By Jordan Beach
Dr. Katrina Smith, associate professor of psychology, continues to be an important proponent in the success of Reinhardt University’s study abroad program, teaching students how to connect and relate their studies to other cultures.
Since starting as an adjunct professor in 2011 and full-time faculty in January 2012, Smith has accompanied three study abroad trips, including Ecuador, Cuba, Ireland and Japan in May 2020.
As part of the summer study abroad trip curriculum, one of Smith’s favorite courses to teach is Environmental Psychology because it covers a broad area of study and examines the way people interact with their surrounding physical world.
“We examine questions like: how could I promote more environmentally friendly lifestyles? What are the most significant behavioral changes that impact the environment around us? How do people relate to the natural world around them? How could I promote conservation? And then, we take all of those ideas and look at it through an international lens,” said Smith. “So how does the view of the environment that I developed here in the U.S. compare or contrast with the views held by people around the world?”
When she’s not globetrotting with her students, she enjoys teaching experimental methods. The work it takes to prepare the course is worthwhile to Smith as she gets to work alongside students while they learn how to test their theories about behavior, or as she puts it, “theory guides, experiment decides.”
“I love that we get to work collaboratively and creatively to take an idea and really put it to the test. It relies on a lot of creativity, problem solving and application of every part of psychology that I have ever learned about.”
Smith also works closely with her students to prepare them for conference presentations, including the Interdisciplinary Social Studies Undergraduate Research Conference hosted on campus in 2018. No matter what her career, Smith’s constant interest is understanding people.
“Everywhere I have been in the world and every job that I have ever had has involved people in some way. As an environmental chemist, my first career, I worked with people in the lab every day. As a psychologist, I am still working with people and trying to understand them. Now, my studies of people happen all around the world, literally.”
In her field of psychology, Smith never ceases to remain curious.
“There are so many questions to ask. In all my years of studying psychology, I have still not run out of questions to ask. That is what keeps me so excited about the field. There is just no limit to where it can take you.”
When she’s not studying or teaching human behavior, Smith loves scuba diving and underwater photography. Most recently, she has delved into underwater video work for a new challenge and considers herself a turtle-whisperer. Smith also enjoys being a group fitness instructor and personal trainer and teaches fitness classes at Reinhardt’s Gin Miller Studio.