Educational and Professional Experience:
Harvard University History, A.B. cum laude
Rockefeller Traveling Fellowship – Chile’s New Song movement
Boston University - M.Ed. Bilingual Education
Master’s Project: Adult Ed as an Organizing Tool in Immigrant Communities
Boston College: Ph.D. Sociology
Dissertation Advisor: William A. Gamson
Social movements, particularly environmental justice, community and workers’health movements with focus on media coverage.
Harvard School of Public Health: Freirian models of health communication
Co-Director: Movement and Media Research and Action Project (MRAP)
Personal Background and Interests:
Most of my research and practice focuses on the interplay of media and social movements.
After teaching field-based courses for several years at UMASS Boston’s College of Public and Community Service, I undertook a doctorate in sociology with social movement scholar, William Gamson at Boston College. My dissertation (published by South End Press as Prime Time Activism: Media Strategies for Grassroots Organizing, 1991) focused on two marginalized communities that expanded their political power by linking community organizing and communication work. I completed a post-doctorate at Harvard School of Public Health where I returned to an interest from Chile—Freirian methods of integrating public health communications and participatory action research. Here I taught a course on models of organizing for health and began the research that underlies my current interest in popular communication strategies.
Since completing my post-doctorate, I have blended university teaching with extensive participatory action research and community education projects. As Co-Director of the Media Research and Action Project (MRAP), I design and lead participatory action research projects at the interface of communications and social change. Much of my current writing and research explores how to integrate organizing models developed by women in many social locations with participatory communication models emerging in the global south.
Most broadly conceived, I want to track how communication organizing strengthens efforts to establish consistent democracies. By consistent democracy, I mean communities that embrace differences while addressing inequalities of race, class, gender, sexuality, language and/or nationality. Since media form the convening systems of our historical period, communications projects often provide an initial entry point. My goal, however, remains documenting sustainable ways to address inequalities of power, or put positively, ways to make democracy more consistent. I am currently in the tenth year of a scholar-activist partnership with the Rhode Island Coalition against Domestic Violence (RICADV). We are completing an activist manual distilling what we’ve learned over the decade and I have begun work on a social movement theory book that will complement the manual (tentatively entitled Transformative Practice).
With the Rhode Island Coalition (RICADV) I have evolved a model of sustained community-university partnership about which I write in Rhyming Hope and History, Activists, Academics and Social Movement Scholarship University of Minnesota Press, 2005. Bill Gamson and I write about this work in a forthcoming issue of Contexts. My work in the Sociology Department at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell involves developing models of community-university partnerships that further regional economic and social development.
Currently, I am beginning a partnership with Lawrence Community Works. I am also collaborating with Felicia Sullivan of UML and Lowell Telecommunications Corporation. From her many years of involvement in Lowell community media, Felicia has designed a Newcomers News Network the purpose of which is to strengthen relational ties across immigrant communities as well as between immigrants and long-term residents. We are currently seeking funds to establish the network.