In the Classroom

Teaching Capitalism(4/16/2015) – Almost every semester I teach an undergraduate or graduate course in criminological theory. At best I can devote three weeks to radical, critical and feminist criminology because of the plethora of other lesser theories in the discipline. It is almost absurd to suggest that I can, even superficially cover the 1,152 pages of Marx’s Das Kapital and the 912 pages of The Grundrisse (Penguin Books editions) in an hour or two. The truth is that I am in my 30th year of trying to read and understand The Grundrisse myself. Even if I had a full semester devoted to a.

Teaching the New Jim Crow(11/6/2014) – As discussed in a previous post “But we have a Black President!” teaching and discussing social stratification and inequality can be a challenge. A recent best selling and award-winning book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander, addresses these challenges as they relate to the criminal justice system. Alexander explains that “the book’s main argument—that the stunning, unprecedented rise in U.S. incarceration during the past 30 years marked the birth of a new system of racial and social control reminiscent in many respects of Jim Crow segregation.” In her book, she documents how.

Using Engagement and Building Empathy in a Death Penalty Course(10/23/2014) – I’m going to write here about a couple of specific projects I use in my Death Penalty class to engage students in both direct and indirect interaction with the realities of the death penalty as well as to develop a subjective understanding of these realities (i.e. to empathize). But let me start by giving a little context about how I approach teaching about the death penalty. From the perspective of teaching, I’ve always looked at the death penalty as a kind of magnifying glass on the criminal justice system. The operations, legal processes, issues and problems inherent in the criminal.

“But we have a Black President!” An exercise in teaching structural inequality and issues of stratification(10/16/2014) – In tackling the subject of social stratification, I am sure I am not alone in having to field some student questions that betray their inherent struggle to think beyond their own experiences, and embrace larger structural patterns of inequality based on race, class, gender, age, disability, and sexual orientation. Although these types of student questions vary, they share commonalities that express disbelief, frustration, and even anger at the idea that large groups of people are differentially treated based solely on one or more of their social identities. In their arguments students draw from examples of exceptionalism such as “racism doesn’t.

Disney in the Classroom(10/9/2014) – To assist my student in learning theories I incorporate Disney movies. Given their immense popularity it is likely that many students have seen the movies or at the very least know the premise of the movie. I am aware that my students are not taking an introductory class to learn about theories. Below I have outlined a few of the movies I use, their corresponding theories, and a link to videos/songs that are used. Routine Activities Theory Cohen and Felson (1979) suggest that three things must occur simultaneously in the same time and space for crime to occur. The three.

What happened to social theory in the Sixties?(9/25/2014) – The sixties brought with them the moral dilemma of United States hegemony and race relations. What moral authority does an overtly divided society have to rule the industrial world? Social movements fomented somewhere around the advent of rock and roll, critical scholarship and political moral entrepreneurship. The German Frankfurt School’s critical theory had begun transforming American social theory on the heels of the Cold War, and more specifically, a previous decade of McCarthyism. Through a discourse of morality and critical scholarship Sociology contributed a powerful critique of Functionalism. Critical theory is based on several fundamental concepts dealing with the alternative

Causing & Experiencing Harm(9/11/2014) – In some courses that focus on criminal behavior, I use this in-class exercise at the beginning of the semester to build class interaction and to get students thinking about victims and offenders. I find this activity particularly useful in my community-based corrections, where many of the crimes we discuss are nonviolent. This activity is adapted from a former professor of mine, who used this exercise often and learned it from the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. Causing and Experiencing Harm The actual activity does not take much time to prepare as long as you have the Causing Harm handouts and a.

Suggestions for Supplementing the Ferguson Syllabus(9/4/2014) – For the last few years, I have taught a course on Social Forces and Policing Society. The catalog description of the course reads as follows: Examines the history and evolution of policing in the United States with an emphasis on the political, social, cultural, legal and organizational forces that have molded that history. The roles and functions of police in America are examined in detail within the context of race, class and gender. We begin by examining Kelling and Moore’s (1988) monograph on The Evolving Strategy of Policing and the subsequent critique by Williams and Murphy (1990) The Evolving Strategy.

Goffman’s Ghost: The Art of Acting 101—Articulated(8/21/2014) – ‘There are indeed many precautions to imprison a man in what he is, as if we lived in perpetual fear that he might escape from it, that he might break away and suddenly elude his condition” (Goffman quotes Sartre, 1959: 76). Erving Goffman was a rebel. He imagined himself outside of traditional schools of thought academically. As Randall Collins infers, his course was to “raise questions that no one else had ever asked and to look at data that no one had ever examined before” (1986, p. 110; Appelrouth & Edles, 2011: 194). Goffman was born in Alberta, Canada. He.

The Scandal and the Light: A Summary of Foucault and Post Structuralism(8/14/2014) – Now the scandal and the light are to be distributed differently; it is the conviction itself that marks the offender with the unequivocally negative sign: publicity has shifted to the trial, and to the sentence; the execution itself is like an additional shame that justice is ashamed to impose on the condemned man; so it keeps its distance from the act, tending always to entrust it to others, under the seal of secrecy (Foucault 1977: 9-10). Structuralism takes a wide lens approach to social forces. Where these social forces exist at the institutional level of organizations, and/or the governmental level.

A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down(7/23/2014) – In this clip from HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” host John Oliver (formerly of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”) breaks down multiple issues related to America’s standing as a carceral state. Using humor to help several bitter pills go down, Oliver provides a scathing commentary on topics from racial inequality in sentencing to prison rape and privatization. He describes US drug laws as “a little draconian, and a lot racist” and explains that current incarceration rates require “adorable singing puppets to explain prison to children in the same way they explain the number seven or what the moon is.” Pointing out.

Emma Goldman: An Exceedingly Dangerous Woman(4/21/2014) – Emma Goldman was born in 1869 in Lithuania. In 1885 she emigrated to the United States taking a job in a Rochester New York clothing factory. For the next 34 years Emma Goldman was one of the most articulate and popular writers and commentators on women’s rights, the plight of industrial workers and the futility of war. In the early morning hours of a December day in 1919, after having been confined on Ellis Island without criminal charges, Emma Goldman and more than 200 other foreign-born U.S. citizens were summarily expatriated from the United States because of their opposition to.

The Battle of Algiers(4/14/2014) – This is an assignment that uses Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers (1966) to visualize and supplement Gary Potter’s assignment using Frantz Fanon’s and Jean-Paul Sartre’s critiques of colonialism. All resources mentioned below (including the entire film) are available in my archive for the film The Battle of Algiers (Algeria/Italy: Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966: 121 mins). In 1966 Gillo Pontecorvo’s film The Battle of Algiers was released to critical acclaim as well as official condemnation. In France it was banned until 1974 when it was finally screened in a cut version. The film examines the early part of what is known as.

The Wretched of the Earth(3/31/2014) – Franz Fanon (1925-1962) was a well-known psychiatrist and philosopher. He received his medical and psychiatric education at the University of Lyon and was the head of the psychiatry department at the Blida-Joinville Hospital in French-occupied Algeria. In 1954 he joined the Algerian liberation movement and edited the revolutionary newspaper El Moudjahid. In 1961 Fanon’s book The Wretched of the Earth was published. Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), the French novelist, playwright and existentialist philosopher, wrote the preface to the book. Fanon argued that colonized people could only be freed from their degradation by purging all aspects of European culture from their societies.

Angela Davis “Arts, Education, Activism”(12/14/2013) – Angela Davis’ personal journey is an inspiration to students who want to be a part of active change. Davis took this lecture opportunity to discuss Black History Month, rewritten histories, democracy, and community. Her initial critique addresses the true past of “Black History Month” as she challenges the audience to think about what it is that is actually being celebrated. Is it simply another commercialized opportunity for consumers? Or something implemented in schools to gloss over historical facts? Unfortunately, very few would think to equate Black History Month with its origins from Carter G. Woodson, who started Black History Week.

Richard Ross “Juvenile In Justice”(11/17/2013) – Richard Ross is an American photographer who has documented, through narratives and images, what it is like to be “in the system” as a juvenile offender in various locations across the United States. The visuals (which can be found here) are stunning in their austerity and what they say about our treatment of juvenile offenders. Most Americans do not give much thought as to the conditions in which we place wayward children; many probably do not care. However, many of the photographs Ross displays are too shocking to ignore. The first thing you notice about the shots of the actual.