Academic Biography
Dr. R G Tonks

I am curerntly teaching psychology at Camosun College and the University of Victoria and I have previously taught at Simon Fraser University, Kwantlen Polytechic University and the University of the Fraser Valley and Royal Roads University.

Having grown up in a "Mill Town", New Westminster -"the Royal City"- I first attended the University of British Columbia in the fall of 1979. At that time I was planning on becoming a dentist, like my father, but in my second year of sciences (biology major) I took my first course in psychology at the urging of my then girlfriend. I really was not interested in psychology and thought little of it, but I needed an arts elective and was told that it would be fun and easy one to take. After taking that first course (psyc 100) I took a second course the following year as I was also taking courses in bio-chemistry, bio-statistics, protistology and French. During the fall term I began to reconsider my life path as I was bored out of my head with bio-chemistry, falling asleep in class, and found experimental psychology to be really fascinating.

That was when I made the leap from sciences to arts and began to be a psychologist. During the next couples of years as I finished my degree I began to volunteer (for two dollars a half-hour) as a research subject in the “Attention Lab.” This lab was headed by Professor Anne Treisman who had developed a widely accepted model of attentional processing (a late selection model). The other leading researcher was her husband Professor Daniel Kahneman, who late received the Nobel prize in economics along with his friend and colleague Amos Tversky for their work on cognitive biases in their “Prospect Theory”. Most of the studies I participated in for each of them were performed on a tachistoscope, now archaic, but then was rather clever device to present images in short rapid succession.

After having been a regular “subject” for a sometime the Lab Coordinator one day told me that a post-doctor researcher, Gordon Logan, was in need of a research assistant and that I should talk with him. I was immediately hired and began to run subject in his learning studies using a new high-tech computer the Digital PDP-11. After working with Gordon for a year he got a position at Purdue University and I completed the studies we had been working on over the next year before I left academic for a short while.

During the next year 1985-1986 I moved to Montreal, a place I had dreamed about visiting since my early teens and I landed a job moving office furniture for Zeller’s as they were moving their head office across town. During that year I decided to enroll at McGill and took courses on Human Factors, Philosophy of Psychology and Health Psychology. While researching for my health term paper on yoga and relaxation techniques for reducing hypertension (wandering through the stack in Redpath Library) I stumbled on a paper by Anand C. Paranjpe on Yogic Philosophy. This paper was not going to help me for my term paper but I was really fascinated by it and decided to look him up at Simon Fraser University where I returned home later that year. As it turns out this was a really important “chance encounter” as Albert Bandura would call it, since upon meeting Professor Paranjpe in August that year I found my mentor, my guru.

In the fall of 1986 I began to work with Professor Paranjpe and Professor James Marcia in the psychology department at Simon Fraser University on a Honour’s project on social identification and social perspective taking. Another key influence on me that year was Professor Denis Krebs, who introduced me to the work of Lawrence Kohlberg on Moral reasoning as well as the work of Sir Richard Dawkins and others in the socio-biological / evolutionary psychology stream. The following year I began my Masters studies under the direction of these three professors on Acculturation and Identity among Indo-Canadian youth and young adults.

The external examiner for the MA thesis are Professor Marvin Westwood of the Counselling Psychology department at the University of British Columbia. As I began my Doctoral studies also at Simon Fraser University, I audited Professor Westwood’s course on Cross-cultural counseling, as course that has had significant impact on my understanding and teaching of cultural psychology and the amelioration of acculturative stress.

Throughout my graduate studies at Simon Fraser University I worked as Teaching Assistant, where TAs ran tutorial sessions as a complement to the lectures that the Professors delivered. As I worked through Introductory Psychology I soon landed a series of TAship in the History of Psychology for Professors Anand Paranjpe and Bruce Alexander (both very influential on me) as well as Professors Leonard Diamond and Christopher Davis. After having completed my comprehensive paper I began to teach my own courses in 1994, beginning with Psyc 402 the Honour’s seminar on Historical and Theoretical issues.

Ph.D. defense for R.G.Tonks, left to right Dr.s:
Cathy McFarland, Jean Phinney, Randy Tonks, Anand Paranjpe,
Michael Kenny, Meredith Kimball, Jim Marcia, Jeremy Carpendale


After completing my PhD in 1998, delayed by having children and teaching overloads, I began to teach at Kwantlen and soon also began to teach at Fraser Valley. In the fall of 2000 I landed a regular position at Camosun College in Victoria. At Camosun I began with teaching Introduction to psychology and History of psychology. In 2001 I began department Chair, a position I held until 2007. During those years I also taught Biopsychology, Research Methods, Persoanlity, Health Psychology and Cultural Psychology.

In 2008 I first taught Music Psychology along with my good friend Gary Anderson. Throughout those years Gary and I also recorded several Radio Shows for CKMO Camosun Radio along with our recording Engineer, Elwood Bradbury. Since my time at Simon Fraser I had been invovled in distance education whic continued while at Camosun where we used these Radio Shows (Podcasts) to enhance the learning expereince of our students. I had been invovled in several projects for the development of online sharable learning resources for BCCampus.

Since 1990 I have been a member of the Candian Psychological Association, first as a student affiliate and since as a regular member. I have served as Section Chair for the History and Philosophy of Psychology section as well as the International/Cross-Cultural Psychology section, and currently am a member of the International Relations Committee. I also have been a member of the Western Canadian Theoretical Psychology group and the International Society for Theoretical Psychology.

In the fall of 2009 I started to teach at the University of Victoria, initially asked to teach history of psychology but due to a timetable conflict with my teaching at Camosun I was asked to instead teach Psyc 100B in the evening. See my current courses.