Dana Dunn wins national award
Dana S. Dunn, professor of psychology and assistant dean for special projects, has been given the 2013 Charles L. Brewer Award for Distinguished Teaching of Psychology from the American Psychological Foundation (APF).
“There is no greater teaching honor in psychology,” said Dunn on receiving the news of his award. “This is touching and gratifying, and there are so many who would be viable candidates.
“This is a feather in Moravian’s cap. Most winners would be found in a research-based or state university, and is an acknowledgement of the good things we do in small places,” he added.
Dunn earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Carnegie Mellon University in 1982. He loved both cognitive and social psychology, and was drawn in by the hybrid field of social cognition, which was still new at the time. After completing his Ph.D. in 1987, Dunn accepted an assistant professorship at Moravian College, where he intended to stay for a short period of time.
Twenty-five years later, Dunn said the opportunity to teach a variety of classes, do interdisciplinary teaching and create active classroom experiences “proved compelling” and he simply stayed. Today he teaches social psychology, research methods, history and systems, adjustment, and a course on architecture and psychology because he loves architectural history and design. He also conducts work on the social psychology of disability as well as pedagogical research, known as the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL).
“I feel that I can still be true to Moravian’s mission while keeping my hand in mainstream research,” he said. He characterizes his work as “like a snowball” which rolls along and grows over time. “What I really like to do is write and I like big projects,” he explained when asked about the number of works he has published. To date, Dunn has authored or co-authored over 140 articles, chapters, and book reviews, and he has written or edited 17 books.
Dunn is a member of the editorial board of the journals Psychology Learning and Teaching and Rehabilitation Psychology, and a frequent peer reviewer. He is editor-in-chief of Oxford Bibliographies: Psychology, an online resource. In 2010, he served as the president of the APA’s Division Two, the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, through which he has formed many satisfying collaborations.
Through his work with the APA and research and relationships he makes along the way, he continues to be ever more prolific. “The more you write and publish, the more projects come to you,” he explained. “There’s a certain synergy now.
“I see my textbooks as an extension of my teaching. I know what I want to say based on what I’ve done in the classroom,” he said. “I consider myself blessed by all this work, my friends and the autonomy I’ve been given here at Moravian,” he added. “Being able to pursue my passions is just a blessing.”
Jane S. Halonen, Ph.D., dean of the college of arts and sciences at the University of West Florida, Pensacola, Fla., wrote a nomination letter for Dunn in which she said, “He has served with distinction as an author, an elected leader, an administrator, a conference manager, a liberal arts expert, and an AP (Advanced Placement) contributor.”
She continued by discussing Dunn’s ability to generate questions for research and convene colleagues with whom he collaborates to produce “documents that are of substantial value to the psychology education community.” She said his books based on proceedings at Best Practice conference have “contributed to improving teaching practices that have affected thousands of students.”
“The caliber of his scholarly contributions has been broad, deep and rich,” she wrote. “He has made inroads not just in (SoTL), but in social, health, and adjustment areas of specialty as well.”
During his career at Moravian, Dunn has served as chair of the psychology and philosophy departments. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science and the Eastern Psychological Association.
Dunn and his wife, Sarah Sacks, a technical writer and editor, raised two children in Bethlehem, who are now headed off to their own college careers.
The Brewer Award is given by the APF, the philanthropic branch of the American Psychological Association (APA), in recognition of a “significant career of contributions of a psychologist who has a proven track record as an exceptional teacher of psychology.”
Since 1953, the APF has supported research, scholarship and projects for students and psychologist working to make a difference in people’s lives and for programs that enhance the power of psychology to elevate the human condition and advance human potential.