Sherry Giles is busy — in a satisfying and rewarding way. As Chair of the Justice and Policy Studies Department, as well as Interim Chair of the Peace and Conflict Studies Department, she manages three undergraduate majors, five minors and a master’s program, and she teaches some of the most involved courses in the curriculum — Community and Justice Studies (CMJS).
The CMJS major is an interdisciplinary major that combines on-campus coursework with community-based learning while bringing together Sociology, Psychology, Political Science and History to “examine how communities address the issues they face.” For example, students look closely at homelessness, police accountability, public education, food insecurity, and the rights of immigrant and refugees — issues any given community might have to navigate. In her Restorative Justice course, students examine restorative justice as an alternative to retributive justice, which is the basis of our nation’s judicial system.
“Reclaiming Democracy is one of my favorite courses that I teach,” Sherry explains. “It brings together faculty and students from six local campuses and the broader community, and we examine democracy and try to model it with each other. Students meet in small, mixed-campus groups and discuss current topics relating to democracy.” They also complete community-based projects, which they present at a public conference at the end of the semester. The course is offered every two years, with the next course offered fall 2018 — an election year.