'In an increasingly globalised and interconnected world, it is imperative that we learn to co-exist alongside our differences...'
Phone: +64 3 364 2964 ext. 6964
'Unity in diversity – I am a social psychologist with special expertise in the areas of diversity, social identity, stereotyping and prejudice. My interest is fuelled by the desire to better understand how people’s membership in social groups (e.g., ethnic, national, religious, and gender) influence one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours toward others as well as one’s self-conceptions. For the last decade, I have been particularly interested in understanding the complexities of achieving national unity in the midst of ethnic and cultural diversity. In an increasingly globalised and interconnected world, it is imperative that we learn to co-exist alongside our differences – my research offers a building block in the direction of understanding how to achieve such a goal.'
What does diversity mean to you?
'People belong to a variety of social groups on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, ability, country of origin, nationality, profession, social class, and so on. Diversity is, therefore, an inevitable fact of life. The social groups to which we belong are important elements of our self-concept – learning to respect, engage, and connect across these group memberships is thereby essential to positive living.'
What role does diversity play in your work?
'As an Indian-American living in New Zealand with family and friends spread around the world, I consider myself to be a citizen of the world with appreciation and criticism for any social group. I am regularly reminded of the complexity of social identity working and interacting with people at UC and within my field more broadly. Through my teaching, supervision, and research at UC, I am constantly reading and reflecting upon the topic of diversity, social identity, and intergroup relations.'
What diversity activities have you been involved in?
'I teach about diversity in both my undergraduate and postgraduate courses (PSYC 106, PSYC 332, and PSYC 466) and also supervise postgraduate student projects on the same topic. My research is consistently published in leading international journals and directly contributes to understanding the complexities of diversity, identity, and intergroup relations.
Outside of my teaching and scholarship on the topic of diversity, I currently serve as a Chair for the Grants-in-Aid Committee at the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) which is an international organization focused on applying scientific knowledge to addressing the critical social problems of today. I also serve as a member of SPSSI’s Internationalization Committee which strives to promote national diversity and connect scientists from around the world working on reducing social inequality and conflict.
Between 2008 and 2012, I was coordinator for the research mentoring program (RAMP) at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, USA, that helped undergraduate students from under-privileged groups (e.g. ethnic minorities, disabled, sexual minorities, or first generation university students) in psychology with their academic progression. At UC, I currently work with the Māori Development Team (MDT) to try and develop research-based interventions that will ideally boost performance of under-served students at the institution.
Based on my research expertise, I would best be able to serve in the groups relating to ethnic diversity; or international and cultural diversity. Through such a role, I will be able to provide insight into resolving complex diversity issues faced by the university using cutting-edge research from around the world.'