UCL News


Spotlight on Dr Leslie Gutman

22 June 2017

This week the spotlight is on Dr Leslie Gutman, Senior Lecturer and Programme Director of the MSc in Behaviour Change, UCL Psychology and Language Sciences.

Leslie Gutman

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am Programme Director of the MSc in Behaviour Change and Senior Lecturer within UCL's cross-disciplinary Centre for Behaviour Change. The MSc's Co-Director is Professor Susan Michie, Director of the Centre for Behaviour Change. The MSc is a multi-disciplinary programme focusing on behaviour change evidence, theories, research and application. I have overall responsibility for the content, structure and delivery of the MSc, supported by a faculty of five leading researchers in behaviour change.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I have been in this position since February 2017. Previously, I was Interim Director of Evidence at the Early Intervention Foundation, an independent charity and What Works Centre. Before this, I was Research Director at the UCL Institute of Education.  

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

I am proud to be the Programme Director of the MSc, as it is, to our knowledge, one of the first cross-disciplinary programmes on behaviour change in the world. The MSc launches this September with our first cohort of students. The interest has been overwhelming!

Our accepted students are diverse, both in terms of academic discipline and occupational experience, and all share a passion for understanding and applying behaviour change. We have designed a programme that is academically challenging, engaging and enjoyable. I am looking forward to meeting our students at induction and experiencing the year ahead.  

Tell us about a project you are working on now that is top of your to-do list.

We are finalising our modules and list of projects for the MSc research-based dissertations. We are looking for UCL academic faculties who have a behaviour change project and would be interested in supervising one or two of our students. If you are interested in supervision or collaboration on a project related to behaviour change, please contact me: l.gutman@ucl.ac.uk

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

I don't have any particular favourites but these were significant to me at pivotal transition points in my adult life. Snow Patrol - Eyes Open, great for long runs; Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey, shows the importance of having/being someone like Sam; and the Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, a haunting portrayal of racism and poverty in America.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

My favourite jokes are those invented by my children, which are probably funny only to me. For example, here is today's joke from my six-year-old: "Why did the elephant drive on the pavement? Because he wanted to crunch the pavement."

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Moses, Harriet Tubman, Raoul Wallenberg and Nelson Mandela - who all went beyond their own limitations to bring physical and spiritual freedom to others. 

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be open to change - it will take you on amazing and life-affirming journeys that you never imagined. Also, buy Google stock.  

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I am a born and bred Texan. I have five children (which still surprises as well as delights me). 

What is your favourite place?

Somewhere sunny and warm, with a cool breeze, near the seaside with my love.