Thank you for considering our program for your graduate work! Our social psychology program values social justice, critical perspectives in psychology (e.g., critical race theory, intersectional feminism), and passionate students who care about situating human psychology within a particular social, political, and historical context.
When I’m reviewing applications, I pay close attention (1) your writing ability, (2) your ability to make connections with my research and how I might work with you to develop your research program, (3) your quantitative skills and training, and (4) your passion for social issues and social justice. I encourage you to read some of my work, which can give you an idea of the type of researcher I am and strive to be.
I care a lot about improving intergroup relations, and I’m highly dissatisfied with current approaches in social psychology. I am not at all interested in continuing to document the misery of human existence (which of course is valuable and important, but there’s enough of that in the field). I value creative and new ways to improve intergroup relations, and I’m constantly thinking about how we can do that through research.
Most of my work stems from social dominance theory, which has been so useful for me to think about both the challenges of improving intergroup relations, but also on how to actually disrupt the cycle of hierarchy maintenance. A lot of scholars think that SDT is a hopeless and depressing theory, and for the most part, they are right. However, I’ve found that it’s the only theory that is realistic about the challenges we face, and if we can overcome these challenges, then we might actually be able to make a difference. That’s why in my intervention and protest work, I focus on dominant group members (e.g., men, White people, people from developed nations).
Clark’s Social Program is small, but we are all committed to critical analyses of violence in some form. We are critical of maintstream social psychology, and we train our students to both learn and understand the prevailing views in social psychology while also learning to be critical and to see how mainstream social psychology problematically examines issues of social justice and social structure (if at all). Thus, while in some ways, you’ll receive traditional training in social psychology (e.g., methods/statistics, theories in social psychology), you’ll also receive critical training (e.g., socio-structural analyses of human psychology, critical theories, multi-method approaches to answering research questions).
If you’re interested in traditional training social psychology where you learn how to run experiments that test myopic “theories” of human behavior, then you shouldn’t apply to come to Clark. If instead you’re committed to social justice, have a passion for social issues, and want to learn how to think critically about social psychology and research, then Clark would be a good place for you.
In terms of mentoring, I meet with my students every week for the first two years or so as we develop your research projects. After the first two years, I expect my students to become more independent and to work with me as a collaborator. I expect my students then to decide how much they want to meet and what they want to work on. I view my graduate students as apprentices early on, learning the mechanics of research and also the theories that will guide their work, and later on, I work more as a collaborator as my students work on developing their own identities as researchers. I love when my students take their education into their own hands and work to become independent, but of course, I’m there when they need me.