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Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Psychology

Department of Psychology's

Commitment to Inclusive Excellence

The Department of Psychology at the University of Denver's mission is to advance psychological science by generating and sharing new knowledge through collaborative scholarship, educating and mentoring student scholars, and contributing to the public good. We believe achieving our mission will best be accomplished by intentionally incorporating diverse perspectives into our work. To that end, we are committed to developing and maintaining an inclusive community that appreciates the meaningful contributions diverse experiences and approaches bring to the study of psychology. Further, we aspire to recruit faculty, students, and staff from varied backgrounds who contribute unique viewpoints to our work. We value diversity along many dimensions, such as culture, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, religion, socioeconomic status, age, nationality, and language.

Within the Department of Psychology, our efforts to promote diversity involve both faculty and students. For example, a faculty Inclusive Excellence Coordinator and faculty-student working groups foster inclusive excellence across departmental activities and policies. The student-led Multicultural Interest Group (MIG) strives to enhance awareness of and competency in social dimensions that inform research, teaching, and clinical work.

Inclusive Excellence in Teaching and Learning:

Undergraduate courses address issues of diversity across the curriculum. For instance, students in our Introduction to Clinical Psychology class are often asked to reflect on actions that clinicians can take to demonstrate their awareness of and sensitivity to cultural diversity. Research Methods classes may involve service-learning projects that allow students to apply what they are learning in the classroom when working with community partner organizations who serve clients from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The graduate training program encourages students to gain experiences around issues of diversity in courses, clinical training, research projects, and additional activities such as volunteering with community partner organizations. Graduate students in the clinical area provide therapy and assessment services through the Child and Family Center for youth, adults, and families from diverse backgrounds. Clinical supervision helps clinicians to develop multicultural competencies. In our graduate program, all required courses highlight relevant issues of diversity. Specific courses such as Multicultural Issues in Mental Health and Cultural Psychology also provide opportunities for in-depth examinations of these issues.

Inclusive Excellence in Research:

Examples of current faculty research addressing issues of diversity:

  • Dr. Anne DePrince  examines the effects of abuse, violence, and trauma on diverse samples of youth and adults. She is particularly interested in community-engaged research that brings community voices into the research process.
  • Dr. Julia Dmitrieva 's research explores ethnic differences in parenting and how these differences are related to adolescent psychosocial outcomes. For example, her research finds that compared to European Americans, Asian American youths are more susceptible to the negative effects of moving away from home to college. Her ongoing work is exploring the potential link between ethnic differences in parenting and this ethnic difference in the effects of transitioning to college.
  • Dr. Jill Holm-Denoma 's research focuses, in part, on identifying multi-level risk factors for the development of eating disorders—both among young Caucasian women and among traditionally understudied populations (e.g., members of ethnic minority groups, middle-aged women, men, etc.).
  • Dr. Omar Gudino 's research examines the mental health and service needs of racial/ethnic minority youths exposed to violence, particularly those involved with the child welfare and public mental health systems. His ongoing research examines risk and resilience in youths exposed to violence, racial/ethnic disparities in mental health service use, and evidence-based assessment and treatment for diverse populations.
  • Dr. Angela Narayan 's research examines resilience processes that buffer intergenerational adversity in ethnically, socioeconomically, and compositionally diverse families. Her research lab is particularly interested in identifying culturally-sensitive promotive and protective factors that foster psychological and physical health and wellbeing during the transition to parenthood.
  • Dr. Pilyoung Kim  investigates how social contexts such as poverty-related social disparities influence children's ability to cope with their stress as well as their parents' ability to buffer the negative effects of the stress on the children. Current research tries to understand the links between environmental, biological, and psychological mechanisms by which social contexts, such as poverty, influence children's ability to regulate their own emotions and their parents' caregiving ability.
  • Dr. Stephen Shirk  focuses on the development and evaluation of psychological treatments for adolescent depression. He is particularly interested in developing effective treatments for underserved youth populations, especially those served by the public mental health system. His clinical samples include teens from diverse socio-economic and racial/ethnic backgrounds.
  • Dr. Sarah Watamura  examines familial, cultural, and individual protective factors against dysregulated stress physiology among infants, toddlers and preschoolers experiencing high levels of environmental stress. Particular questions include buffers unique to recent immigrant families from Mexico, as well as risk and protective factors within Hispanic-American, African-American and Caucasian-American families and the effectiveness of an intervention focused on strengthening core parent-child interactions in the face of "toxic" stress.
  • Dr. Max Weisbuch directs the Social Perception and Attitudes (SPA) Lab, which examines the role of visual and emotional processes in how people respond to other races, genders and social groups.

Faculty members provide strong support for students to learn about and apply for research funding opportunities related to issues of diversity. Funding received by recent graduate students includes:

  • NIH minority training grants
  • APA Minority Fellowships
  • University-level fellowships, including the Inclusive Excellence Award

Communicating about Department Inclusive Excellence Efforts

In 2012, faculty and staff working on inclusive excellence issues launched a quarterly bulletin, Diversity Matters, to highlight research, teaching and training excellence around diversity issues. Issues from 2012-2015 are available below.

Since 2016, Diversity Matters has been a regular feature our department newsletter.

Inclusive Excellence in our Connections to the Community

The Department of Psychology has many rich connections with campus, community, and government organizations that work with diverse populations. For example:

Inclusive Excellence and the University

The University of Denver's vision is to be a great private university dedicated to the public good. The University values inclusive excellence, recognizing that its success is dependent on how well it values, engages, and includes the rich diversity of constituents (to learn more about inclusive excellence at the University of Denver, please visit http://www.du.edu/cme/index.html).