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About Transylvania

Melissa Fortner

Associate Professor of Psychology; Program Director; Director of First Engagements

Hazelrigg Hall 115
Transylvania University
300 North Broadway
Lexington, KY 40508-1797

Phone: (859) 233-8189
e-mail Melissa Fortner

“One of the most rewarding elements of teaching is watching students have those moments of realization that something they’re learning in class has significance for the choices they make in their own lives.”

Psychology professor Melissa Fortner aspires to promote her students' understanding of humanity, and that begins with an understanding of themselves and their relationship to the world.

"Such understanding requires a cultivation of critical thinking, honest introspection, and communication skills," she says.

Fortner cultivated those skills during her own undergraduate days at Transylvania, where she completed a double major in psychology and philosophy. Eight years later, in 2004, she returned to her alma mater, where she now helps students grapple with questions about how society shapes individuals, and how gender-, race-, and class-based systems of privilege affect all Americans.

The ultimate goal, says Fortner, is to help students develop as autonomous, authentic, life-long learners who are mindfully and ethically engaged in the world.

Want to know more about Transylvania's psychology program?

Academic history

Areas of research

Courses taught

Professional memberships

Academic history

  • Ph.D., Human Development and Family Studies, Penn State University, 2004
  • M.S., Human Development and Family Studies, Penn State University, 2000
  • B.A., Psychology and Philosophy, Transylvania University, 1996

Areas of research

  • Status-based privilege and power (e.g., based on gender, race, and class) as an organizing feature of identity development and relationship functioning
  • Feminist analysis of family relationships
  • Critical and social justice psychology

Courses taught

  • Human Development: Childhood and Adolescence
  • Human Development: Adulthood
  • Doing Gender in Marriage
  • Issues In Developmental Psychology: Identity Development
  • Issues in Developmental Psychology: Parenting/Parenthood
  • Issues in Developmental Psychology: Family Development
  • Developmental Psychopathology
  • General Psychology
  • Statistics for the Social Sciences
  • Senior Seminar in Psychology
  • First-Year Seminar
  • Violence, Memory, Identity, Family: The Oral History and Psychology of Dictatorship (Travel course to Argentina)

Professional memberships

  • National Council on Family Relations: member of the Feminism and Family Studies section and the Race and Ethnicity section

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