The Community Social Psychology program at UML is proud to employ a number of talented, nationally regarded faculty members who tackle issues of social justice both in their work and in their every day lives. Professor Jana Sladkova is no exception to this rule. Dr. Sladkova came to UMass Lowell in 2008 and has taught in the CSP program since her arrival. Originally hailing from the Czech Republic, Dr. Sladkova received her PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City in 2006. Though her main interests are immigration and deportation issues, Dr. Sladkova has recently been working on a project with fellow psychology professor Dr. Alyssa McCabe on the lived experiences of children with immigrant parents. Working from a small grant, the project has morphed from children’s experiences with deportation to studying the children’s narrative development as bilingual in a country that mostly values English speakers. CSP student Isabel Cano serves as a research assistant on this project, helping with specific tasks such as recruitment. The project is currently being written up for the journal Latino Studies.
Dr. Sladkova also continues to work on her PhD dissertation that looked at the experiences of Honduran migrants. When I asked why she focuses on the experiences of Latino people, she described that she feels a special connection to Latino culture and finds the power differentials involved in the experiences of different immigrants to be interesting. The manuscript for her dissertation will be published in the Psychological Interventions journal, and because it is published in both English and Spanish, she is excited that she will finally be able to share her work with the community she studied in Honduras.
Perhaps one of the most important points that Dr. Sladkova elaborated on was that she is ‘excited that the government is finally talking seriously about immigration reform.’ Though it may not be the direct result of research on immigration, she believes it has ‘helped to push in that direction.’ This belief that socially responsible research may lead to real world policy change is one of the common threads that binds CSP faculty members. Stay tuned for other profiles of faculty work!