Nelson Bingham
Professor of Psychology

Nelson Bingham is a developmental psychologist with a special interest in infancy and young adulthood. He teaches courses on human development, cross-cultural psychology, diversity and persons & systems. Committed to interdisciplinary teaching, he is a member and past-president of the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies. Nelson has done research in Japan on early day care programs, human services systems and juvenile delinquency, on young adult development among Earlham students, and on the influence of family history on personal identity. He has also presented a paper on diversity at an international conference in Belfast.

He is the longest-serving member of the Earlham faculty and has been involved in interdisciplinary programs in Human Development and Social Relations and Japanese Studies. He has been Earlham's Provost since 2006 but will return to full-time teaching in the Fall of 2014. He has a special interest in diversity and in Earlham's Newlin Quaker Center, also being a member of the advisory board for the Equestrian Program. He is a Quaker and is active in the Friends Association for Higher Education. Nelson especially values Earlham's Quaker identity, particularly the principles of simplicity, peacefulness, integrity, community, equality and respect.

Contact Info

Campus Mail
Drawer 191



Landrum Bolling Center

Office Hours
by appointment


  • Human Development and Social Relations
  • Japanese Studies
  • Psychology
  • East Asian Studies


  • Ph.D., Cornell University
  • B.A., Johns Hopkins University

Earlham students are the biggest reason that I've spent my entire 40-year career at Earlham. They are idealistic about creating a life that embodies their values and about helping to make a better world for all. They are passionate about their learning, committed to collaborative inquiry, capable of making integrative connections between academics and life experiences. They are enthusiastic about building relationships in community and dedicated to the Quaker values that make Earlham a special place. They are fun-loving, caring, and welcome friendship with someone who could have (and often did) taught their parents a generation ago.

My major research interest is in multi-generational developmental psychology, which involves studying how a person's family history, going back multiple generations, influences her/his identity and personal development. A few years ago, I engaged in a Ford-Knight research project with a group of students on this topic. We gathered and reviewed scholarly work, both theoretical and empirical, on this subject. Then, we used that knowledge to craft a process of psychological autobiography that could be used by individual subjects to provide qualitative data that can be integrated into a growing database. The students each constructed their own psychological autobiography as a means of testing and refining that process. In doing that, the students gained a great deal of personal understanding and were able to apply psychological theories to that understanding.

One of the best and most enjoyable courses I have taught was during the 1989 SICE Program in Japan. My wife and I led that program with 14 students. It was a delight to teach those students about Japan through the lens of cross-cultural psychology and to engage with them in the process of putting together the complex, multi-dimensional "jigsaw puzzle" that is an understanding of another culture. The students lived with host families, were teaching assistants in junior high English classes, and experienced many aspects of Japanese culture, ranging from the geological context to Shinto traditions to contemporary renditions of koto music. Throughout those months, my role included being a guide and interpreter as they both deepened their understanding of Japanese culture and gained a new perspective on their own society. We held classes twice a week and they shared their experiences through a journal to which I responded. We did field trips and participated in group events such as festivals, Noh and Kabuki performances, climbing a mountain and much more. Their learning was holistic and represented the best ideals of liberal education. One of the most satisfying aspects of that course is the fact that it represented only the beginning of a life-long friendship with and among those students. My wife and I have kept in touch with nearly all of them, attending their weddings, watching them pursue a wide variety of careers, seeing their children growing up, and visiting with them.

I enjoy watching sports, especially football, basketball and baseball. At Earlham, I have been the game announcer for home football games for the past 32 years. My wife and I enjoy jogging on local rails-to-trails paths with our Irish Wolfhound, CoNia. We also have three horses that we use for trail riding. We enjoy eating out with family or friends. I am involved with the local community, previously serving on the Richmond Board of Education and currently being President of a credit union. My wife and I are members of West Richmond Friends Meeting. We have enjoyed travel, particularly in Japan and Ireland.

My most important interest is my family. We have two children and three grandchildren. Our oldest grandchild is a student at Earlham and I enjoy spending time with him at athletic events and other activities. I jog regularly and like to work outside in my yard. I am actively pursuing the genealogy of our families. I love to read popular novels and to watch movies. I collect jokes and study the psychology of humor.

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