Academics and Research / News

Director teaches community engagement in and out of class

Professor Anne DePrince gives a recent lecture.

Many people think “true” learning only happens in the classroom.

Not Anne DePrince, who took over as director of DU’s Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) in February. The center offers programs for students, staff and faculty to learn about social change, injustices and inequalities in the community. Programs also emphasize partnering with communities to impact change collaboratively rather than trying to solve problems for other people.

In her new, part-time role at the center, DePrince is teaching students, faculty and staff that learning also happens in the community and that civic engagement goes hand in hand with academics.

“Sometimes it’s perceived that service learning and community involvement is watered down from the true learning that happens in the ivory towers,” DePrince says. “It actually is an avenue to bigger and better things.”

DePrince has been teaching in DU’s psychology department for nine years. She is trained as a clinical psychologist but has spent most of her career working in research and service-based psychology and community engagement.

“I got bit by both an activist and research bug while I was in college,” DePrince says. “From that point forward, the two passions came together.”

DePrince’s primary research interest is domestic violence against women and children and its effects on emotion, cognition, attention, memory and post-traumatic stress disorder. She also directs DU’s Traumatic Stress Studies Lab.

DePrince currently works with several community partners—including nonprofits, the Denver Police Department and the Denver District Attorney’s office—to study how research can improve intervention. It was her community involvement that ultimately connected her with CCESL.

DePrince says her own community engagement allows her to understand what resources students, staff and faculty need for success.

“We’ve been talking a lot about student and faculty and staff development all at same time. How do we bridge those stakeholders instead of thinking of them as separate groups?”

Jenny Whitcher, program coordinator for CCESL’s Puksta Scholars program, says DePrince brings valuable knowledge and experience to the center.

“Anne is a strong advocate for service learning, public good research and community engagement, but more importantly, she is a practitioner,” Whitcher says. “This puts her in an excellent position to lead CCESL into our next phase of growth.”

For more information, visit

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *