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Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (AHSS)


Make a Lasting Impact


Our research and community and global partnerships give students and faculty the chance to have positive, lasting impacts around the world.

Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Contributing to Knowledge

Faculty & Student Research

Our faculty and students work around the world in labs, studios, archives and libraries making discoveries that address real-world problems and ambitions.

Recent Awards and Grants

Here are some of our most recent achievements

  • Jing Sun, associate professor of political science, was invited by the government of China to attend a high-level conference on rural governance in Xianningm in central China. Sun attended this conference with several governors, a vice speaker of the House and advisors to the Chinese president.
  • Professor Sarah Pessin, departments of philosophy and Judaic Studies, is the recipient of the Iliff School of Theology 2016 Everding Distinguished Lectureship,  an endowed lectureship in inter-religious dialogue. The lectureship features outstanding speakers from the Anglican-Episcopal, Jewish, and Islamic traditions to enrich the educational and outreach programming of Iliff and Saint John's Cathedral. 
  • Eleni Sikelianos, professor of English, received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship which will allow her to take time off from teaching to focus on writing and research. This is the second time Sikelianos has received a grant from the NEA.
  • Laird Hunt, professor of English, is the recipient of the first edition of the Book Award The Bridge for his novel Neverhome. The Book Award The Bridge unites the Italian and American cultures, and aims to strengthen mutual understanding. Recipients are from either Italy or the United States. Hunt accepted his award in October at the U.S. Embassy in Rome.
  • Anne DePrince, professor and chair in the psychology department, was named the recipient of SafeHouse Denver's 2015 Carolyn Hamil-Henderson Memorial Award. DePrince will receive the award in October in recognition for her efforts to provide inspiration and leadership to end domestic violence in the community.
  • Jared Del Rosso, assistant professor in the department of sociology and criminology, has published a new book, Talking About Torture: How Political Discourse Shapes the Debate (Columbia University Press).
  • Two AHSS faculty received accolades from Latino Literacy Now's International Latino Book Awards in June. Elizabeth Escobedo, associate professor of history, won first place for best history book in English for, From Coveralls to Zoot Suits: The Lives of Mexican American Women on the World War II Home Front. Lydia Gil, Spanish lecturer, won first place for best youth Latino focused chapter book for, Letters from Heaven.
  • Sarah Enos Watamura, associate professor of psychology, has been selected to join the 2015 class of Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows. The Ascend Fellowship invests in 21 diverse leaders from a range of sectors who have breakthrough ideas to build economic security, educational success and health and well-being for low-income families in the US. 
  • Dean Saitta, professor and chair of anthropology, received the William S. Tacey Award for his service as co-president of the Colorado Conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). 
Spotlight on Faculty Research

Professor Studies Impact of Mountain Films on Post-World War I Germany

You won’t find a Weimar mountain film in theatres this fall. The once popular German films haven’t been on the silver screen in 80 years. Yet they once bolstered the psyche of a defeated nation. Wilfried Wilms, associate professor of German, studies the impact of defeat in World War I and the development of mountain films in Germany.

“No other country produced mountain films. They are a peculiarly German phenomenon in the aftermath of World War I,” Wilms said of the films primarily made during the years of Weimar Germany (1919-1933), the time following the signing of the constitution for the postwar republic in the town of Weimar in South Eastern Germany.

“Mountain films, and those dealing with arctic exploration, are centered on a remarkably coherent set of themes – exploration and triumph, survival and perseverance, loss and defeat – all notions that determined the front experience of the modern soldier fighting the First World War,” said Wilms.

“The hugely popular films projected health, virility and masculinity at a time when the German nation was experiencing defeat and humiliation,” he said.

Born and raised in Koblenz, Germany, Wilms earned a PhD in Germanic Studies from Indiana University. As a student, he became interested in the two World Wars and the ensuing effect of defeat, particularly the intellectual reactions in Germany. Although he primarily studied German intellectual history, he developed an affinity for German film, including “rubble film,” popular in Germany after World War II, and mountain films.

Today his research focuses on the history, memory and representation of war and conflict in literature and film. His new book project, Cool Conduct in Cold Places, investigates the mountain film as a particular cultural response to Germany’s loss of World War I.

“I show that mountain films exhibit psychological mechanisms for coming to terms with defeat,” he said. “Triumph of calm and collected German speaking men at the top of Montblanc or in the snow- and icescapes of Greenland were meant to aid in the healing process of a humiliated German nation.”

“I also pursue peculiar issues such as the presence of German World War I flying ace and postwar phenomenon Ernst Udet in many of these films, asking whether we can we look at German climbers and explorers as avengers of national honor who perform for an excited German audience rituals of mobilization and restoration,” he added.

As a professor at the University of Denver since 2005, Wilms enjoys helping students hone their critical/analytical thinking skills, to enable them to become self-reliant and capable of analyzing closely what is around them.

“An added component in terms of teaching German language and literature is that the other culture adds perspectives not readily available for individuals who do not know a second language very well. Not only do students discover a new and different culture; they also look at their own, seemingly familiar one, with a fresh set of eyes. I truly enjoy watching how their worlds simply expand, and how our students look around, sometimes in amazement,” he said.

Spotlight on Student Research

Psychology Grad Student's Research Makes a Big Media Splash!

New research confirms everything your mom told you about "once a cheater..." Many unfaithful partners tend to be repeat offenders. A yet-to-be-published study by Denver University grad student Kayla Knapp looked at the relationships of 484 unmarried 18-35 year olds and found that people who had cheated on a partner in the past were 3.5 times more likely to be unfaithful in a subsequent relationship.

Read more about Knapp's research in Women's Health magazine. 


Hear how one professor integrates his research into the classroom: