Lois Holzman is an activist-scholar trained in community organizing and developmental psychology. Introduced to Vygotsky and CHAT at Michael Cole’s Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition as part of the team working to expose psychology’s ecological invalidity, she has continued to develop that critique and a new cultural psychology for the past 40 years. In the 1980s, along with philosopher and activist Fred Newman, she founded the East Side Institute, a training and research center for the study and development of a Vygotskian-influenced therapy, social therapy. Over the next two decades, social therapy expanded into a methodology for reinitiating human-community development through activating people’s capacity to play, perform, philosophize and, in that process, create new ways to be and see and relate. Today the Institute is an international education and research center in the transdisciplinary practice of relating to people of all ages and life circumstances as social performers and creators of their lives. From its headquarters in New York City, the Institute has trained hundreds of scholars and activists; psychologists, counselors, social workers and therapists; educators and youth workers; doctors and nurses; social justice artists and activists; and community organizers from across the globe.
Lois has broadened Vygotsky’s methodological insights to areas beyond learning and schooling, and to people beyond the halls of academia. Her scholarship is political-philosophical, community-located and international in scope, and includes studies of psychotherapy, alternative schools, performance-based outside of school programs, organizational studies and social entrepreneurship. Lois brings CHAT to postmodernists, Marxists, humanists, social constructionists, and critical psychologists. She is most proud of introducing a performatory approach to human development and social change to hundreds of grass-roots practitioners and supporting their home-grown initiatives to develop people and their communities in order to engage poverty, violence, conflict, underdevelopment and environmental destruction.
Lois is the author of the books “Vygotsky at Work and Play”, “Schools for Growth: Radical Alternatives to Current Educational Models”, “Lev Vygotsky: Revolutionary Scientist” (with Fred Newman), and many other books and articles (some of which appear in “Big Ideas and Revolutionary Activity”). Her latest book is “The Overweight Brain: How our obsession with knowing keeps us from getting smart enough to make a better world”. She contributes to blogs at loisholzman.org, “Psychology Today” and “Mad in America”.
Lois received her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Columbia University. She is past program chair and chair of the Cultural-Historical Research SIG of AERA and received its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. She is currently Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Vygotskian Practice and Performance at the Lloyd International Honors College, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.