Q&A WITH ACAP's EDUCATORS
Q: Why do you think Criminology is great for students to study?
A: At ACAP, we have dedicated, committed staff who have worked in the criminology and justice field. Students will be taught by police officers, lawyers, criminologists and psychologists. It really is an immersive learning experience.
Q: What topics within the criminology and justice courses do you find the most interesting?
A: I have been teaching criminology and justice at ACAP for more than 20 years and I still find all of the units so interesting. Students can enjoy studying topics which uncover why people offend, why the criminal justice system works and where needs improvement, organised crime, forensic psychology, terrorism, and a whole bunch more!
Q: What advice would you give students hoping to study in the discipline?
A: Be prepared to be challenged. We all come to issues around crime and criminal justice with a number of ideas and opinions, whether regarding criminals, what we should do about crime, or sometimes negative views of police or others who work in criminal justice. Having studied Criminology for over 25 years, the one thing I’ve found is that nothing is as simple and straight-forward as we might think. It’s therefore important to put our personal views and experiences aside and consider issues from multiple viewpoints. This is what Criminology forces us to do, so students need to be prepared to have what they think they know challenged.
Q: What personal attributes do you think people need to study psychology?
A: The three personal attributes that support students in their study of psychology include openness, receptivity, and curiosity. Being open encourages us to be receptive to the experiences of others, and to grasp that there are multiple lenses through which we can view others, ourselves, and the world around us. Being curious encourages us in exploration. These attributes not only serve us well throughout out our degrees, but into our careers and as human beings.
Q: If you have to pick one, what would be your favourite unit to teach students and why?
A: My favourite unit to teach students is – bizarrely – research methods and statistics. Students often come into psychology with a fear of this unit and it’s a great experience being able to de-mystify numbers and their purpose. It’s exciting for me, too, to inspire a joy for investigation. Showing students how research can be used to build knowledge that can empower minorities also inspires me and speaks to the social justice perspective that I believe is core to education at ACAP.
Q: What are some topics in psychology that you find particularly fascinating?
A: I was attracted to psychology because of an interest in human behaviour and mental activity. Two areas that I think will have the most impact on our future understanding include brain scanning and research methodology. Dramatic improvements in brain scanning brought about through technologies such as fMRI have allowed us to take a direct look into the working brain when people are engaging in a range of tasks. As this technology becomes more accessible, our understanding of the biological basis of human mental activity will expand. I am also very excited by some of the changes that are taking place in research methodology. It’s easy to see this area as static because some of the techniques are hundreds of years old, but there have been changes in how we investigate psychology, and collect and analyse data that are going to have an enormous impact on our understanding.
Q: What advice would you give students who are considering studying psychology?
A: An undergraduate degree with a major in psychology is a science degree. The application as a mode of professional service comes with postgraduate study. Also, even more important, view your psychology degree as more than just pathway to a career in psychology. A psychology degree provides you with a range of attributes and competencies that can be used in a wide range of work and study pathways beyond psychology. See it as a generalist degree that can take you in many directions.
Q: Share a short story of a time you were proud to be an educator.
A: I love teaching students at the start and end of their undergraduate degrees. The transformation in the way they think about the world and about psychological science, over the course of their study, makes me so proud of their dedication to their education and of my colleagues’ ability to inspire.
Q: What topics in your field do you find particularly interesting and why?
A: I love learning more about the roots of prejudice and discrimination in our society and about how these issues can be tackled from a psychological perspective. Every person has a right to be treated as an individual, rather than being judged based on their race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, gender or sexual identity, age, weight, or physical and mental ability. How can we use what we know about human psychology to nudge society further in that ideal direction?