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Daniela Dominguez




Teaching philosophy grounded in ancestors, imagination, Queerness, and community

Daniela Dominguez, Associate Professor, University of San Francisco
2023 Outstanding Teaching & Mentoring Award Recipient

My teaching philosophy is influenced by my ideological ancestors— Angela Davis, Grace Lee Boggs, Gloria Anzaldua, Audre Lorde, Mariame Kaba, Dolores Huerta, James Baldwin, bell hooks, and Fannie Lou Hamer. Guided by my ideological ancestors, I examine the individual, sociocultural, and developmental differences that exist among students to create space for creative exchanges that are more inclusive of different voices. Because students have different learning styles, life experiences, and multiple sociocultural identities, I incorporate different types of learning opportunities including lectures, readings, media usage (e.g., documentaries, podcasts), essay writing, experiential exercises, student presentations, guest speakers, group discussions, and community engagement opportunities. 

My goal as an educator is to prepare future mental health practitioners to use ethical, anti-colonial, anti-racist, joy-focused, sustainable, and affirming health practices. To accomplish this objective, I strive to create a culture of mutual support where students can show up authentically and forge stronger connections with each other. My teaching practices center Liberation Psychology principles through: (a) imaginative pedagogy; (b) experiential and communal criticality; (c) Queering definitions of family; and (d) community engagement.

Imaginative pedagogy

It is my belief that pedagogy that is grounded in radical imagination illuminates the different strengths, hopes, aspirations, and resources that enable thriving in students. I use experiential exercises to encourage students to actively dream about their personal and professional goals, and to consider how course curriculum, art, and other pedagogical resources can help to clarify or amplify their desired vision of the future. Students have reported feeling more curious, interconnected and open to new and multiple possibilities.

Experiential and communal criticality

I have adopted a teaching approach that relies on deepening individual and communal critical consciousness. My classes aim to encourage students to explore their own perspectives, values, and relationships to their families, classmates, and communities through the use of art, visual maps, multicultural wheels, and family genograms. They are encouraged to view environmental adversity as a kind of collaborative challenge that can be met “in community.” When students work together to employ various capabilities and protective factors, they feel more confident determining what it means for them to be strengthened by their community, social networks, and intimate coalitions in times of stress. 

Queering definitions of family

My lectures challenge the hetero and cis-normative cultural standards that continue to exist in Counseling Psychology classrooms. In other words, conversations in my classes exist beyond the confines of the traditional nuclear family and students are asked to reflect on how they can more fully embrace different definitions of “family” as future Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Clinical Counselors.

Community Engagement

I have traveled with students locally, nationally, and internationally in pursuit of deeper community engagement. I believe that teaching outside of the classroom and research lab is critical. Research proposes that community engagement opportunities vastly increase students’ understanding of “the core values in humanity and become appreciative about what they have and who they are” (Choi, Ellenwood & Van Voorhis, 2014, p. 256).

May your teaching be Queer, imaginative, and radical!

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