Welcome to the Winter 2018 edition of Masterly Musings!
In this issue we feature School of IAS faculty member Chris Beasley, and learn more about his groundbreaking research with formerly incarcerated individuals and their quest to further their education. Also, MAIS alum Corrie Hulse tells us about her newly-released book, and reflects on her time in the MAIS program. In a slight twist of fate, we have an update about the MAIS Top Scholar Award, and how two students are recognized for this honor. Since it’s the season for funding and scholarships, we have an update about our two annual awards, which are the Carol Van Natta Scholarship and the MAIS Graduate Research Scholarship. Finally, the Graduate Liberal Studies Symposium will be held at Stanford this year, and we’ll have updated information about this event in our June edition. Until then, please read on, and discover what’s been happening with the MAIS program this quarter.
MAIS Faculty Spotlight: Chris Beasley
Assistant Professor Chris Beasley joins MAIS this year as the new division representative for Social, Behavioral, and Human Sciences and an incoming faculty mentor for Rebecca Ring. He has an A.A.S. in Psychology from Lincoln Trail College, a B.A.S. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Roosevelt University, and a Ph.D. in Community Psychology from DePaul University. As a community psychologist, Dr. Beasley conducts community-engaged applied research to strengthen communities while participating in grassroots organizing to support such settings and helping students develop the capacity for this work.
Chris is the principal investigator for the Post-Prison Education Research Lab (PERL), which seeks to better understand factors affecting prison to college transitions. He uses a collaborative model of inquiry called Community-Based Participatory Action Research. It is community-based in that it takes place in the community rather than in controlled settings that are controlled but artificial. In a sense, the community is the lab. This word is participatory in that it people closest to problems and opportunities are closely involved in the research process. For PERL, this is done through a community advisory board of community members and service provides involved in the prison-to-college transition process. The PERL community advisory board includes formerly incarcerated students and graduates, representatives from the WA State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, the WA Student Achievement council, the WA Department of Corrections, the WA Workforce Development Council, colleges and universities in Pierce County, and the social service sector. The research is action-oriented in that it is intended to answer questions most salient to communities of practice and, thus, provide scholarly insight into their development.
Chris has been leading UWT’s effort to build a Husky Post-Prison Pipeline. This work aims to address inequity related to higher education for formerly incarcerated people. Many universities like UWT prioritize access to education, particularly for those who have historically lacked such access. While universities have made considerable improvements to access for many marginalized groups, others such as formerly incarcerated people appear to be substantially underrepresented at institutions like UWT. In fact, even though about 3% of Americans have been to prison, Chris estimates that only 0.2% of UWT students have been to prison. Chris has created a Husky Post-Prison Pipeline advisory council to guide UWT’s efforts to address this disparity. The council is comprised of formerly incarcerated students and graduates, half of whom are UWT students and alumni. Chris is currently assembling a Husky Post-Prison Pipeline steering committee comprised of UWT administrators who will create the program in coordination with the advisory council. He is also beginning to create an informal network of UWT faculty to provide support for this work. While supports are being developed, the UWT admissions and advising offices as well as students from the newly-formed UWT Collaborative Association for Reintegration and Education student group are providing support to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated applicants.
Chris is also a board director for Civil Survival–a nonprofit organization developing the civic capacity of people impacted by the justice system. Civil Survival organizes justice-involved people to build connections, gain knowledge, increase political participation, and effect policy changes in order to break cycles of incarceration and deepen community liberation. The non-partisan organization does this through statewide “Game Changer” groups that train people how to talk about the ways they’ve been impacted by the justice system as well as how to become involved in the legislative and political processes. Civil Survival board members instrumental in drafting and passage of the Fair Chance to Education Act, which restricts the use of criminal history in college admissions–a “ban the box” for college. You can see Chris’ testimony on this bill here.
Lastly, Chris is a co-founder of the national Formerly Incarcerated College Graduates Network. FICGN is a network of college graduates who have been to prison. It includes people from varied educational backgrounds– AA to JD/PhD/EdD as well as careers ranging from staff members to State and Federal Administrators, Executive Directors, Attorneys, Professors, and a College President. It envisions a society in which formerly incarcerated people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and offense types pursue their dreams as educated and empowered citizens with valued experiences. We see a world in which we have the rights and opportunities needed to make important contributions to our communities and beyond. FICGN’s mission is to promote the education and empowerment of formerly incarcerated people through a collective community. It does so by (1) strengthening social networks of formerly incarcerated people, creating spaces for formerly incarcerated people to share and discuss ideas, changing social perceptions of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, changing incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people’s views of themselves, promoting and supporting prison and post-prison education, demonstrating the value of our lived experience, and advocating for criminal justice policy change.
As a formerly incarcerated scholar, Chris’ research, action, and teaching are informed by multiple ways of knowing. He always looks forward to connecting with formerly incarcerated students and graduates as well as others who are committed to better understanding the prison-to-college transition process and addressing this substantial inquiry. To learn more about Chris’ work or connect, send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit PrisonToCollege.org.
Alumni Spotlight: Corrie Hulse
We recently learned that MAIS alum Corrie Hulse (MAIS Class of 2010 ) was promoting her new book, When We Let People Die, and we contacted her to find out what she’s been doing. She had many positive things to say about the MAIS program, and its influence on her current work:
“I can’t believe it’s been almost 10 years since I first walked onto campus at UW Tacoma. One of my first classes was Dr. Rob Crawford’s War and Culture. This meant I started my grad school experience reading Chris Hedge’s War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and Judith Butler’s Precarious Life. For others in the MAIS program these might have just been interesting reads, but for me, these books were building what would become a lifelong passion.
Eventually, I found myself in Dr. Michael Forman’s class, reading Immanuel Kant, Thomas Hobbes, and of course a little Niccolo Machiavelli. It was here that I gained a deeper understanding of the foundations of political thought and also challenged the political inclinations I already possessed. Dr. Forman encouraged a handful of us from his class to attend a summer peace operations conference called CERIUM in Montreal. This conference ended up being a major turning point for my educational and professional journey. It was at this conference that I was introduced to the Responsibility to Protect, which would become the focus of my master’s thesis, the catalyst for much of my writing post grad school, and ultimately the topic of the essay collection I recently published, When We Let People Die.
Thinking back, I could have gone to a graduate program specifically focused on international affairs; there are many of them. UW Seattle has quite a good program, for that matter. But I have always been drawn to interdisciplinary work, and something about the MAIS program at UWT just intrigued me, and I remain glad I made the choice to attend.
Today, I am the Managing Editor of The Mantle, an online magazine and publishing imprint that publishes emerging voices from around the world. Somehow I managed to make my editing interdisciplinary as well, as I spend my days editing articles on everything from Epicurus, to Blaxploitation in superhero movies, to questions of how to prosecute the women of ISIS. I often joke that editing is like getting a second master’s degree as I learn so much from my writers. My time in the MAIS program at UWT most definitely expanded my ability to work within multiple disciplines, and encouraged me to follow my curiosities wherever they happen to lead.
These days, beyond my editing work you can find me teaching writing at a local CUNY community college, and volunteering with an organization I love called iACT that brings soccer academies and preschools to refugee camps. I’m still so thankful for my time at UW Tacoma, the great cohort of classmates I graduated with that still encourage and inspire me, and the professors such as Dr. Forman who even today continue to push me in my academic and professional pursuits.”
MAIS Top Scholar(s)
Jordan Woolston Alyssa Urish
In our last edition of Masterly Musings we reported that Jordan Woolston was the winner of our first ever MAIS Top Scholar. As timing would have it, Jordan was fortunate to also receive a graduate appointment in Seattle this year. We are thrilled to announce that we were able to provide our runner-up Alyssa Urish with the tuition award. We’re very lucky to have such inspiring students who are so deserving of these awards. Jordan’s practicum examines Native American history and nonprofits and is supervised by Ruth Bernstein (SHS) and Michelle Montgomery (SHS). Alyssa’s thesis focuses on diversity and education and is supervised by Rachel Herschberg (SBHS) and Chris Knaus (School of Education). Congratulations to Alyssa and Jordan; we’re very proud of both of you!
Scholarships and Funding
In February we had two opportunities to fund students for conference travel and resources to support students here in the MAIS program. The Carol Van Natta Scholarship was created to assist graduate students in participating in conferences and gaining access to special opportunities that are important elements of the research and scholarship experiences that characterize graduate study. This year we had some extra money for the Van Natta Scholarship so we’re able to pass the surplus funding along to our students. Additionally, the MAIS Scholarship provides MAIS students with awards for three students of $500 each to attend the West Coast Graduate Liberal Studies Symposium where they will present their research. We’ll announce our winners for both of these esteemed awards in the Spring 2018 version of Masterly Musings.
West Coast Graduate Liberal Studies Symposium
MAIS students and alumni are invited to participate in the West Coast Graduate Liberal Studies Symposium, hosted by Stanford University, June 22-24. The twelfth annual Graduate Liberal Studies Symposium continues the tradition started by Stanford University and Dominican University of California in 2007 of developing our broader academic community through a weekend of intellectual exchange and conversation. This interdisciplinary Symposium provides the opportunity for students and alumni to present papers to an audience of their peers, to participate in lively discussions, and to meet fellow GLS students from other schools. All students, alumni and faculty from our universities are welcome to attend the Symposium. Last year UW Tacoma hosted this event and it was a terrific success, with participants from seven different universities and colleges. This year we have several students that have submitted proposals for this Symposium, and we’ll announce the attendees who were accepted to present their research in our next edition of Masterly Musings. Stay tuned!