Skip to main content

Illuminating Humanities: Allegra Midgette

Dr. Allegra Midgette, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Texas A&M

The Glasscock Center is excited to continue this series that highlights humanities research at Texas A&M, as well as the vital role played by the humanities beyond the academy.

For this highlight, we invite Dr. Allegra Midgette to tell us about her experience as an Accountability, Climate, Equity, and Scholarship (ACES) Fellow and as a co-convenor of a Working Group supported by the Glasscock Center. 

Dr. Allegra Midgette is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. In one of  her most recent publications, a co-authored article titled “US and Chinese preschoolers normalize household labor inequality” (published in PNAS – the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), finds that children are learning about gender norms and household labor divisions through observing their own households. Dr. Midgette’s research employs a global lens to think about care as an educational goal, both within home spaces but also in other social contexts like schools. “I’m really interested in breaking down care labor, investigating the cognitive, the emotional, the and physical elements of care,” she says. 

Dr. Midgette received an Accountability, Climate, Equity, and Scholarship (ACES) Faculty Fellowship and was affiliated with the Glasscock Center (2021-2022). The ACES Program provides two-year fellowships for early career PhDs, including mentorship and community building. The Glasscock Center’s interdisciplinary focus was instrumental in developing and shaping Dr. Midgette’s ideas on care work. As part of her fellowship, Dr. Midgette presented  “Learning How to Care: Taking a Psychological Approach” at a colloquium hosted by the Glasscock Center.

“The Glasscock [Center] gave me a focus and a community to be able to get the work started,” Dr. Midgette says. “I got a lot of invaluable feedback from people from different fields that encouraged me to think further about the work.”

Additionally, Dr. Midgette co-convenes the Care Studies Working Group, a Glasscock Center Research Working Group that examines care and care labor as both practices and ideologies. On May 16th, 2024, they will host a virtual conference called “Re-Envisioning Care for a more Just and Inclusive Society” with speakers prominent in the field, including Dr. Joan C. Tronto, Professor Emerita of Political Science at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, and Dr. Allison Daminger, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Harvard University. 

“I think the working group has been really great, both in creating community here at Texas A&M and bringing people from different fields together,” Dr. Midgette says. “Being able to have [interdisciplinary] conversations is the way forward for science.”

Dr. Midgette’s research focuses on breaking down the concept of care in order to better understand how individuals learn to care and do care work. She challenges societal framing of care as just an “output,” which means seeing care only as something individuals do or don’t do, because it misses the complex developmental and educational processes involved in how individuals learn to care about and care for others. Dr. Midgette believes that understanding how we learn about care has important implications for the public because care work is central to and essential for all societies. 

“Everyone eventually has to be cared for, even if they personally don’t care for other people,” Dr. Midgette says. “I think sometimes we culturally think a lot about independence but we’re actually very dependent individuals.” 

Focusing on the process of learning to care, Dr. Midgette seeks to develop strategies for cultivating a more caring society, which she believes starts with children. She frames care as an educational process that can be targeted in educational systems. Dr. Midgette says that “The implication for the public is to not think about children just as recipients of care or in need of care, but also as learning about care while they receive care.”

Dr. Midgette’s future goals for her research include creating spaces for scholars involved in care research to develop strategies for a creative, caring society as well as developing curricula to implement in early education settings across the globe. In accordance with this goal, Dr. Midgette and collaborators concluded data collection last year which interviewed children and caregivers across Brazil, Finland, Taiwan, and the United States about how they conceptualize and learn about care. 

Additionally, Dr. Midgette is currently working with a group of researchers and the Children’s Museum Houston to create exhibits that support families in their quest to raise their children as citizens of a more caring society.

“What I find most rewarding is the opportunity to influence and be influenced by people from around the world,” Dr. Midgette says. “I love collaborating with people, I love learning from people and talking to people, and hopefully taking steps towards encouraging us all to be more critical and more caring citizens; and I think that’s something that is invaluable.”