Psychologists use the term "cognitive distancing" to refer to stereotyped beliefs about why people are poor, and the term "institutional distancing" to refer to the ways in which institutions (like education, housing, health care and public policy) punish poor people by erecting barriers to full inclusion. This talk will explore the ways in which both are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Melissa Clearfield
Professor of Psychology

Melissa Clearfield is a professor of psychology who teaches courses on child development and poverty. Her research explores the impact of poverty on infants.

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COVID-19: A Liberal Arts Approach to the Study of a Global Pandemic was created in the spring of 2020 as a special one-credit course for Whitman College’s most newly admitted students, offering them an opportunity to get to know our distinguished faculty and to study a significant event in human history.