Brookings Blog, (EDLR’s Shaun Dougherty Co-Authors Piece on Math Coursework)
The fight for equality in sport takes place everywhere. Right here at the University of Connecticut, Laura Burton, an associate professor in the Neag School of Education and one of the co-heads of the Sport Management program, is doing her part.
A former athlete and NCAA Division III Athletic Trainer, Burton returned to her native Nutmeg state to complete her education here at UConn and since then has dedicated her work in large part to research about the roles of gender in sports. She also served as a faculty member at North Carolina State University.
“Because I lived it. I was always the kid who felt like the girls weren’t getting fair gym time in high school or we didn’t have equal uniforms...” Burton said on what inspired her to get into this line of research. “I knew I wanted to study something I had experienced.”
As a professional some of her earlier work focused on how athletics benefited women, now she has a more concise focus, women in leadership positions.
“There are very few women in leadership positions in sports organizations across all domains, from interscholastic, intercollegiate, professional or international sport, women are really underrepresented in leadership.” Burton said.
The discrepancy has no logical basis either.
“Think, half your participant population is women, or girls, why don’t we have an equal number of people at the leadership table?”
Burton, and her peers in the field, find it to be due to our perceptions on who should be in those roles which hurts women.
She says, “We don’t perceive women to be capable of and/or do we want them in leadership positions in general. In sport organizations, because we think it’s a real male domain, we don’t think that women can run a football program or an athletic department. There’s a lot of stereotyping that's influencing women, both trying to get into those positions and how we evaluate them when they’re in it.”
However, women in leadership roles is where UConn first gets accolades from Burton when it comes to women in sports here in Storrs.
“Beth Goetz (the Chief Operating Officer of UConn Athletics) is not only a women in leadership but the types of roles she has are really important,” Burton notes.
“She’s in charge of football. That is critical for her to continue to be successful. To be an Athletic Director, you need to have demonstrated you can handle what is the largest team with the greatest amount of operating expenses, and the greatest opportunity for revenue generation,” she said.
David Benedict’s willingness to put her in such a vital role signals to Goetz, and the intercollegiate athletic community, that she will be an AD one day. It’s an opportunity not often provided to women and Burton credits Benedict for the initiative, believing it will help propel Goetz to her higher career goals.
However that doesn’t mean UConn is doing everything right.
“I call them on the carpet for not having as many women coaching women’s sports. I think we have arguably the best coach in the women’s (basketball) game and I think he (Geno Auriemma) does an excellent job supporting assistant coaches but I think he made a mistake a couple weeks ago when he said there aren’t enough women interested in coaching.”
Says Burton, “I think that’s patently false. There are a lot of women interested in coaching, but there are a lot of constraints put on women that want positions in coaching. You don’t see a lot of women lose jobs and get re-hired and it's a real problem.”
“I’d like to see UConn seek more women’s coaching on the women’s side and it’d be wonderful to see women coaching on the men’s side... I think our support for our women athletes is phenomenal but I also think there’s always places to provide more resources and more equity,” she said.
The problems that face UConn are representative of problems across women’s sports as a whole however. When it comes to improvement, nearly everyone makes the list.
According to Burton, “Who's doing well? Not many. There are few organizations that really do well, the one that comes to mind and it’s probably not going to be a surprise, is the WNBA because they do have women in leadership positions.”
“But it’s the one professional sport organization in the US that’s at the highest profile for women. The rest, honestly I don’t think are doing well at all. I don’t think any of the major men’s professional sport organizations are and I think intercollegiate athletics are doing terrible.”
The number of women leading FBS schools, school that play the highest level of football and subsequently often have the largest athletic departments, is less than 10 percent.
The number of women coaching in women’s sports is declining year after year. And there’s no balancing effect, because while more men become coaches of women's sports, there are really no women becoming coaches in men's sports.
Burton points to The Institute for Ethics and Diversity in Sport (TIDES), as a great evaluator of this. Under the the Direction of Dr. Richard Lapchick from the University of Central Sport, they annually release “Report Cards” grading the practices and statuses of the major sport leagues as well as the intercollegiate athletic system. According to TIDES, college basketball as a whole has improved in recent years while football at all levels continues to score miserably.
“I think the whole industry still needs to look and see ‘Why are there so few women?’” said Burton.
One of the biggest areas of momentum in the movement for equality was the recent protest from the US Women’s National Team for both hockey and soccer.
“It speaks to a bigger problem that they had to go to that extent, where they had to threaten to not participate, to get the governing body of their sport to then negotiate for a contract,” Burton said on the issue. “There should’ve been a recognition that actually these women are playing at the highest level and representing our country extremely well, they’re champions, they’re medalists, they’re contenders, why did it take (threatening to boycott) to get equal pay?”
Burton thinks as a whole this could be the next big thing for women who want their fair share.
“I suspect that this is going to unleash for a lot of our national teams. I wonder if some of our team-based sports are going to look across at their male counterparts and wonder why they aren’t being provided equal resources,” Burton said.
What else is next?
“I continue to support and hope we will see equal pay for our men’s and women’s coaches. That’s a problem when you look across comparable sports. That’s an area where people are starting to pay more attention,” Burton said.
Coaching is an issue Burton holds in importance.
“I hope people are starting to pay more attention to why we’re losing so many women in sports. My colleague Nicole Lavoi from the Tucker Center for Girls and Women in Sport is documenting what has become a pretty significant decline in women coaching in sport at the college level. This isn’t good, we shouldn’t be losing women as coaches, but rather be fostering and supporting young women who want to be coaches.”
Burton is committed to this for the long haul.
“I’m going to stay in this because I still think there’s more work to be done,” she said. “There’s lots of science that says gender stereotypes influence how comfortable we are with women. We haven’t fully fleshed out how that’s influencing women in sport organizations and I’d like to continue to really explore that.”
While women deserve equality in all domains, and will continue to push for what is rightfully theirs, in the world of sports it's going to be a process. With all issues of that comes to basic rights, there’s always going to be individual or group feats of activism and those who promote change and those who prohibit it. While all this unfolds, the work of Burton, and the increased exposure, should make us all more conscientious as fans of sport.
View this story as it originally appeared on The Daily Campus' website.
The Conversation (EDLR’s Preston Green compares corporate fraud of Enron to fraud with charter schools in this featured article)
Norwich Bulletin (Sport Management major Rachel Hill to join National Women’s Soccer League following graduation)
The Harvard Crimson (Laura Burton, associate professor of sport management, quoted)
In our recurring 10 Questions series, the Neag School catches up with students, alumni, faculty, and others throughout the year to give you a glimpse into their Neag School experience and their current career, research, or community activities.
UConn women’s ice hockey forward Marisa Maccario ’18 (ED), a native of Marblehead, Mass., has been playing on a hockey team since the age of 5. Currently a sport management major in the Neag School, Maccario created a video this past fall for what she describes as her favorite class at UConn: Sport in Society, led by assistant professor Joseph Cooper. The video she co-produced has since been featured on youcanplayproject.org, an initiative dedicated to ensuring equality, respect, and safety for all those who participate in sports, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Here, Maccario talks about her experience as a student-athlete, about the video project, and more.
What kind of time commitment does the ice hockey training and traveling schedule demand? How do you balance that with coursework and free time? The ice hockey season sits between both the fall and spring semesters, so our school year is very busy. We get started within the very first weeks of school and go all the way until March. We are on campus training over Thanksgiving, most of Christmas break, and sometimes spring break.
Once classes start back up, most of our team manages time very well with classes in the morning, a break in the afternoon for hockey, and classes at night. Mostly after classes is when we have study hall, tutors, and time to get all of our work done for the weeks ahead. The good part about the league we are in (Hockey East) is that all the schools are relatively close (for example, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, Providence, University of Vermont, and University of Maine). Seeing that we play schools that are close by, we are able to do day trips and do not have to travel Thursday through Sunday. Instead, we do day trips, which in turn helps our study schedule.
“Never use a busy schedule as an excuse. You can always make time to do something you love. Here at UConn, they give the option to play a sport you love — and enter into a very competitive program that will help you be successful once your sport it over.”
What made you decide to major in sport management? It just felt right. I can never see myself leaving the sports world. Seeing that I have been an athlete my whole life and got the chance to further my athletic commitment into college, once I am done competing, I want to be able to see what goes on behind the scenes — [something] that, typically, athletes don’t get a chance to see. I want to be part of someone else’s experience, not as a teammate or a competitor.
What about the sport management program at the Neag School have you found most valuable so far? Sport management not only is in a field related to sports, but it’s also in a school that has an educational leadership program. … Having a sport management program in the same school as educational leadership, for example, shows how leadership is important not only on the field or ice, but also in the classroom.
Tell me about the video project you created for Joseph Cooper’s Sport in Society course last semester. The guidelines were very open to whatever you wanted: pictures, PowerPoints, paintings, or videos. You just needed to talk about how society impacts sports and what you have learned throughout the semester.
We decided to put together this video in particular because we thought that not only was it a topic we talked about in class, but also something that impacts athletics at UConn greatly. We are a campus and athletic culture that accepts everyone and anyone for who they are, and not what society tells them to be. Student-athletes need to show their openness in these matters to make sure they and their teammates feel comfortable competing for a school that doesn’t care about your gender, race, or sexual orientation. If you can play the sport, that’s all that matters!
In your own words, why is inclusiveness in sports so important? With a sport like ice hockey, you have six players on the ice at a time: one in the net and five skaters. To be a team, you need to have skills from each player to win and, with hockey, everyone brings something different. If we didn’t have inclusiveness in sports, we wouldn’t have teams; we would have individuals playing sports.
The whole point of sports is to win, and with winning comes a group effort. You need to have different abilities with the same goal in mind. You need to be able to have open arms to new people because you never know who will be leading you to a national championship. If you can play, you can play. It shouldn’t matter about anything else as long as you want to win.
How can coaches and teammates ensure that the team they lead or play on is as inclusive as possible? I think the best attitude that any player or coach can have is to look at work ethic, skills, and technique because that’s what makes an athlete an athlete. I believe at UConn we have a lot of student-athletes and coaches that judge off those rules and nothing else. … We bring each other up. Positive attitude and inclusiveness are key especially on our team, because your team is your family away from home. With 500+ athletes at a top university, everyone has to be on the same page and know that discrimination is something that doesn’t mix well with a winning culture. So that is left at the door the second you set foot on our campus.
What kind of reaction have you received from those who have seen the video? I have experienced a lot of positive feedback from the video — way more than I thought. I had someone tell me that when they attended the university, an article was released stating that UConn was ranked by the Princeton Review as No. 12 among the 20 most homophobic campuses in the country. Today, we have a video stating that we support our teammates that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. How times have changed — and will continue to change for the better. When doing this video we, the UConn student-athletes, pledged to keep our campus safe for all, and I think that, in itself, has touched a lot of people, both current and alumni student-athletes.
What’s your advice for those students who may be interested in checking out either the Neag School’s sport management program — or the sport of ice hockey? Never be afraid to do too much. By this I mean: Do everything you want to do and more. Never use a busy schedule as an excuse. You can always make time to do something you love. Here at UConn, they give the option to play a sport you love — and enter into a very competitive program that will help you be successful once your sport it over.
Always ask questions because you never know who you might be talking to and where they can lead you in the future. That’s what is great about the sport management program; the professors are great connections for down the road when you’re looking for jobs.
What’s your favorite spot on campus? My favorite spot on campus would have to be the rink, not only because I spend most of my time there on and off the ice, but also because it is home. The rink is not just for hockey, but a safe place where I can always go when I’m stressed and have a lot of work.
What’s something most people don’t know about you? I am second-generation Italian- American; my grandmother was a refugee during War World ll and traveled to America.
The Daily Campus (As part of Neag School’s CEPA Speaker Series, Dr. Ana M. Martínez Alemán from Boston College spoke about biases in the classroom)
The Neag School of Education honored more than 100 of its students last night at its Annual Scholarship Awards Ceremony.
Formerly known as the Honors Day Celebration, the event — held at the Jorgensen Center for Performing Arts on the UConn Storrs campus — brought together current students receiving Neag School-affiliated scholarships in the coming academic year; their guests; and the donors whose contributions to the Neag School make these sources of financial support possible.
Support for scholarships comes from numerous sources, including Neag School benefactors Ray and Carole Neag; Neag School and UConn alumni; current University faculty and administrators; and families of former Neag School staff and alumni, among others.
During the reception preceding the formal ceremony, student recipients had an opportunity to connect personally with the donors responsible for providing their scholarship support.
Student scholarships were awarded in the following departments or categories: Teacher Education; the Department of Curriculum and Instruction; the Department of Educational Leadership; the Department of Educational Psychology; and School-wide Scholarships.
In addition to the student awards, Erin McGurk, director of educational services for Ellington (Conn.) Public Schools, received the UCEA Educational Leadership Award.
UCEA EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP AWARD
The University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) is a membership association of higher education institutions that promotes excellence in continuing higher education. This award is in recognition of practicing school administrators who have made significant contributions to the improvement of administrator preparation.
Erin McGurk, Director of Educational Services, Ellington Public Schools
TEACHER EDUCATION SCHOLARSHIPS
Friends & Colleagues of Francis X. Archambault Jr. Fellowship
Established by friends and colleagues to honor Dr. Francis X. Archambault, professor emeritus. This scholarship provides support to a Ph.D. candidate in the field of measurement, evaluation and assessment, who demonstrates academic excellence.
Established by Carmen Effron in memory of her father, Kenneth Arminio. This scholarship is awarded to students with a demonstrated interest in teaching as a profession and with a proven track record of academic excellence.
Joseph Leslie Jr.
Fuller Scholarship for Social Justice in Education
This scholarship was established by Ms. Katie G. Fuller to provide scholarship support for University students enrolled in the Neag School of Education’s Integrated Bachelor’s/Master’s Program, with priority consideration to students who are also enrolled in the University’s Stamps Leadership Scholars Program.
The Herbert and Sarah M. Gibor Charitable Foundation Scholarship
This scholarship provides financial support for students enrolled in the University’s Neag School of Education and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The recipient must demonstrate an interest in teaching as a profession and have a proven track record of academic excellence.
Robert H. Hart Fellowship
This fellowship was established in memory of Dr. Ronald P. Hart’s father and UConn alumnus, Robert H. Hart, in order to provide financial support for students enrolled in UConn’s Neag School of Education with priority consideration given to those who are from, student teach or plan to teach in Meriden, Conn.
Lodewick TNE Alumni Scholarship
Established by Philip H. and Christine Lodewick. This scholarship provides support for students enrolled in the IB/M program with a demonstrated intention to pursue a career as a K-12 teacher.
Ora Lee Morrison Scholarship
Established by Michael and Monique Watson in memory of Ora Lee Morrison. This scholarship provides support to students enrolled in the IB/M or TCPCG program with a demonstrated interest in teaching as a profession.
Paula Riggi Singer Endowed Scholarship
This scholarship was established by Ms. Paula R. Singer to provide scholarship support for University students enrolled in the Neag School of Education, with priority consideration to those students who are also enrolled in the University’s Honors Program.
DEPARTMENT OF CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION SCHOLARSHIPS
Andrews International Education Award
The fund was established by Dr. Frank Andrews Stone in honor of his mother, Ruth, and her five siblings, originally of Pasadena, Calif., whose careers demonstrated concern for international awareness and understanding.
David Blick Science Education Award
In recognition and encouragement of innovative and/or collaborative efforts in science education, this award is given to a Neag School student, faculty member, alumnus/alumna of the School, or a member of the faculty of another School or College of the University.
Dr. Catherine Koehler
The Betty Bussman Education Fund
This scholarship was established through the generosity of Mrs. Betty Bussman and is awarded to undergraduate or graduate students who are planning careers in elementary education. The award is based on financial need, academic excellence, and a demonstrated interest in and concern for the needs of children.
Thomas & Francine DeFranco Scholarship
This scholarship was established by Thomas, professor and former Dean of the Neag School, and his wife Francine, Associate University Librarian, to provide support to an academically outstanding incoming or continuing student enrolled full time in the IB/M program, with priority consideration given to a math education major.
Degnan Family Scholarship
This scholarship was established by James and Elizabeth Degnan to provide support to an academically outstanding incoming or continuing undergraduate student enrolled full time in the IB/M program, with priority consideration given to a resident of the State of Connecticut.
Shannon Leigh Closter Driscoll Memorial Scholarship
This scholarship was established in memory of Shannon Leigh Closter Driscoll, an alumna of the Neag School of Education, by her family and friends. This scholarship is based on financial need, academic achievement, and a demonstrated interest in gifted and talented education.
Eva Eaton Scholarship in Elementary Education
This scholarship, established in honor of Eva Eaton by her family, is based on financial need, academic achievement, and is given to students pursuing a major in elementary education.
Marjory C. Gelfenbien Scholarship
This scholarship was established by Roger Gelfenbien, former UConn Board of Trustees Chairman to honor his wife, Marjory C. Gelfenbien. It is awarded based on academic excellence and outstanding achievement in the areas of teacher education and educational leadership.
George C. and Jane F. Goodale Memorial Scholarship
Established in Jane Goodale’s memory by her husband, George, and her family. This permanently endowed fund is designated for outstanding graduate students in educational anthropology.
Hamilton Sundstrand Challenger 7 Science Education Scholarship
Hamilton Sundstrand employees established this award in memory of the Challenger 7 astronauts. It is designated for students in elementary and secondary science education. Among the criteria considered are past academic achievement and demonstration of potential for future academic and professional accomplishments.
Neag Math and Science Scholarship
Established by Dr. Philip E. Austin, president emeritus. This scholarship provides financial support to a student enrolled in the Neag School who is pursuing a degree in education with a focus on either Math or Science.
Judith A. Meagher Undergraduate Scholarship
Established by the Beta Sigma Chapter of Pi Lambda Theta Honor Society as a tribute to the many contributions and leadership of Judith Meagher, professor emeritus and former Associate Dean of the Neag School.
Joseph Leslie Jr.
Daniel Thomas Perley Scholarship
Established in memory of Daniel Thomas Perley by his wife, this scholarship is awarded to incoming fifth-year students in the IB/M Program who have demonstrated academic achievement in the area of elementary education.
Philo T. Pritzkau Scholarship
Established to provide an award to outstanding minority Neag School graduate students who have shown exemplary scholarship and leadership in research and teaching. This award was established by the students and friends of Dr. Philo T. Pritzkau, professor emeritus of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction.
Sidney Skolnick Scholarship
Established through the generosity of Dr. Sidney Skolnick, this scholarship is awarded annually to Neag School students based on financial need and academic excellence.
Thomas P. Weinland Scholarship
Established by students, colleagues, and family to honor Dr. Thomas P. Weinland, professor emeritus of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, this scholarship is awarded to a deserving student who is preparing to teach secondary history and social studies.
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP SCHOLARSHIPS
Earle G. Bidwell Educational Leadership Scholarship
This scholarship was established by a cohort of Earle G. Bidwell to provide scholarship support for a graduate student, with priority consideration given to a University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP) student.
Peter J. Nicholls Scholarship in Educational Leadership
This scholarship was established by friends, family, and colleagues of Dr. Peter J. Nicholls, former Provost of the University of Connecticut. This scholarship provides support to a graduate student(s) enrolled in the Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) program.
Karen L. Parizeau Memorial Scholarship
Established to honor the memory and work of Karen Parizeau, a beloved teacher, this scholarship was created by donations from her husband, Philip, their children, Lauren and Philip, and her friends and colleagues. It is intended for experienced teachers pursuing careers in education administration, particularly at the middle-school level.
The Steven J. Smith Scholarship
This scholarship has been established in honor of Dr. Steven J. Smith, UConn alumnus and retired Assistant Dean from the Neag School of Education, to support students enrolled in the Neag School’s Department of Educational Leadership with demonstrated academic achievement and an interest or association with athletics.
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY SCHOLARSHIPS
Vernon and Elizabeth Brown Family Scholarship
Made possible by a generous gift from Vernon and Elizabeth Brown, this award is designated for graduate students of the Department of Educational Psychology.
Robert K. Gable Scholarship
Made possible by a gift from Dr. Robert K. Gable, professor emeritus, this scholarship is designated for a graduate student in the Department of Educational Psychology who is enrolled in the Measurement, Evaluation, and Assessment Program.
Raymond and Augusta Gerberich Scholarship
In memory of J. Raymond Gerberich, professor emeritus, and his wife, Augusta, this award is presented to doctoral students in the foundation areas (educational psychology, educational evaluation and measurement, statistical methods, or educational philosophy). Basis for this award includes superior academic achievement and financial need.
Lisa Pappanikou Glidden Scholarship
Established in memory of former Neag School staff member Lisa Pappanikou Glidden – and, more recently, in memory of her parents, Lucette Pappanikou and Dr. A.J. Pappanikou, professor emeritus – this fund is intended to enhance the field of special education by providing financial support for graduate students engaged in the study of educating and/or training special-needs youngsters with severe and profound disabilities.
Vivienne Dean Litt Memorial Scholarship
Established in memory of Vivienne Dean Litt, former Assistant Director of the University Program for Learning Disabilities, by her sons, Martin and Matthew Litt, and her colleagues and friends, this award is designed to promote and encourage the success of a student whose interests and character continue Vivienne’s spirit and professional work with children and/or adults with special needs.
Jessie Carew Moreland Endowment Scholarship
This scholarship was established by Wallace S. Moreland in memory of his first wife, Jessie Carew Moreland. It is presented to students majoring in Special Education who have demonstrated intellectual curiosity, personal integrity, academic achievement, and a serious interest in pursuing a career in the field of developmental disabilities.
Wallace S. Moreland Memorial Scholarship
Established in memory of Wallace S. Moreland by his four children – Lucy Wistreich, David, Wallace Jr., and John Moreland – this scholarship is presented to graduate students majoring in special education who have worked with persons with developmental disabilities and who demonstrate promise of becoming a leader in the field.
Joseph Renzulli and Sally Reis Renzulli Fund for Graduate Studies in Gifted Education
Made possible by a gift from Drs. Joseph Renzulli and Sally Reis Renzulli, this scholarship provides support to a student pursuing an MA or Ph.D. in gifted education and talent development with demonstrated academic achievement.
Susan Hope Sherman Scholarship
This scholarship is awarded to graduate or undergraduate students majoring in special education, particularly those working with persons with developmental disabilities.
Valerie J. Pichette Scholarship
This scholarship was established with the support of Valerie J. Pichette’s family, friends, colleagues across the Neag School and the larger University, as well as students past and present, in honor of her 30 years of service to the state of Connecticut and will offer financial assistance to students enrolled in the Neag School’s teacher education program.
Gloria A. Murray Scholarship
This scholarship is in memory of Brandon Murray’s grandmother and James Murray’s mother, Gloria A. Murray, and was established to provide scholarship support for University students enrolled in the Neag School of Education.
Juros Scholarship for the Neag School of Education
This scholarship is given to Neag School undergraduate students with demonstrated academic achievement. This scholarship is made possible by the generosity of Thomas S. Juros.
Irene P. and Emanuel A. Makiaris Scholarship in the Neag School of Education
This scholarship is given to Neag School students preparing to be teachers through either the IB/M or TCPCG program. This scholarship is made possible by the generosity of Irene P. and Emanuel A. Makiaris.
Yaoxin and Ethel W. Rong International Education Scholarship
Established in memory of Dr. Yuhang Rong’s grandparents, Yaoxin and Ethel Rong, this scholarship is awarded to a Neag School student with demonstrated academic achievement and an interest in international education.
This scholarship has been established for the purpose of supporting outstanding academic achievement, contribution to the University and the community, and participation in extracurricular activities. Financial support comes from the generous contribution of Raymond and Carole Neag, as well as contributions from the faculty and staff of the Neag School of Education.
Neag School of Education Undergraduate Scholarship
Established thanks to the generosity of numerous faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the Neag School of Education, this scholarship is awarded to undergraduate students who were identified by nomination in their programs as having strong academic performance and having gone above and beyond by contributing significantly to the Neag School.
Neag School of Education Graduate Fellowship
Established thanks to the generosity of numerous faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the Neag School of Education, this scholarship is awarded to a graduate student identified by nomination in his or her program as having a strong academic performance and having gone above and beyond by contributing significantly to the Neag School.
Neag School Veterans Fund Scholarship
This scholarship was established for students who are either U.S. service members or veterans who have served in Afghanistan or Iraq. The funds, which may be used for tuition, course materials, and other educational expenses, are also available to the children of a veteran enrolled in the Neag School.
The mission of TED (technology, entertainment, design) events is to spread ideas that demand to be heard. At UConn, the fourth annual TEDx event is taking place on April 9, and has the theme of “Catalysts in Context.” Joshua Abreu, a second year doctoral student in Educational Leadership and Policy, has been selected as one of the speakers, hoping to be a catalyst himself for change in the criminal justice system.
Abreu has a strong background in criminal justice: he obtained a B.A. and an M.A. in Criminal Justice from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, and has worked as a sworn police officer in New Hampshire and as a social worker in Massachusetts. He is specifically interested in classroom discourse in Criminal Justice programs, and specifically how the identities and backgrounds of the students and instructors shape and influence that discourse.
At the TEDx event, Abreu will be speaking on Critical Criminology, or how criminal justice can be reformed by using Liberal Education: putting students at the center of the learning experience, and by investigating how identity and power can impact criminality and crime control. It was during his time in EDLR that Abreu was introduced to the concept of Liberal Education, by his advisor, Dr. Castillo-Montoya, among others. As a past Criminal Justice student and instructor himself, Abreu has seen how this perspective, our intersecting identities along with the political, economic, and social dynamics can positively influence a student’s development; however, this critical perspective remains limited in Criminal Justice programs.
“The topic is relevant and extremely important,” Abreu says. “The criminal justice system faces serious reform, so it’ll be interesting to hear people’s opinion [at TEDx] on such a polarizing topic.”
TED events are designed for sharing ideas, especially those about how the world can be or needs to be changed. The topic of criminal justice is a critically important one in the United States, and other TED Talks in the past have challenged audiences to consider it before. One, given by a civil rights attorney by Bryan Stevenson, is Abreu’s personal favorite TED Talk. Abreu’s favorite quote from it eloquently describes one of the greatest problems facing the justice system, and is very much in line with Abreu’s own TEDx topic: “We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent. Wealth, not culpability, shapes outcomes. And yet, we seem to be very comfortable.” This complacency with the criminal justice system is part of what Abreu, along with Stevenson, is challenging. Abreu’s talk, well-suited for the theme of catalyzing, engages with very real, very serious, and hopefully very fixable problems with criminal justice and specifically criminal justice education.
TEDxUConn is scheduled for April 9, 2017. If you would like to watch Abreu’s talk live, there will be a live stream on the day of the event. To learn more about TEDxUConn, or to access recorded versions of this year’s talks at a later date, go to tedxuconn.com.