About Sarah

Sarah Rose Cavanagh is a psychologist, professor, and Senior Associate Director for Teaching and Learning at Simmons University, where she teaches classes on affective science and mental health, researches the intersections of emotion, motivation, and learning, and provides educational development for faculty. Sarah gives keynote addresses and workshops at a variety of colleges and national and international conferences, blogs for Psychology Today, and writes essays for venues like LitHub and The Chronicle of Higher Education. In her free time she enjoys devouring fiction, spending time by the sea with her canine and human daughters, and cooking up pescatarian meals for good friends.


Psychologist, Educational Developer

At Simmons University in the heart of Boston, Sarah researches emotion and learning, leads educational development opportunities in the Center for Faculty Excellence, and teaches in the Psychology department.


Sarah is author of two well-received books on psychology and education and numerous essays for venues like The Chronicle of Higher Education and Literary Hub. An additional two books will hit the shelves in 2022.


Sarah speaks at conferences, workshops, and in-service trainings about emotions, teaching, and team dynamics.




A collective consciousness in which we share consensus thoughts, emotions, and opinions; a phenomenon whereby a group of people function as if with a single mind.

In this provocative book, Sarah Rose Cavanagh provides an overview of contemporary social neuroscience, a consideration of the degree to which the advent of smartphones and social media has amplified both the promises and perils of our hypersociality, and an appeal to attend to the collective aspects of our well-being. Leading a narrative journey from the site of the Charlottesville riots to the boardrooms of Facebook, considering such diverse topics as zombies, cults, and honeybees, Cavanagh leaves no stone unturned in her quest to understand our contemporary challenges.


Written for educators, Spark of Learning argues that thinking strategically about emotion in the classroom can enliven the classroom experience for teachers and students alike.

Historically we have constructed our classrooms with the assumption that learning is a dry, staid affair best conducted in quiet tones and ruled by an unemotional consideration of the facts. In friendly, readable prose, Sarah Rose Cavanagh argues that if you as an educator want to capture your students’ attention, harness their working memory, bolster their long-term retention, and enhance their motivation, you should consider the emotional impact of your teaching style and course design.

“[Cavanagh] masterfully bridges the world between research and popular narrative nonfiction in her fascinating, beautifully written book.”

—John Warner, Chicago Tribune

Featured Essays

A Low-touch Approach to High-touch Online Teaching
The Campus | READ ESSAY

How Ghost Stories Spread in the Era of Social Media

How to Make Your Teaching More Engaging
Chronicle of Higher Education | READ ESSAY

The Confounding Relationship Between Smart Phones and Mental Health
Inside Higher Ed | READ ESSAY

“Sarah provided the keynote and follow-up workshop for our annual conference. The feedback was phenomenal. Sarah is an engaging presenter with an abundance of valuable, research-based information.”

—Dr. Lisa J. Lucas, West Chester University of PA

Speaking Availability

Sarah is available to speak and lead workshops on the following topics. Education audiences are usually solo and business/industry audiences are often co-led with product innovator Julie Sargent

Energizing Learning with the Science of Emotion

Four Pillars of Emotional Engagement

Honey Bees, Social Neuroscience, & Team Dynamics

Lessons for Building Community

Crafting Learning Environments of Compassionate Challenge

Supporting youth mental health

Be the Spark

Performance, Presence, and Leadership
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Imagine if we didn't have cats and you could only see them in zoos. We'd go and be like "OMG there were these micropanthers in all different colors and they're beautiful and why can't I have one😭" But we DO get to have them and it's amazing! That's what I'm thankful for today.

Oh gosh @CadwellTurnbull thanks for the follow!

Tweeps this book is eating my whole brain right now in the best way. https://www.blackstonepublishing.com/no-gods-no-monsters-cw38.html

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