Mission and Values
The mission of the community psychology program at Georgia State University is to educate and train doctoral students in the science and practice of Social Intervention in Diverse Settings. Social intervention is defined as research, programs, or policies that impact the resources accessed by communities and/or individuals. Our students and graduates use theory and empirical research from psychology and related disciplines to develop, implement, evaluate, and advocate for effective social interventions that promote the well-being of diverse populations, in diverse settings, in the United States and internationally.
The training we provide is guided by the following values:
- Research informed perspective
- Interdisciplinary scholarship
- Collaborative relationships
We have a diverse and active faculty involved in research and action on a range of community issues affecting children, adults, and families, with a particular emphasis on urban settings:
- Wing Yi Chan: minority youth civic engagement and transition to adulthood
- Sarah Cook: violence against women and HIV in the US and South Africa
- Chris Henrich: victimization in the US and Israel, and after-school settings as they relate to student achievement
- Gabriel Kuperminc (program chair): youth development in culturally diverse groups; public health approaches to alcohol and substance abuse prevention and treatment
- Kelly Lewis: risky health behavior in Tanzania and the US
- Julia Perilla: Latino families and domestic violence
- John Peterson: violence and aggression against sexual minority populations; HIV prevention among sexual minorities
- Ciara Smalls: resilience in ethnic minority families and economically diverse groups; strengths based prevention
- Kevin Swartout: social correlates of violence against women; alcohol and substance use
For further information about the interests of the community faculty, see Faculty Interests (community)
Although we differ in the settings, populations, and problems that interest us, our faculty share a common perspective as researchers rooted in psychology and informed by related disciplines, such as education, public health, sociology, and women’s studies. We are united by a shared emphasis on changing resources, social norms, and public policies that affect individuals and the contexts surrounding people’s lives (e.g., social institutions, neighborhoods, families).
We are involved at the local, state, national, and international levels. Faculty and students work with community agencies and governmental organizations on a range of projects. We design, implement, and investigate the efficacy of social interventions using a variety of research methods ranging from rigorous experimental designs to qualitative case studies. We collaborate with community partners to evaluate and improve existing programs. We partner with colleagues in other disciplines through initiatives at GSU such as the Partnership for Urban Health Research, The Center for Research on School Safety, The Center for Human Rights and Democracy, and The Center for Latin American and Latino Studies.
Graduate students take core courses in community psychology, human diversity, and quantitative and qualitative methods. They work in the community during at least 3 semester-long practica, in which they gain hands-on experience with grant writing, program development, policy advocacy, and other professional skills. In consultation with their advisors and depending on the career paths they wish to pursue, students then choose additional coursework in psychology and/or other disciplines. Graduate courses offered by the community psychology faculty cover topics such as the following:
- social policy, advocacy, and community organizing
- theories of social intervention, social change and prevention
- ecological assessment, community consultation, and program evaluation (2 semester sequence)
Many students take additional coursework in statistics or pursue interdisciplinary training, such as a certificate in public health offered through GSU’s Institute of Public Health.
Students who desire training in both community and clinical psychology apply for dual enrollment in both the clinical and community programs. Students in the dual program complete the requirements for both programs.
Our graduates go on to a range of careers including:
- academic research, teaching, and administration
- applied research
- public health
- independent consulting
- clinical and community practice
Click here for a list of recent MA Thesis and Dissertation Titles.
Click here for a list of current positions of our graduates.
Undergraduates are offered a course in Community Psychology, as well as many opportunities to engage in community research and action through practicum and independent study courses. In addition, a student may choose to receive a concentration in community psychology by completing a specified body of coursework and practical experiences (see the GSU General Catalog for details).
The Community Psychology program is located on the 11th Floor of the Urban Life Building. Each of the core faculty members has an office and lab space for graduate students on the west side of this floor. In addition, the space contains a Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing lab for use in telephone survey research.