Having the right tools can allow a psychologist to make an impact in an endless variety of divergent areas. The work of CGU alumnus P. Wesley Schultz is a perfect example. His earliest years as a faculty member in the Cal State system were spent researching the relationship between the diverse population in California and the state’s many underutilized environmental programs. "How do you structure a program so that people will actually use it?" he asks. "How do we use psychological principles and theories to design, implement, and evaluate environmental programs like recycling or energy conservation?"
This work on environmental programs was an extension of his CGU dissertation. But the same principles and methods are applicable to many different types of program, and he soon found himself working on issues of health, education, and safety, in addition to his continuing passion for environmental issues. "I've been doing research with the National Institutes of Health, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Justice. All this work is focused on incorporating social psychological principles to change behavior."
"During the 10 years that I've been at Cal State San Marcos, I’ve blended my teaching and research interests," Dr. Schultz explains, "The faculty position allows your knowledge base to continue to grow. Science provides a tool for developing new principles and theories, but theory development is just the beginning. These theories are useful. For example, my funded project underway now with the U.S. Department of Justice is looking at community-based crime prevention programs. We are trying to use theoretical findings from our research on social norms to create community-based programs that promote a sense of safety among residents, and genuinely deters crime."
So how does one professor mobilize environmental thinking, nurture underrepresented groups in the bio-medical sciences, and reduce neighborhood crime? The answer is simple—solid knowledge of social psychology, and a thorough base of quantitative research tools. From one faculty position at a state university, Dr. Wesley Schultz is improving many aspects of the lives of people across the country.