Departmental Teaching and Research Themes

The department features faculty from a range of sub-disciplines of psychology, as traditionally defined: Clinical, Cognitive, Developmental, Neuroscience, and Social, and a range of courses are offered within each of these areas.  However, owing to the importance of interdisciplinary perspectives, a number of integrative themes emerge in both the curriculum and the scholarly activity of Psychology Faculty. Featured below are research themes investigated by UST Faculty and representative course offerings in the Psychology Department curriculum.

Health and Wellness – Psychologists have a particular interest in the understanding both mental and physical health, the mechanisms that underlie its maintenance, and how it might be better understood, encouraged, and attained. 

Relevant Courses: Psychopathology, Health Psychology, Positive Psychology

Related Programs:  Heath and Exercise Science, Social Work

Sample Research Interests of Department Faculty:

  •         How do college students handle stress? What role does sleep play in overall health?
  •         What role does a musician’s engagement in their art play in recovery from serious illness?  

Sustainability – One staunch challenge currently faced worldwide is the fate of our natural environment.  These pressing environmental issues pose urgent questions for psychologists, as they are ultimately products of human behavior.  How might an understanding of thinking and behavior in the context of the environment promote better stewardship?

Relevant Courses: Psychology of Sustainability, Psychology and Work, Social Psychology

Related Programs:  Environmental StudiesGeographyGeology

  • How does a person’s view of themselves relate to how they view (and interact with) the natural environment?
  • What strategies can be employed to encourage better environmental stewardship? 

 Marriage and Family – The important role of the family in a healthy, happy, and productive society is undeniable and universal.  An important focus of the UST Psychology department is the investigation of human development, and its relationship to the family system and dynamics. 

Relevant Courses: Infancy and Childhood, Psychology of Adolescence, Lifespan Development, Psychology of Marriage and Family

Related Programs:  Family StudiesSociologySocial WorkCommunication and Journalism,

  • How do parent-child relationships influence development? 
  • How does a child develop a moral sense? 

Brain, Consciousness, and Behavior: An understanding of brain function and how it produces conscious experience is at the very core of the field of psychology. Psychology faculty at St. Thomas conduct research on the nature of sleep, vision, attention, memory, in both animals and humans.

Related Programs:  NeuroscienceBiology

  • What is the relationship between technology use and attentional skill? Are there methods or practices that can improve attention?
  • How we move successfully through the space around us?  How might spaces be designed to be more navigable for the visually impaired?