Women and Gender Studies Program

Hermeet Kohli Ph.D., MSW

Director of Women and Gender Studies, Professor of Social Work
Hermeet Kohli

Office Location

94 Bedford Street, Portland Campus

Faculty Office Hours Spring 2021



(207) 780-4640

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D.
  • M.S.W.


Dr. Hermeet Kohli is the Director of Women and Gender Studies and a Professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Southern Maine and has resided in Maine since 2006. She teaches the following undergraduate and graduate social work courses: Multicultural Social Work Practice, Social Work Research, Introduction to Social Work Practice, Field Work, and Social Work Practice with Immigrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers. She has been a social work educator since 1997 and has taught at various social work schools nationally (University of Louisville, California State University - Chico, University of Southern Maine) and internationally (Delhi University, India). 

Her teaching philosophy is greatly influenced by her own educational/life experiences as well as Gandhi’s and Freire’s ideals of democratic education. She continuously strives to follow their core people-centered values of humanism, fight against injustices (using participatory action), and faith in people’s abilities. She identifies as a social constructivist and this framework lends to understanding and fulfillment of her multiple roles, as a – Sikh Asian Indian American woman, educator, social worker, mentor, coworker, advocate, daughter, mother, partner, and friend. She understands that no one is born culture-less or identity-less; therefore, she advocates the humanistic approach to teaching and learning where narratives of all students are encouraged and fostered in the classroom.

Professor Kohli has worked as a generalist social work practitioner in several national and international social work agencies. Her research is situated at the intersection of teaching and service, and centered on the principles of participatory and applied research that centralizes the voices of those often overlooked. The overarching theme that organizes her scholarly activities is to “enhance the wellbeing of client populations being served through culturally responsive social work practice”. She is interested in knowing how prospective and practicing social workers develop cultural humility and responsiveness to better serve diverse client population(s). Her scholarship agenda is deeply personal and rooted in her determination to examine the experiences of vulnerable, marginalized populations, and to affect positive change by bringing to the forefront the voices of the women, children, and families from the vulnerable groups that are often subjugated and disfranchised due to systemic and institutional barriers. Within this theme, four major initiatives can be used to describe her work: (a) understanding/ measuring culturally responsive practice and diversity education, (b) acculturation and coping strategies of vulnerable groups i.e. immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, (c) prevention of intimate partner violence, and (d) innovations in online course development to better meet the needs of students.

Research Interests


  • Self-compassion integration in social work and higher education
  • Impact of Self-compassion practice in higher education during COVID-19 pandemic 
  • Culturally responsive practices with immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers
  • Raising bicultural families in Maine, where one partner identifies as an Asian Indian
  • Integrating maps in a social work diversity course
  • Qualitative and quantitative reflections on challenges faced while teaching online human diversity courses
  • Interdisciplinary service-learning projects and service-learning in an online diversity course

Recent Publications

  • Kohli, H. K., Wampole, D., & Kohli, A. K. (2021). Impact of online education on student learning during the pandemic. Studies in Learning and Teaching Journal, 2(2), 1-11.https://doi.org/10.46627/sile
  • Kohli, H. K., Shanti, C., & Gerstenblatt, P. (2021). Asian Indian mothers’ experiences raising bicultural children: A phenomenological study. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work. https://doi.org/10.1080/15313204.2021.1949773
  • Kohli, H. K., & Fineran, S. (2020). Latino fathers’ narratives on child abuse and neglect. Critical Social Work, 21(2), 1-17. https://doi.org/10.22329/csw.v21i2.6459 
  • Kohli, H. K., Shanti, C., & Gerstenblatt, P., (2020). “A drumbeat underneath the child”: Asian Indian mothers’ perceptions of their multiethnic children’s lived experiences. The Journal of Business Diversity, 20(2), 111-122. https://doi.org/10.33423/jbd.v20i2.2903
  • Fineran, S., & Kohli, H. K. (2020).  Muslim refugee women’s perspectives on intimate partner violence.  Journal of Family Social Work, 23(3), 199-213 Work. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10522158.2020.1742839
  • Kohli, H. K., & Fineran, S. (2020).  “The rain grows plants, the thunder does not”: Refugee and asylee women’s narratives on child abuse and neglect.  Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies, 18(2), 224-238. https://doi.org/10.1080/15562948.2019.163.9874
  • Kohli, H. K., & Fineran, S. (2020) “If they misbehaved, we took a stick to discipline them”: Refugee mothers' struggles raising children in the United States. Journal of Child and Family Social Work, 25(2), 488-495. https://doi.org/10.1111/cfs.12705
  • Kohli, H. K., Ross, F., Kohli, A. S., & Peng, C. (2016). Universal-Diverse Orientation of Business, Education, and Social Work students.  International Journal of Management in Education, 10(2), 111-130. https://doi.org/10.1504/IJMIE.2016.075554