Dr. Travis Tubré: The Gender/Sexuality Course in London and Paris

Updated: Mar 27

Nobody can miss the astonishing energy of Dr. Travis Tubré. He chairs his university's department of Psychology and Neurosciences with a high-octane presence, and he teaches all of his courses the same way. But if you ask Travis where he feels his energies are most fully invested, he will say without missing a beat:

I feel more connection with Catalyst students than I ever can at home. It's just different in Europe. We recruit students who have the curiosity, toughness and discipline to accomplish The Catalyst. And with those special students? We can walk 10 miles for class. We can sample spicy street food as we walk and talk. We can agree in just a few weeks away that nobody comes home the same from doing this. I don't come back the same, and I've done The Catalyst for more than a decade."

The Sexuality and Gender Class and its Magic

Travis is a highly-decorated classroom teacher on his campus, with no class winning him more raves than his Sexuality and Gender course. As good as it is at home, it can't be compared with what the class becomes on The Catalyst. Travis prepares his students carefully for the learning journey that they'll find in London and Paris. And as his student testimonials confirm, the preparation is important:

This class made me think about who I am and why I can use my own voice to assert that to anybody. Some of the sharing and deeper discussions were intense enough to push me to think in really serious ways about what it means to be an ally to my sisters and brothers. I prepared fully for this class before we went abroad. Anybody who didn't would have been totally out-of-their depth on day one. I came home from Travis's class and said things about myself to my own family that wouldn't have been possible for me to say before. It was my best class ever.

Choosing a favorite day of class is almost impossible for Travis's students. In London, though, one of the standouts for sure is the LGBTQ Walking Lecture in and around old Soho. Long the center of London's LGBTQ scene, Soho is full of both liberation and oppression stories. Walking its narrow alleys and seeing where the Trans clubs once thrived and the sex-work industry in some cases still does, is a lot for most of Travis's students to process. The fact that he works so hard to establish trust, honesty and dignity is no small reason why the class works so well.

Repression and Oppression

The Sexuality and gender debates that rage through society today are front and center to how Travis teaches this class. When the group is in London, there's much Travis makes about the so-called prudery of the Victorians. Repressed like no others before them! Or so the dominant line authored by Freud and so many of his followers would argue. This hypothesis runs into many questions: What about the brothels everywhere? What about the LGBTQ activists, sometimes in the open and sometimes not?

One stunning day out of London Travis has always talked about doing for this class but so far has not: going to the top-secret manor home called Bletchley Park, where the Nazis infamous enigma code was broken by British physicists and math geniuses around 1940. These heroes were led by a young gay man named Alan Turing. The monument to his life was placed at Bletchley long after he died of suicide rather than face more of the terrible state persecution he'd already endured because he was gay. Will this be the year Travis leads a pilgrimage to Bletchley?

In France, the counter-argument to repression takes center stage for Travis and the class even as the class explores some of Sigmund Freud's own medical training in the city. The week here unfolds with a rising argument about medicine and the development of sexology as a science. While walking visits happen most days to locations in Paris that are key to the city's long history as a tolerant and libertine center.

From Empathy Mentor to Street-Food Genius: Travis Connects Like No Other

His students will usually tell anybody who asks that they out-walked and out-talked every other Catalyst group. This is hotly disputed but signals some of what's elemental to Travis about teaching abroad. He never wastes time. His groups hustle and walk and explore every day. But his students will take pains to point out that Travis will also be sure to model for them some things they really take away from his class. He is highly empathic and listens actively to what his students say and what they don't say. He models this and asks the class to lift itself up toward empathy, always. The same is true for self-awareness and gratitude. Travis walks these walks very personally with his class, after they've talked through their complex personal goals for the overall experience.

A day of Travis teaching makes everyone hungry, especially Travis. His student get some really unique magic here. Nobody on the program is better than Travis at finding street food anywhere, at any time, for super cheap prices. He has made a life chasing the best food, made simply but with great ingredients. Like what he got at home and with his extended family down in Louisiana as a boy. He has a nose for the best food, and his students smugly enjoy this advantage when the class breaks for lunch.

And so by the way do The Catalyst Faculty and Staff. It's not unusual for Travis to text all of us in the afternoon when class is done. To tell us that he has found the most amazing pub with the most incredible mix of Thai and traditional British fare. And because he even brings a special energy to a text of this kind, it's not unusual to have all of the faculty and staff show up about an hour later to the pub. And find that Travis has pre-ordered food. And already knows the history of the place. And the names of the people cooking and serving the fare.

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