Here’s a little about me and why I do what I do:
I lived in 12 small towns in New York State before I was six. Then my family moved to Syracuse. My parents and extended family were active in social justice work in our community. I was exposed to lots of community issues at our kitchen table.
As an undergraduate, I majored in Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College. It was eye-opening to join a housing and dining cooperative and to travel to Nicaragua to visit our sister cooperative there.
After my time as an undergraduate, I worked for two years in the Dominican Republic with a small, grassroots organization called Oné Respè. Oné Respè is a greeting in Haitian Kreyol that means honor and respect). We did human rights work and base community organizing with children, youth and women’s groups in Dominican and Haitian communities.
While doing my Ph.D. at Cornell in Development Sociology, I learned about social movements with a crew of colleagues involved in other movements around the world. My dissertation project was about the popular education strategies of the organizations that support the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Mexico.
Here in Ithaca I work with the Tompkins County Workers Center. Students can get involved through internships and through the Service Learning for Social Justice program which aims to build relationships among community members and students. I am on the board of CUSLAR, the Committee on US-Latin American Relations, through which students can learn about the history and politics of the U.S. in Latin America.
Nationally, I work with the Poverty Initiative, a network of organizations dedicated to building a movement to end poverty led by the poor across color lines. Through the Poverty Initiative, students can learn about this movement, and sometimes take part in mini-immersion and immersion programs. I also have an ongoing connection with Justicia Global, an international socio-political organization founded and based in the Dominican Republic.
I began teaching at Ithaca College in the fall of 2006. I love our students. I’m proud of their enthusiasm and sense of justice. I see my role as facilitating student engagement with efforts for social change locally, nationally and internationally.
I teach courses in the area of Public Sociology:
- Social Change - How has social change taken place in the United States?
- Public Sociology - Learn about sociologists who study the world in order to change it. How do they do what they do?
- Gender, the Environment and Global Change - How do gender and the environment relate, and how do these relationships change? Study the social and ecological relations of patriarchy, colonialism, industrialization, development and globalization.
- Social Movements - How do people demand rights, stop wars, stop global warming, end poverty? Can you imagine that another world is possible?
- Community Organizing - Learn theory and practice for organizing, in class and in the community
- Global Sociology - How do regular people relate to big, global processes, like colonialism, development and globalization?
- Research Methods - How do sociologists study the social world around us? Quantitative and qualitative approaches.
- Culture and Society: An International Field Experience - Travel to the Dominican Republic, learn from grassroots organizations about how people make change, come home and put your knowledge to work.
- Applications for the Spring semester course (Sociology 312) to travel to the Dominican Republic are usually due in late October for the following Spring.
- Read blog posts from prior students: http://soci312.blogspot.com/
Here's the research I do:
- I am involved in ongoing Action Research about political education strategies of social movements in Latin America and the United States. I'm especially interested in movements about rights: workers' rights, economic rights, indigenous rights, environmental justice and human rights. Overall, I'm interested in the ways that social movements promote alternative forms of development. Read more here: Contesting Development: Critical Struggles for Social Change.
- One branch of my research focuses on the Zapatista movement. Here's an article about Neo-Zapatista Network Politics.
- I study U.S.-Latin American relations, focusing on political economy and (im)migration. I wrote a book with Ron Mize (Cornell University) called Consuming Mexican Labor: From the Bracero Program to NAFTA, which was recently published by University of Toronto Press. Here's a video of a talk Ron Mize and I gave at Mann Library at Cornell University in April 2011. Here's an article we wrote in Latin American Perspectives about the relationship between tourism and development.
- I'm part of the Food Dignity Project, an effort to map paths for creating community food systems that foster food security.
- I employ Community-Based Learning and Service-Learning in some of my teaching. Here's an article I co-wrote with Richard Kiely (Cornell University) about Movement-Centered Service-Learning.