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Q&A with Debra Harley

photo of Dr. Debra Harley
Dr. Debra Harley

What has been your best experience at UK? (Or, what do you like the most about UK?)

Working collaboratively across disciplines and being able to examine issues from an intersectional perspective. In addition, the length of time in rank has allowed me the opportunity to focus attention of my scholarship in areas that interest me and may take me outside my academic discipline. Providing mentorship to students and faculty has been a consistent activity during my tenure at UK.

What is your favorite course to teach? Why?

CED 730 – Internship – This is the capstone course in which students get to demonstrate competency through application of theories, concepts, and methods of counseling. It is where the “rubber hits the road” and students engage in critical analysis, critique, and professional practice. In this course I am able to see the professional growth and academic maturity of students over time.

Describe your research.

My research foci are on social justice and advocacy for persons with disabilities and substance use disorders and mental health disorders. I look at the intersectionality of identities including cultural diversity, gender, sexual orientation, age and other social positionalities through the lens of empowerment and strengths-based attributes. If we approach the challenges of social inclusion from an asset, rather than a deficit model, individuals with membership in marginalized groups are afforded the opportunity of self-determination. This line of inquiry allows me to look at persistent and emerging trends in the discipline.