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Western Kentucky University

Social Justice Speaker Series



Institute for Citizenship & Social Responsibility

1906 College Heights Blvd #71084
Bowling Green, KY 42101

270 745-3218


Tate Page Hall 110

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Stay tuned for the Spring 2015 Speaker Series


Spring 2014 Speaker Series

Social Justice Speakers

Dr. Judah Schept


Dr. Judah Schept

Assistant Professor, School of Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University

Presentation Title: "Carceral Expansion, Community Organizing, and Critical Prison Studies: Intersections of Social Justice Scholarship, Teaching and Activism"

Presentation Details: February 13, 2014, 4:00-5:30 pm, Faculty House

Judah Schept is an Assistant Professor of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University. He holds a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Indiana University and a BA in Sociology from Vassar College. Judah's book, tentatively titled Left and Locking Up: Capital Departures, (Neo) Liberal Politics, and Carceral Expansion, is forthcoming in 2015 from New York University Press. Judah has published and forthcoming articles in journals such as Radical Criminology, Theoretical Criminology, Social Justice, and the Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture. In addition, Judah has published numerous pieces of public scholarship on issues of prison expansion, alternatives to incarceration, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the Reclaiming Justice Network, based out of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies in the United Kingdom, and for the newly formed critical social justice collective Uprooting Criminology.

Judah is a scholar-activist whose community organizing informs his research and teaching. Judah practices a critical interdisciplinary scholarship drawing from diverse academic literatures including American studies, critical and cultural criminology, cultural anthropology, cultural and political geography, the sociology of punishment, and postcolonial studies. Judah is particularly interested in the political economies, geographical histories, and cultural politics of various sites of the prison industrial complex. He currently has two major research projects. One, on which his book is based, examines the discourse and politics of jail growth and resistance to it in a small and progressive Midwestern city. The second is an ongoing examination of carceral expansion in eastern Kentucky, focusing especially on the spatial, political-economic and cultural continuities between coal and prison. At EKU, Judah teaches undergraduate courses in Law and Society and Criminological Theory and a graduate course in Qualitative Methods. Judah co-coordinated the development of a new Social Justice Studies major and is also the new coordinator for the undergraduate internship program.

Find out more about Dr. Schept by visiting at the Eastern Kentucky University website.

Dr. Nirmala Erevelles


Dr. Nirmala Erevelles

Professor, Social and Cultural Studies in Education, University of Alabama

Presentation Title: "Thinking with Disability Studies/Teaching for Transformation"

Presentation Details: March 27, 2014, 4:00-5:30 pm, Faculty House

Nirmala Erevelles is Professor of Social and Cultural Studies in Education at the University of Alabama. Her teaching and research interests lie in the areas of disability studies, critical race theory, transnational feminism, sociology of education, and postcolonial studies. Specifically, her research focuses on the unruly, messy, unpredictable and taboo body – a habitual outcast in educational (and social) contexts. Erevelles asks: Why do some bodies matter more than others? In raising this question "why," the tenor of her scholarship shifts from description to explanation to highlight the implications exploitative social/economic arrangements have for making bodies matter (or not) in particular historical and material contexts. Erevelles argues that disability as a central critical analytic can have transformative potential in addressing issues as varied as inclusive schooling, critical/radical pedagogies/curricula, HIV/AIDS education, facilitated communication, school violence, multicultural education, and the sex curriculum. Her insistence on an intersectional analysis foregrounds the dialectical relationship between disability and the other constructs of difference, namely race, class, gender, and sexuality and its brutal implications for (disabled) students in U. S. public schools and (disabled) citizens in transnational contexts. Additionally, transforming her theoretical leanings to committed praxis, she deploys the lens of disability studies to urge her students to think harder, deeper, and more courageously outside the confines of normative modes of education and social theory that only seek to discipline bodies rather than empower them

Erevelles has published articles in the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Theory, Studies in Education and Philosophy, the Journal of Curriculum Studies, Teachers College Record, Disability & Society, Disability Studies Quarterly, & the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, among others.  Her book, Disability and Difference in Global Contexts: Towards a Transformative Body Politic was published by Palgrave in November 2012.

Find out more about Dr. Erevelles by visiting at the University of Alabama website.

Dr. Rhonda Williams


Dr. Rhonda Williams

Founder & Director, Social Justice Institute, Case Western Reserve University

Presentation Title: "Expanding Classrooms: Pedagogy at the Social Justice Crossroad"

Presentation Details: April 24, 2014, 4:00-5:30 pm, Faculty House

Dr. Rhonda Y. Williams, an associate professor of History in the College of Arts and Sciences at CWRU, completed her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania under the stewardship of Dr. Mary Frances Berry. Dr. Rhonda, as many call her, is the founding director of CWRU's Social Justice Institute; the founder and director of CWRU's Postdoctoral Fellowship in African American Studies; and the author of the award-winning The Politics of Public Housing: Black Women's Struggles against Urban Inequality (2004). In April 2009, she was awarded CWRU's inaugural Inclusion and Diversity Achievement Award.

Williams has worked to broker understanding of issues regarding marginalization, inequalities, and activism. She has delivered community presentations to the Congressional Emerson Hunger Fellows on the history of institutional racism and given numerous lectures, including at the Smithsonian Institution and the Woodrow Wilson Center in D.C.

As an educator and scholar-activist, Dr. Rhonda is committed to critically assessing and exposing the entrenched systems of inequality and the enactment of social justice. In articulating her teaching philosophy for her "City As Classroom" – which is taught off campus and requires students to engage in social activism – Dr. Rhonda says the following: "It is my belief that the practice of history should be part of a broader liberation project—one that arms students and scholars with the necessary analytical tools and information to combat social, cultural, and political myths and to address historical and contemporary issues." Currently, the Social Justice Institute is engaged in its inaugural community-based collaborative initiative, the "Voicing and Action Project," which is focused on documenting the life narratives of East Clevelanders to help identify and advance community priorities through the power of storytelling, conversation, voice and visioning, and active community engagement.

Dr. Rhonda is also an active scholar. She is the author of numerous articles including "The Pursuit of Audacious Power: Rebel Reformers and Neighborhood Politics in Baltimore, 1966-1968," in Neighborhood Rebels: Black Power at the Local Level, and "'To Challenge the Status Quo by Any Means': Community Action and Representational Politics in 1960s Baltimore," in The War on Poverty: A New Grassroots History. She is the co-editor of Women, Transnationalism, and Human Rights, a Special Issue of the Radical History Review (2008) and Teaching the American Civil Rights Movement (2002). Currently, she is working on a book titled Concrete Demands on black power in the 20th century (Routledge University Press), and is co-editor of the Justice, Power, and Politics series with University of North Carolina Press.

Find out more about Dr. Williams by visiting the Case Western Reserve University website.

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 Last Modified 10/23/14