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Psychology Community Engagement

The psychology program encourages meaningful faculty and student participation in the community. In addition to numerous opportunities for experiential learning, below are some examples of how our students and faculty engage with the local community. Collectively, such experiences help students to see how what they’re learning in class can be applied outside the classroom and also expose community members to Shepherd’s educational activities within the program.

Students Mentor Adolescents

Shepherd students enrolled in Dr. Dobish’s PSYC 342 Adolescent Psychology class mentor adolescent 7th graders from local middle schools during a day-long campus visit while applying what they’ve learned in the classroom. The middle school children get a firsthand look at what it is like to attend college while Shepherd students get the opportunity to observe some of the variables that affect adolescent development. Shepherd students also provide information, guidance and encouragement for education. The highlight of the day is eating in the dining hall and ends with a pep rally in the midway!

Students Engage With Older Adults

As part of Dr. Dobish’s Psychology of Aging course (PSYC 343), Shepherd students engage in community discussions with older adults from the surrounding community. These discussions are an inter-generational, classroom experience in which younger and older adults interact to share their thoughts, opinions, and lived experiences on selected topics. Shepherd students interact with SAIL (Shepherdstown Area Independent Living) and Shepherd’s Lifelong Learning members.

Below is a WomanWorthy Podcast interview between Paulette Lee and Dr. Heidi Dobish discussing her approach to teaching “Psychology of Aging” and her efforts to reduce negative aging stereotypes.

WomanWorthy Podcast The Psychology of Aging: An Intergenerational Approach

Annual Aging Well Workshop

Shepherd University receives a grant from the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services for its annual Aging-Well Workshop. The Nursing, Psychology, and Social Work programs host the event with Dr. Heidi Dobish serving as committee chair. The Aging-Well Workshop’s primary mission is to promote graceful aging and to focus on the well-being of elders. The workshop strives to enrich the lives of elders and their families while promoting inter-generational connections and offering useful knowledge and creative practice interventions for professionals. It also provides continuing education credits for nurses and social workers. Shepherd students are welcome to attend the workshop for free. Any student in the Aging Studies Minor program is welcome to serve on the committee. Please contact Dr. Dobish for more information  (

To review recent Aging Well Workshop brochures, please click on the links below:

2022 Annual Aging Well Workshop: Holistic Approaches to Aging Well

2021 Aging Well Workshop: Lifelong Thriving

Students Practice Deliberative Dialogue

Students who enroll in a special topics course on Leadership WITH Deliberation co-taught by Dr. Heidi Dobish and Magistrate John Unger learn the skills of deliberative dialogue. Deliberative Dialogue brings people together in order to find common ground between participants. These dialogues also respectfully address the differences between people in order to find a solution to a common problem, one that impacts everyone. The students in the class practice how to create a structured discussion on an issue selected by the class and the community. By utilizing their skills in leadership, communication, and civic engagement, they lead community members through a deliberative dialogue to find the best course of action for the problem.

Dinner with strangers

In 2018, three Psychology majors, along with some students from Social Work, dined at the home of Paul and Diane Kradel as part of President Hendrix’s “Dinner With Strangers” initiative, which presents a unique opportunity to bring members of the Shepherdstown community together with our fabulous students.

Seeding your future workshop

Dr. Sytil Murphy, associate professor of physics, created Seeding Your Future to inspire young girls to consider going into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Her hope was that “girls would walk away with a love of STEM and an appreciation that it’s fun and interesting and something they can do.” Shepherd students run workshops and are group leaders, escorting the middle school students around. This gives participants the chance to interact with the college students, who are studying in STEM fields. Psychology faculty, Drs. Dobish, Levitan, and Lovelace, have conducted sessions at this annual event hoping to inspire interest in the sciences.

Dual enrollment

Students in local high schools have the opportunity to learn from Shepherd University psychology faculty by enrolling in Shepherd’s dual-enrollment program. Department instructors, notably Dr. Heidi Dobish, offer sections of PSYC 101 Introduction to Psychology to eligible high school students in Berkeley County and Jefferson County in West Virginia and also St. Maria Goretti High School in Hagerstown, Maryland at the Shepherd’s Martinsburg Center. This program allows the students to receive college and high school credits simultaneously.