We are currently experiencing an immeasurably challenging moment in history, and it has laid bare the continuing divisions and injustices within our society. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and, most recently, Rayshard Brooks echo centuries of horrifying and violent treatment that people of color–specifically Blacks and African Americans–have faced.
Independently, each of these events is enough to cause distress, evoke anger, or illicit fear and sadness. Considered together, the deluge of emotions that arises feels almost overwhelming. We write to express our outrage and to say that we stand in steadfast solidarity with the victims of racial violence, discrimination, and marginalization. We oppose white supremacy, bigotry, and the complacency that has allowed these evils to persist for far too long. We are committed to being actively anti-racist, holding ourselves and each other accountable, and affirming, through both words and actions, that Black Lives Matter.
Much like the COVID virus that has lifted the veil from our nation’s unequal healthcare system, racism is in the air we breathe. It is highly contagious, and people can be infected without being aware of it. As individuals, we must acknowledge and confront the role our racial biases and actions play within this system. As a department, we must reexamine our courses and engage in critical dialogue with the explicit goal of identifying and eliminating bias in our curricula. We acknowledge that psychology as a discipline has been used to support racist and exclusionary theories and practices, but we know that it can also contribute to understanding, problem solving, and healing.
Galvanized by recent events and infuriated by the continued oppression of Black people, we stand resolute, determined to channel our feelings and aim our actions toward demonstrating to our black students, and all marginalized groups, that we are listening, and we support them. In the urgency of this moment, we are committed to using our collective voice to demand justice. We will engage our students in classes, research, and scholarship that recognize the perspectives that have been kept unseen to illuminate a more inclusive path forward.
We believe the most effective way we can help address the racism and inequality in our society is to first take intentional action toward eliminating these injustices within our own college community. To that end, we are in the process of:
Exploring our own racial biases and how they are manifested in our pedagogy and interactions with students and others.
Re-examining our courses to deepen our discussions of race and racism.
Moving forward, we pledge to:
Recommit to diversifying the psychology faculty by hiring more faculty of color.
Hire a faculty member whose scholarship focuses on race and racism.
The Psychology Faculty
Psychology is both an applied and academic field that studies human thoughts, feelings and actions as well as animal behavior. The Psychology Department is committed to supporting the college mission of education around, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and other categories as they relate to human behavior and functioning.
Modern psychology is broad and diverse in terms of both topics and methods. The faculty and course offerings in Wheaton’s Psychology Department reflect that breadth and diversity. We offer courses in animal behavior, cognition, developmental psychology, personality, social psychology, neuroscience, health, forensic, clinical and multicultural psychology. Students can take courses in both quantitative and qualitative research methods.
Psychology is interdisciplinary by nature. The Psychology Department at Wheaton has connections with the natural sciences, the humanities, and other social sciences.
Students who major in psychology work in a wide variety of settings including schools, human services organizations, research labs, and corporations. They can have careers in marketing, human resources, biomedical research, criminal justice and mental health. See what some of our alums are doing now.
For more information contact the chair of the department, Professor Rolf Nelson.