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At DU, research shapes every dimension of the student experience

For me, research has always been an essential part of higher education. After all, it represents a critical component of what it means to be human—a sense of curiosity that drives toward better understanding, and improving, the world. Research and its impact are key reasons I pursued a career in higher education.

Research also improves our ability to best serve our students. To give our students a holistic 4D Experience, the University of Denver draws upon the deep well of knowledge that exists right here on campus. The teaching and research of DU’s faculty members span countless fields directly related to the four dimensions of our 4D Experience: intellectual growth, character development, well-being, and careers and lives of purpose. And we’re using that expertise to inform the processes, opportunities, services and support our students experience from their first day on campus to their graduation. 

I’ll share an example. Several DU faculty members are serving as consultants and content experts in support of the DU 4D Experience. The research of one of these faculty members is on emotional self-regulation—a pivotal skill supporting lifelong well-being. Another’s is on the power and necessity of empathetic communication, a value we hope to instill in all our students. And yet another’s work focuses on reflection and the vital skill of being able to understand new ideas thoroughly enough to draw upon them, even in contexts wildly different from when they were first encountered.

So, what does this look like in practice? These faculty members, and others, consult with the career center, study abroad, the health and counseling center and other student services to give research-backed insight on how to translate the four dimensions into their programs. As well, they serve on several committees where they can bring their expertise and perspectives to bear in conversations across the University. Through this work, we are building a cross-university culture and environment that results in ample opportunities for students to make connections between their dimensions, such as their wellness, for example, and their ability to build the lives and careers they desire. And all this work is based on DU’s own evidence-based research on vitality and how students learn best.  

In this issue, you’ll get a glimpse of the breadth and depth of the knowledge creation happening at DU—from exploring how an urban environment impacts crickets to new studies showing a dynamic geopolitical shift between China and the U.S. And from these initiatives and so many more, we gain invaluable insights and data, which we can put into the hands of people across campus and the world to make positive changes, big and small, that define our students’ time here at DU and improve the world they go into once they graduate.

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