Faculty Focus: Dr. Julia Langdal-Sittu
Title: Instructor, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Years at GCU: 7
- B.A. Psychology, Northern Arizona University
- M.A. Psychology, M.A. Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary
- Psy.D. Clinical Psychology, all from Fuller Theological Seminary
What is your most notable accomplishment in your field, and why was it important?
Last year I gave a presentation as part of a community outreach speaker series, and it is the most fun presentation I’ve ever done: a discussion of the psychology of superheroes. I love superheroes and comics and all things nerdy, so I explored the stories of superheroes and how they are our modern mythology. I examined how these modern myths nourish deep psychological needs within all of us, and I got to geek out over my favorite superheroes in the process.
What are you most passionate about in your field and why?
The most amazing thing about psychology is that it tells the story of people – who we are and why we do the things we do. No matter what subfield of psychology I am teaching, the core narrative is about human identity and behavior, and that is so thrilling and exciting to me. There’s a reason for everything we do, and if we don’t know the reason yet, someday psychology will find it!
What is a memorable moment you had in class, and what does that reveal about your teaching style?
One of my favorite experiences here at GCU was teaching Social Psychology. Our topic of the week was social influence and conformity, and I decided we needed to do a little field work. I took my students to GCBC in the Student Union, and I asked them to violate social norms (in a legal and ethical manner, of course).
To make them feel better about this very scary experience, I stood up on a chair in the middle of GCBC with a replica of the Sword of Aragorn from “The Lord of the Rings” and recited a speech from the movie – very loudly, with all eyes in the coffee shop on me. It was terrifying, but my students absolutely loved it.
And as I told them, I would never ask them to do anything that I was not willing to do myself. So as a group, we all went around campus and did some minor violations of social norms (e.g., standing backward in elevators, turning cartwheels in the library, standing in lines for no reason, dancing in the eateries).
I think this reveals that my teaching style is interactive, engaging and hopefully a little bit fun.
What do you like to do for fun in your spare time?
My favorite thing to do in my free time is hike. My husband and I hike the Grand Canyon every year – most years we do a Rim-to-Rim hike, but last year we hiked down to the bottom and spent a couple of nights camping near Phantom Ranch before hiking out. The Grand Canyon is one of those places that is deeply spiritual and moving, and just being in its depths is a tremendous experience. I can’t stop going back.
What is something interesting about you that most people don’t know?
I really love boxing and kickboxing! I’m not an aggressive person at all, but the physical and psychological release that I get from boxing is exhilarating.