Jen Wright

Director of the First Year Experience

image of Jen Wright


Jen Cole Wright is a Professor of Psychology and Director of the First Year Experience. As director of this vibrant program, she recruits talented faculty to teach First Year Seminars and Learning Communities. In addition to the development and scheduling of these courses, she helps to develop faculty professional development programs to facilitate campus conversations about teaching and learning in the first year and beyond. She is a strong believer in the transformative value of studying abroad and facilitates optional one-credit spring break trips for freshmen.

Dr. Wright teaches introductory courses in psychology and lifespan development, but her passion lies in courses on the psychology of human conflict and social change—teaching courses like Psychology of War and Conflict, Psychology of Oppression, Resistance, and Regeneration, and Psychology of Social Change. She has been teaching in the First Year Experience program since 2009, teaching both seminars and learning communities with other faculty across campus. She has been a faculty fellow in both the Honors Department and the Center for Sustainable Development. And she serves as a thesis advisor for graduate students in the MS in Environmental and Sustainability Studies, and MES/MPA dual program, as well as the faculty advisor for on-campus student groups like the Vegan Club, Sustainable Fashion, the Charleston Area Justice Ministries CofC student group, the Stone Soup Collective, and the Human Rights Alliance. And for over a decade, Dr. Wright has also led College of Charleston summer study abroad programs to Cambodia and Vietnam, as well as Rwanda and Uganda.

Dr. Wright received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology and M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Wyoming, doing most of her undergraduate work at Bennington College and the University of Colorado, Boulder. She specializes in moral psychology, studying the development and function of virtue (with a particular focus on humility), and the ways children, adolescents, and adults navigate the moral domain, including how the process and react to moral differences and disagreement. She has published over fifty articles and four books, including A Psychological Perspective on Folk Moral Objectivism (2023, Routledge Press), Understanding Virtue: Theory and Measurement (2020, Oxford Press), an edited volumes on Humility (2019, Oxford Press), and Advances in Experimental Moral Psychology (2014, Bloomsbury Publishing). Of particular interest to Dr. Wright is how people understand the nature and function of morality and how they use it to shape, control, and protect collective well-being and individual autonomy, balancing between promoting a diversity of beliefs, values, and practices, while discouraging (and prohibiting) those beliefs, values, and practices that cause harm.

Off campus, Dr. Wright helps direct a local non-profit seeking to raise awareness about climate change and environmental injustice, building towards a climate resilient and equitable future for the Lowcountry, and mentors other fledgling organizations in the social and environmental justice sphere.