Skip navigation

College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Communication Studies

comn header v2

Faculty & Staff

Erin K. Willer

Erin K. Willer, Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Teaching Instructors

Associate Professor
Sturm Hall, Room 286



  • BS, Illinois State University
  • MS, Illinois State University
  • PhD, University of Nebraska, Lincoln


Dr. Erin Willer is an artist/researcher/teacher whose scholarship engages narrative, art, and embodied methodologies in order to harbor sense-making, empathy, compassion, community-building, and health in the face of difficult life experiences, including grief and loss.

Dr. Willer's research has focused on social aggression among girls and women, as well as infertility and perinatal loss. She has lead narrative and arts-based workshops for those in middle school through retirement. She is the founder of The Scraps of the Heart Project (, a community-based research collective dedicated to empowering families and educating communities about baby loss through story and creative arts. Dr. Willer often blurs the lines between the personal and the professional, mentoring and mothering both at work and home. For example, together with her daughter and son she creates artwork surrounding issues of social justice for those in need of empathy and compassion (see their work on Instagram by searching #matiplumstudio).

Dr. Willer teaches several community-engaged courses at DU—Communicating Grief and Loss, Visual Narratives of Women's Health, Communicating Empathy and Compassion, and Running as Feminist Embodiment—partnering with organizations such as Colorado Pregnancy and Newborn Loss Support, Girls on the Run of the Rockies, lululemon, and Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. Dr. Willer's work is published in journals such as Communication Monographs, Journal of Family Communication, Health Communication, Communication Studies, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Personal Relationships, and Qualitative Communication Research.