Furthering the pioneering  
work of Alfred Adler.

Furthering the pioneering
work of Alfred Adler.


Adler University continues the pioneering work of the first community psychologist Alfred Adler by graduating socially responsible practitioners, engaging communities, and advancing social justice.

Alfred Adler began community psychology by articulating the constructs of gemeinschaftsgefühl (social interest or the connection between individual and community well being) and systemic / structural community intervention (such as preventative public health measures).  Adler University, as a higher education institution, continues his work today through the production of three outcomes which are specified in the Mission:

  • Socially Responsible Practitioners:  Socially responsible practitioners are educated to be effective personal and social change agents in the pursuit of justice.
  • Community Engagement:  Community engagement is collaborative partnership that strengthens communities, provides service, and prepares students.
  • Social Justice:  Social justice refers to equitable distribution of economic, political, civil, cultural, social, and other resources and opportunities in society in order to promote the optimal development of persons and communities.

The three outcomes of the Mission are interconnected conceptually as well as through the organization of Adler University.  The University's education and training prepares students to be socially responsible practitioners who engage communities and advance social justice, during both their course of study and their later professional lives.  The University directly engages communities – through over 500 community partnerships including the direct service contracts of Adler Community Health Services and the training relationships which support delivery of students' Community Service Practica – in order to provide students with experience training in socially responsible practice and to advance social justice within those communities.  The University's Institutes for Social Change bring attention to social justice within the University through stimulating changes in the curricula and through specific didactic and experiential activities for students and faculty – as well as promote social justice beyond the boundaries of the University through engaging communities in a variety of programming


The leading academic institution advancing socially responsible practice, healthy communities, and a more just society.

The Vision is for Adler University to be the "leading" or premier higher education organization addressing socially responsible practice and its concomitants – locally, regionally, and globally – a unique resource for broadening relevant practice, effecting social justice, understanding policy, initiating advocacy, promoting academic reflection, and producing social action and change. 

The three external outcomes of the Vision are aligned with the three outcomes of the Mission.  Socially responsible practice is central to Adler University's Mission and Vision and is the extension of Alfred Adler's original ideas regarding the need for a more equal, cooperative, and just society, as well as his revolutionary ideas regarding the potential for activism among health professionals to address social challenges.  The University's faculty defined and operationalized the competency of socially responsible practice, with expected knowledge, attitudes, and skills acquired through specific curricular experiences and evaluated through milestones, for graduate programs in clinical psychology, counseling, family therapy, organizational consultation, art therapy, police psychology, and a number of related disciplines and applications of psychology. 


Five values guide expectations and behavior at Adler University:

Social Interest:  We are part of and invested in community, and we act and collaborate with compassion and social responsibility.

Adler University's faculty, staff, students, and graduates are recognized as teachers and promoters of social responsibility, are engaged in their communities, and are politically aware and active.  We will strengthen our culture of social responsibility and of community service and engagement.  Life at the University will be marked by rich opportunities for service, an active pursuit of sustainability, a vigorous commitment to the city and peoples of Chicago and Vancouver, and a realization of those cities' connections with the larger world.

Pluralism:  We respect and celebrate human diversity and difference.

Throughout our history, recognition and inclusion of diversity have been hallmarks of Adler University.  Our academic, social, and organizational strength is enhanced by our inclusiveness and respect for the unique identity of individuals reflected in their cultural traditions, beliefs, and viewpoints.  The University embraces diversity in its broadest sense, including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, age, nationality, language, disability, socioeconomic status, education, religious / spiritual orientation, political perspective, and intellectual viewpoint. Adler University views diversity as an essential component of the educational experience of our students and an important indicator of our success in ensuring the relevance of the University.  We will dedicate the necessary resources to recruiting, welcoming, supporting, and retaining outstanding students, faculty, staff, and leadership who will significantly improve the diversity of the University community, with particular attention to the inclusion of under-represented, under-served, and marginalized populations.  Academic life and scholarly excellence will be enriched in profound ways by our global connections and bonds with local, national, and international organizations.  These programs, partnerships, and relationships will demonstrate our deep local roots, wide national influences, and broad global reach.

Courage:  We encourage leadership, innovation, and creativity, act on principle, and challenge the status quo.

We will continue to build a culture of innovation.  Alfred Adler's thinking, Rudolf Dreikurs' work, the University's revised curricula, and the Institutes for Social Change's groundbreaking work are all challenging and revolutionary – and we expect the University's ongoing work to challenge assumptions and to support revolutionary approaches to social action and change.  Staff and faculty are encouraged to find solutions beyond the boundaries of traditional higher education practices.  Students are prepared to be leaders who are agents of change.

Excellence:  We embrace the highest level of quality, rigor, and integrity for education, scholarship, performance, and outcomes. 

We will continue to build a culture of high performance. To ensure leadership in the changing global context, we will support high performance in learning, scholarship, technology, financial management, and organizational processes.  We will train, inform, and empower staff, faculty, and leadership through motivating and rewarding high performance and through providing opportunities for professional development and advancement.  We will be an international magnet for the next generation of intellectual and professional leaders.  With each graduate program demonstrating distinction, and with increased support for programs that have achieved or will achieve recognition, we will be known as a world-class institution for advanced studies related to social responsibility, healthy communities, and social justice.

Pragmatism:  We are outcome-oriented and evidence-based, and we pursue real-world solutions and measurable results.

We are a practitioner school that is practical and applied. We apply scholarship and theory to practice. Our work can be observed in the surrounding communities in which we live, learn, and practice. We are out to change the world for the better. Our organizational practices are effective, efficient, and focused on outcomes. We set goals and achieve them.

Alfred Adler's vision remains relevant today. Learn more.

Alfred Adler's vision remains relevant today.
Learn more.

Meet the diverse group of leaders who help shape our work.

Meet the diverse leaders who shape
our work.