superior college and university admissions, better jobs, and more income. The problem with this transaction between the individual and the school is that it takes into account the egocentric needs of the individual but not, sufficiently, the common good of the world. Too many gifted youths are making a Faustian bargain, receiving benefits in exchange for jobs such as finding ways of addicting children to social media, creating more and more powerful munitions for aggressive and right, now, unforgivable wars, and generating the industrial output that will increase global climate change. I suggest in the talk that we pay more attention to the identification and especially the development of transformational giftedness, which is giftedness directed toward creating a better world--toward making a positive, meaningful, and enduring difference to the world as a whole. The world no longer can afford to develop giftedness that benefits only individuals and not the collective good of humankind and the diverse species that populate the Earth. And it certainly cannot afford to develop the kind of pseudo-transformational, toxic giftedness that so many leaders show in the world today. These toxic leaders pretend to benefit their followers, when in fact they only care about the accrual of power and resources to themselves.