Developing Best Practices for Trauma-informed Teaching and Learning (2020-2021)

Acknowledging that stress associated with trauma is likely present in every student gathering at Duke University, this team explored a series of essential questions including:

  • How does trauma affect students’ experience of academic work at Duke?
  • How do students perceive faculty approaches to addressing trauma in the classroom?
  • How do faculty perceive, address and engage in the way that trauma affects learning in the classroom?
  • How might classes be taught, and academic programs be administered, in order to cultivate an environment in which survivors of trauma can thrive in their academic work? 

The team used the data collected in response to these questions to develop Trauma Engaged Duke (TED), a series of informational seminars for students from Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, the Divinity School and the School of Medicine. TED seminars educated students about the effects of stress and trauma broadly defined to include child abuse and sexual violence as well as stress and trauma in the context of racism, homophobia and other forms of social oppression.

Participants learned where they can receive additional information and care and completed survey questionnaires assessing their knowledge of trauma before and after the seminars. Participants from the TED seminars engaged in focus group interviews that explored how trauma reveals itself in the classroom or academic programs, how they perceive faculty intervention or lack thereof and strategies for helpful responses among both students and faculty. 

Team members learned about IRB proposals, designed the content of TED seminars and participated in leadership for TED seminars and focus groups. The resulting data, once deidentified was coded and analyze by the team. Outcomes included foundational qualitative data; two academic articles on trauma-informed undergraduate education and theological education.


Fall 2020 – Spring 2021

Team Outputs

Qualitative data

Two academic articles on trauma-informed undergraduate education and theological education

This Team in the News

Devoted Team of “Trauma Champions” Envisions Changes to the University Classroom

This project team was originally part of the Education & Human Development theme of Bass Connections, which ended in 2022. See related team, Developing Best Practices for Trauma-informed Teaching and Learning (2021-2022).


Image: Members of the class of 2019 gathered at the Durham Performing Arts Center to hear a reading and talk by Alison Bechdel, by Les Todd/Duke University

Durham Performing Arts Center event.

Team Leaders

  • Jan Holton, Divinity School
  • Warren Kinghorn, Divinity School|School of Medicine-Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

/graduate Team Members

  • Shelby Meehan, Divinity-MDV
  • Stephanie Schuette, Psychology-PHD
  • Hannah Smith, Divinity-MDV
  • Adam Tietje, Doctor of Theology

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Jakari Coles, Visual and Media Studies (AB)
  • Gaelyn Dent, Neuroscience (AB)
  • Anna Greenleaf, Psychology (BS)
  • Karina Heaton, Psychology (BS)
  • Alyssa Nelson, Psychology (BS)
  • Molly Pluenneke, Psychology (AB)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Jeff Kulley, Counseling and Psychological Services
  • Thomas Szigethy, Student Affairs
  • Noga Zerubavel, School of Medicine-Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences