Dr. Lutgen-Sandvik joined the faculty at UNM in 2005. She was born in Alaska and lived there until moving to Arizona in 2001 for graduate school. Prior to graduate school, she worked in field of social work where she served as a nonprofit administrator in the area of substance abuse treatment and women's advocacy.


Recent and forthcoming publications (see CV link on homepage):



Research Areas: I currently study the issues of workplace bullying and employee emotional abuse, particularly the impact of abuse at work on targets and the ways in which employees resist bullying. I am currently working on projects to explore the impact of one family member’s abuse at work on the other family members and their relationships, impact of bullying on identity, and how people make sense of the experience. My approach is interpretive/critical in nature and predominantly focused toward employee-advocacy rather than organizational productivity, although these are certainly not mutually exclusive. Furthermore, I strongly adhere to a collaborative action inquiry/participative action research perspective in which academics work with organizational stakeholders to “grow” workplace systems and communication that ease workplace tensions, improve interpersonal interactions, and enhance individual and organizational performance (i.e., reduce/bullying and aggression). As such, I am interested in appreciative inquiry, positive organizational scholarship, and further exploring positive interactions in organizations based on a strengths perspective of improving human systems. I fundamentally believe that our best efforts to make workplaces more humane will be through exploring, underscoring and building upon worker, workgroup, and organizational strengths rather than focusing all our energy on problems or weaknesses.


Methods: My perspective as rooted in an interpretive perspective. As such, I predominantly use qualitative methods in my research. However, there are many questions that can only be answered using quantitative approaches, so I adapt methodologies to suit the topic of interest and the research questions/project at hand. I am particularly interested in focus group research, in-depth interviewing, and ethnographic/participant observation approaches. The latter is particularly enlightening for the exploration of employee resistance to abuse by organizational powerholders, since this type of bottom-up change generally occurs over an extended period of time. On the other hand, I am invested in measuring the prevalence of bullying in the U.S. workplace and exploring the impact of bullying on family dynamics, human health, and social functioning.


Teaching Style: My beliefs about teaching, and what makes someone a good teacher, are grounded in my beliefs about how all human beings should treat one another. Teaching necessarily engages the emotions of actors. It means challenging learners to answer questions like: What is the contribution you will make to the world? What difference will you make in the lives of those you touch? How can I, as a teacher, assist in your learning journey? My teaching style is, in many ways, rooted in my beliefs and training as a social worker. Students are most successful when they can focus on and build upon their strengths rather than "work on" their weaknesses. I believe their greatest room for growth is in the area of their greatest strengths. I focus first on what I want students to achieve in class and second on how that can be done with the talents available to students. Last, and equally as important as the rest, I love to laugh and want to have fun during the process.


Favorite Classes: I love teaching courses that allow for a high level of peer interaction, experiential learning activities, and team-based projects. Although lecture is a necessary element of education, it can easily be overused and is the preferred learning style of only a small segment of students. As a result, my favorite classes are group communication, professional communication, and organizational communication. I am also particularly interested in emotional issues at work and enjoy teaching about emotions in organizations, participation action research, and both the destructive and constructive sides of organizational communication.


Why UNM? The department has an outstanding reputation in the communication field, exceptional scholars, and is located in one of the most beautiful areas in the western United States. I am honored to become part of this cadre of academics and a member of the Albuquerque community. There are three central reasons I am working at UNM: (1) the university is committed to providing quality education to both undergraduates and graduate students; (2) the C&J department has a reputation for attending to the quality of life of faculty, staff, and students; and (3) the C&J faculty and their research interests provide a rich environment in which my own research flourishes.


Spare Time: I am a movie addict! I watch them for relaxation, escape, recreation, and for the pure enjoyment of seeing my favorite actors. I love to garden and see things grow, do hand crafts, sew, decorate/remodel, and even occasionally cook something (when I'm in the mood). I am also a total bookworm and can spend an entire day curled up with a great story.