Teaching and Researching Sensitive Topics: The Joys and Sorrows of Being a Human Sexuality Professor

Dr. Andreas G. Philaretou
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The current investigation uses autoethnographic self-reflective accounts to explore the intricacies and challenges of teaching and researching human sexuality topics by an assistant professor in a major university in the United States.

Self-reflective accounts, derived from the author's personal documents, such as diary entries, personal recollections, and correspondence, constitute the primary data resource for the present study. The major premise behind the development of the proposed autoethnographic coding system involves the consistent and persistent searching of the data for patterns of significance. As the author/subject read and re-read his personal documents, certain words, phrases, patterns of behavior, ways of thinking, and events, related to his teaching, research, and collegial interactions in his department, repeated themselves and stood out. He then was able to group these highly identifiable topics of significance into autoethnographic-coding categories referred to as themes and by-themes.

The emerging themes and by-themes were then carefully recorded and analyzed to ensure validity and reliability. Some of them include: oppressive-liberal sexual ideological continuum, cultural differences, rigid hierarchical administrative structure, power abuse and imbalances, personal ostracism, formal sanctions, sexual harassment, and sexual humor.

Results indicate that amidst the liberal sexual ethics, politics, standards, and practices of today, teaching and researching human sexuality topics continues to pose considerable challenges, controversies, and even threats for beginner teachers and researchers of institutions of higher learning.

Keywords: Autoethnography, Human Sexuality, Power, Sexual Humor, Sexual Harassment, Sanctions, Ostracism
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Teaching and Researching Sensitive Topics

Dr. Andreas G. Philaretou

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
The School of Humanities & Social Sciences, Cyprus College


Andreas Philaretou, Ph.D., PMCMFT, CFLE, author and lecturer, is currently an associate professor in the Department of Psychology in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Cyprus College. He has received his BS and MS in Sociology, and his Ph.D. in Human Development from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). In addition, he earned a Post-Master’s Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy (PMCMFT) and has been Certified as a Family Life Educator (CFLE). Dr. Philaretou has taught various social psychology, psychology, and family studies courses throughout his academic career. His specific research and teaching interests revolve around the study of topics of general social psychological significance, with specific focus on gender and sexuality, male gender and psychosexual well being, sexualized work environments, atypical sexual variations, and international sex trafficking networks all examined within the historical, social, and cultural ecosystemic frameworks. Dr. Philaretou is the author of a recently published book titled: "The Perils of Masculinity: An Analysis of Male Sexual Anxiety, Sexual Addiction, and Relational Abuse," published by the University Press of America. His research appears in various journals, such as the Journal of Men’s Studies, the International Journal of Men’s Health, Sexuality and Culture, and Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention. He has also presented at numerous conferences, such as the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR), the American Men’s Studies Association (AMSA), the Hawaiian International Conference on Social Sciences, and the American Family Therapy Association-International Family Therapy Association (AFTA-IFTA). In addition, he is a member of NCFR, the American Association for Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS), the American Men’s Studies Association (AMSA), and the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH).

Ref: L05P0029