Pete Schmidt came to Barrett, the Honors College after teaching courses as a tenured instructor in the humanities at Grossmont College in San Diego for nine years. While at Grossmont, he led numerous faculty seminars in active learning; enthusiastically engaged in campus-wide cross-disciplinary programs; and was awarded an Excellence in Teaching Award.
His academic and pedagogical activities reflect his wide-ranging interests in the interaction of culture and the material world. While completing his master's degree, he pursued course work in science and religion, popular culture, and American history. His master's thesis explored American hopes and fears about atomic science through a survey of American comic book super heroes. His doctoral course work continued this examination of the boundaries between popular culture and professional science. Through archival research at the Huntington Library, interviews with hard science fiction authors, and close reading of selected science fiction literature, his doctoral dissertation examined how professional science and science fiction interacted and informed each other on the topic of terraforming. One aspect of his work was recently published in ZETEO; The Journal of Interdisciplinary Writing. He has continued this interdisciplinary line of interrogation via professional talks that have included analysis of popular reactions to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and examinations of biological art and genetic science. His current research examines the creation and perpetuation of the cult of Nikola Tesla and its relation to attitudes towards science and technology. He maintains an abiding interest in how visual artifacts and literature reflect cultural values, ideals, and beliefs, especially pertaining to science and technology.