My publicly engaged work has centered upon social justice education within communities and higher education institutions. My work is deeply concerned with issues of power, privilege, and difference within cultures and communities and seeks to collaborate with students, community members, and institutions to raise awareness and create change around these issues. For the purposes of illustration, I will discuss my work as two (interrelated) categories: 1) emboldened minds and 2) empowered bodies.
As an educator in communities and at higher education institutions, I seek to provide access to knowledge to those traditionally marginalized from education and to facilitate community engagement that allows those educationally privileged a manner to give back. Several completed and current projects speak to these commitments. While a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, I trained local teachers in student engaged pedagogy and coordinated a national capacity building workshop on gender and development for rural NGO leaders. During my time as an administrator at a community college in Virginia, I developed a program to provide intensive academic coaching for at-risk and underprivileged students entering college for first time. As a graduate student at UW, I have developed course assignments that require students to blog or to contribute to public wikis in order for their work to reach beyond the walls of the institution. Additionally, I collaborated with a professor in the Department of Communication on a class that taught theories on race and justice and facilitates public engagement with local institutions to collective ponder how effective dialogue on race can be generated (see a video I created about the class here). These projects represent my commitment to educational access and empowerment through knowledge and awareness.
Embedded within my Communication scholarship and my community work is a central focus on the physical disenfranchisement or empowerment of marginalized bodies. My capstone project at SIT Graduate Institute, Empowering Her Fist: The Social Justice of Women’s Self-Defense Training, employed theories in conflict transformation, social identity, inclusion and exclusion, and experiential learning to build a curriculum in women’s self-defense training. This work untied theory with practice and offers self-defense trainers new language for addressing old oppressions. I collaborated with self-defense and martial arts trainers and they brought new ways of experiencing embodied resistance to oppression through their physical and mental expertise. My interventions here are significant because martial arts and anti-violence lineages have different ways of speaking about violence and engaging resistance to violence; thus, my public scholarship project seeks to draw upon these distinct ways of knowing and ways of being to see how they can inform and enrich one another. Since completing this capstone project, I have conducted women’s self-defense trainings and public talks on sexual violence in a variety of locations.