I try to never forget the true aim of teaching, which is to share knowledge with students that they can use once they graduate. As a world-renowned hub for innovation, diversity, and entrepreneurship, and a melting pot of future global leaders and change-makers, I know my teaching makes a difference at IE University.
Chasing a dream with Professor David Santos
After studying at UAM, David worked for a Rome-based NGO called Intermedia Social Innovation. As a research manager he was in charge of projects related to stopping cyberbullying among teenagers. One such project, Safe Social Media, worked with 50 schools across Italy and Spain, helping 120 teachers, 2,000 parents, and over 10,000 teenagers. The projects, funded by the European Commission, hugely helped teenagers at risk and kickstarted David’s ongoing goal to make a real difference in the world.
He has also worked as a data analyst for a loyalty program project at IE Business School, which involved managing a database of over 100,000 customers and trying to learn more about how loyalty cards work. In 2015, he became an adjunct professor in the Bachelor in Psychology, teaching a course on statistics applied to psychological measurement, before being promoted to a full-time professor at IEU HST in 2019.
David always knew he wanted to pursue a career at a top global university—somewhere his research could have a meaningful impact on the field of psychology, helping both other researchers and practitioners. The key to success, according to David, is perseverance. Even as an undergrad, when he was told his grades weren’t good enough to become a professor and researcher, he continued to chase his dream, and it clearly all paid off.
Now he’s determined to pass this wisdom down to the next generation of pioneers in psychology. As a teacher, David emphasizes that theoretical knowledge can only get you so far—practical knowledge is the real game-changer. Therefore, it’s important to treat the classroom as a microcosm of the real world, preparing students for today’s ever-changing job market.
David has a huge array of hobbies, from painting and reading to watching movies and concerts. He loves to share the story of his first time on a plane when he was 18 years old. Having never been on a plane before, he was excited to hop on board… only to jump straight out the other side. One caveat: his uncle had taken him parachute jumping. His favorite TV show at the moment is Stranger Things, while he is halfway through a new painting of the Jupiter landscape. The last concert he saw was for the indie-rock band, Editors, which reminds him of his daily work dealing with scientific journal editors.
For those hoping to study IE University’s Bachelor in Behavior and Social Sciences, David advises students to be open to challenging their own intuitions. He says behavioral science sometimes contradicts what most people think about how human beings behave. We’re all intuitive social scientists trying to understand the world—our teacher’s behavior, our boss’ behavior, even our mom’s behavior—so we all come up with naïve theories about how the human mind works. However, in the classroom, David challenges these made-up theories, and equips students with the skills and tools they need to really get to the bottom of what makes us all tick.