Hope in a Time of Monsters: Supporting Faculty and Student Mental Health with Dr. Sarah Rose Cavanagh

Wednesday, September 27, 2023
2:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Floor/Room #

Dr. Sarah Rose Cavanagh will be visiting WPI to offer an interactive keynote and workshop, sharing ideas from her new book, Mind over Monsters: Supporting Youth Mental Health with Compassionate Challenge.

Teaching is a vocation. When supported with resources and security, it is a constantly renewing source of excitement and richness. The last several years of disruption, uncertainty, and overburdened workloads have exhausted teachers and students alike. Monsters have reared their heads, and we have understandably shrunk from them. Faculty are burnt out—sacrificing their own mental health, phoning it in out of desperation, or leaving the profession entirely. Students are experiencing an epidemic of mental health problems, especially of anxiety. To support their mental health and reinvigorate their learning, students need both compassion and care on the one hand, and assistance developing competence and self-efficacy on the other. Faculty need relief from overburdened workloads, but also to reignite their love of teaching. How can we support our students without burning ourselves out? How can we revive all of our sparks? In this interactive keynote, psychologist and educational developer Sarah Rose Cavanagh will present some research, food for thought, and practical applications based on her book on how higher education should respond to both faculty depletion and the student mental health crisis.

In the workshop portion of the event, participants will be invited to apply principles of compassionate challenge to their course, project, or advising policies, practices, or communications.

  • 2:00-3:30pm: Interactive Keynote with Q&A
  • 3:30-3:45pm: Refreshment Break
  • 3:45-5:00pm: Workshop

Faculty, staff, and students are welcome to attend whatever portion their time allows. Register here.

The event is sponsored by the Morgan Teaching & Learning Center, Center for Well-Being, School of Arts & Sciences, School of Engineering, The Business School, The Global School, Graduate and Professional Studies, Office of Undergraduate Studies, Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, and ODIME.


Sarah Rose Cavanagh is the Senior Associate Director for Teaching and Learning in the Center for Faculty Excellence at Simmons University, where she also teaches in the Psychology Department as an Associate Professor of Practice. Before joining Simmons, she was an Associate Professor of psychology and neuroscience (tenured) at Assumption University, where she also served in the D'Amour Center for Teaching Excellence as Associate Director for Grants and Research. Sarah's research considers the interplay of emotions, motivation, learning, and quality of life. Her most recent research project, funded by the National Science Foundation, convenes a network of scholars to develop teaching practices aimed at greater effectiveness and equity in undergraduate biology education. She is author of four books, including The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion (2016) and upcoming Mind Over Monsters: Supporting Youth Mental Health with Compassionate Challenge (2023). She gives keynote addresses and workshops at a variety of colleges and regional conferences, blogs for Psychology Today, and writes essays for venues like Literary Hub and The Chronicle of Higher Education. She’s also on Twitter too much, at @SaRoseCav.


Sarah Rose Cavanagh

Sarah Rose Cavanagh

Registration Deadline


Center for Well-Being