Category Archives: Education


Criminal Justice Education Moves Online

Is that an Elephant in the Living Room?

Kenneth W. Mentor
University of North Carolina Wilmington

The popularity of criminal justice as a major, combined with the potential to reach justice professionals with distance technology, has resulted in the creation of many online degree programs. However, scholarly organizations in criminal justice barely acknowledge online learning. ACJS Certification Standards do not allow certification for most non-traditional programs. The failure to respond to rapid changes may be preventing our discipline from achieving goals related to criminal justice education.

The popularity of criminal justice education, combined with the potential for reaching many justice professional with distance technology, makes criminal justice an attractive candidate for online course and degree delivery. In fact, the discipline of criminal justice has been seen as fertile ground for new students and growth in certain segments of the market for criminal justice education has been very impressive.

Allen and Seaman (2008) report that over 3.9 million higher education students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2007 term, a 12.9% increase over the previous year. In contrast, there was just a 1.2% growth of the overall higher education student population. Over 20% of all U.S. higher education students were taking at least one online course in the fall of 2007, accounting for nearly 22% of total enrollment (Allen and Seaman, 2008). While the rate of growth varies from year-to-year, there is no indication that growth rates are leveling. Economic conditions, coupled with a growing emphasis on sustainability, are likely to accelerate the expansion of online learning, even if traditional enrollments decline.

While non-profit institutions are discovering this market, they are relatively late to the game. For-profit institutions currently comprise a significant percentage of the online learning market and are expected to continue to capture a large share of the market. The growth of some of these proprietary institutions has been remarkable. For example, Kaplan University has grown from 34 online students in 2001 to more than 48,000 online and on-ground students in 2008 (Kaplan, 2009). Kaplan first began offering criminal justice degrees in 2003. Since then, enrollment in the School of Criminal Justice has grown to over 7,000 students and more than 14 criminal justice degree or certificate programs (DiMarino, 2008).

Although we will see an increased emphasis on traditional students as the learning benefits of online learning are more widely acknowledged, those currently interested in online education are attracted by convenience, availability, and scheduling flexibility. This is especially true for criminal justice professionals closely connected to the communities in which they work. Online learning allows these professionals to return to college, or complete non-degree training experiences, without leaving their jobs and communities.

Given this rapid growth, accompanied by many online options in our discipline, it would seem logical to find criminal justice and criminology educators at the forefront of the distance learning movement. However, scholarly organizations in criminal justice and criminology barely acknowledge the rapid advancement of online learning. The ACJS Certification Standards for Academic Programs focus on campus-based programs and do not appear to acknowledge the possibility of certification for non-traditional programs that are not connected to, and administered by, faculty teaching in a traditional campus-based program (ACJS, 2005). While the “Teaching Tips” column in The Criminologist has been an exception, with several articles of interest to online educators, the ASC has been similarly silent on the issue of online education.

Rapid change in online learning has increased the importance of effective accreditation review, in many cases leading committed faculty to treat accreditation as an important opportunity rather than a necessary evil. Educators are becoming increasingly familiar with the expectations of regional accrediting bodies, acknowledging that accreditation standards represent important measures that can inform our efforts to focus on the development of effective learning outcomes.

As we begin to rely more heavily on distance learning models we can expect an increased emphasis on accreditation. Entirely new institutions are being formed to provide educational opportunities. Rather than force a hierarchy that places “traditional” models in a superior position, it is important to acknowledge the potential benefits of these rapid changes. Many discussions of online education rely on broad generalizations about quality, student motivations, and the entrepreneurial focus now being seen in higher education. We also see inaccurate assumptions regarding the quality of traditional models. Many changes will be necessary as we continue our efforts to build high quality learning environments.

Dedicated educators can certainly work to assure quality online educational experiences without the support of discipline-specific scholarly organizations. We can start by questioning the effectiveness of online learning environments. Quality varies widely, creating a void that could be filled with discipline specific guidelines. Educators may also want to examine the process through which courses and programs are created. For example, are criminal justice faculty involved with developing online courses, or has the process been turned over to course developers with very little discipline-specific knowledge?

Another issue is whether faculty members with terminal degrees are teaching courses and exercising responsibility for overall program quality. We also see an emphasis on very different instructor qualifications as proprietary institutions give hiring preference to instructors with “real world” experience. Arguably, the courses we teach, and students we serve, are changing as a result of events that many in our disciplines have yet to acknowledge.

We are also experiencing a variety of new learning models, including accelerated options, certificates, and other innovations. New subsections of our discipline are being created as online criminal justice degree programs, presently dominated by proprietary institutions, respond quickly to market demands. Entrepreneurial institutions have responded to these demands by developing courses, degrees, concentrations, and certificates in areas such as forensics, cyber-crime, homeland security, business continuity, and emergency management. In short, the teaching of criminology and criminal justice are changing as a result of marketing decisions.

How can online learning be better? We are just beginning to explore this terrain. While many changes will be needed, often relying on new learning tools, there is no doubt that learning is being permanently transformed. If we are truly experiencing a paradigm shift, this shift is constrained by our reluctance to acknowledge this change. The higher education paradigm, honed and perfected over time, has served us well. Unfortunately, this model may now be preventing us from moving toward higher quality learning environments.

The world of higher education is clearly changing. New technology has created many new learning opportunities and we are just beginning to experience the benefits. This is occurring during a time in which we are also seeing new demands from students. While we can question the absence of the scholarly organization to which many of us belong, these changes have lead to many new opportunities for educators.


DiMarino, F. (2008). Viewpoint interview with Frank DiMarino, The Washington Post. Available at:

Kaplan (2009). Kaplan Higher Education Fact Sheet. Kaplan University. Available at:






Humanizing Criminal Justice Education: Alternatives to “Us” Versus “Them”

Humanizing Criminal Justice Education: Alternatives to “Us” Versus “Them”

Kenneth W. Mentor
Department of Sociology and Criminology
University of North Carolina Wilmington

Originally published in “Professing Humanist Sociology,” Glenn Goodwin and Martin Schwartz, eds. Washington DC:  American Sociological Association, 2000.


In our efforts to humanize criminal justice education many of us refer, often in vague terms, to humanist and/or peacemaking criminology. Although well intentioned, unless we are careful with our words and examples, we may provide our students an opportunity to misinterpret the meaning and goals of humanist criminology. For example, it is easy to encourage students to humanize victims. However, if our humanizing efforts focus solely on socially defined “victims” of crime, we run the risk of intensifying the “us” versus “them” thinking we intend to challenge. In light of this concern, this paper proceeds with the idea that it is not necessarily helpful to turn victims, by default, into fine examples of humanity, while offenders are demonized. It is challenging to encourage students to make an effort to understand, and care about, someone who has been convicted of murder. When doing so, we walk a fine line. While our goal is to introduce a humanistic viewpoint, we run the risk of turning away students who will tune us out as they assume we are “coddling” criminals. This line is worth walking. The recognition of humanity, even among those who have been defined as unworthy, represents a significant step toward a humanist understanding of the criminal justice system.

Before moving forward, it is important to emphasize that many lives have been shattered by crime. Clearly, some people are dangerous, violent, and act with no respect for others. Although we continue to seek alternatives, the behavior of these individuals may leave society with little choice but to incarcerate the individual, perhaps for the remainder of his or her life.

It is important to openly express the points stated in the previous paragraph in an effort to minimize the challenges inherent in any attempt to integrate a humanist perspective in the teaching of criminal justice. Without clarification, some students, as they conclude that the professor is crazy and/or soft on crime, will shut out the humanist message. In order to keep the attention and interest of the majority it is helpful to occasionally place the humanist message in perspective.


My efforts to move the teaching of criminology away from the “us” verses “them” mentality are motivated by frustration as well as hope. Mainstream criminology is the source of much of this frustration. Additional frustration stems from the fact that politicians continue to repeat the same policy errors. Many of the flawed policies, for example, three strikes laws, the “war” on drugs, and the incredible increase in incarceration, seem to be directly related to the “us” versus “them” mentality. The academic community endorses ineffective policy by failing to point out the errors of, as well as the motives behind, these policies.

The hope that motivates my efforts to humanize criminology is based on a belief (perhaps naive) that through our efforts to educate future policy makers we may begin to see positive changes in the criminal justice system. The strategies presented in this paper are intended to generate change among criminal justice students. My bet is that this change will be in a certain direction. The teaching strategies discussed in this paper are intended to challenge stereotypes. Humanist criminology can succeed to the degree that the dominant paradigm, which is typified by state directed violence, force, and coercion, is questioned. The paradigm is challenged each time a glimmer of humanity appears in an area we have been told consists of people who do not deserve to be treated with respect.

David Bruck, in Decisions of Death, quotes Tocqueville in suggesting that restraint in punishment “extends as far as our sense of social equality, and no further: “the same man who is full of humanity toward his fellow creatures when they are at the same time his equals becomes insensible to their affliction as soon as that equality ceases” (1991:525). Our justice system, as well as our society, contains a variety of dehumanizing mechanisms that assist in an effort to define “them.” This definitional process allows a systemic reaction to crime that focuses on the individual rather than on the causes of his or her behavior.

Criminologists, through the teaching of criminology and criminal justice, have contributed to the “us” versus “them” mentality. Mills (1943) warned that due to market forces, “textbooks tend to embody a content agreed upon by the academic group using them” (1943:165). Several years later, Liazos echoed similar sentiments. In a review of popular deviance textbooks, Liazos pointed out that ideological biases in the field of deviance were “apparent as much from what these books leave unsaid and unexamined, as from what they say” (1972:104). As we strive to humanize criminal justice education we are able to avoid the narrow interpretations offered by mainstream criminology in our attempts to avoid the “us” versus “them” mentality.


The following discussion centers on strategies that encourage alternative ways of thinking about “criminals.” Many of these strategies meet with resistance. As Quinney points out, many students “come to us entrenched in a conservative ideology of crime. . . . To advance an alternative, a non-violent and humane approach to crime, is met with considerable dismay and resistance” (1993: 438). In light of this predictable resistance, it may be best to begin the humanizing effort at the more benign end of the spectrum of deviant behavior. Once students begin to accept that the deviance creating machinery is extremely effective, and works equally well throughout the full range of “deviant” and “criminal” behaviors, they have taken the first step toward humanizing all actors in the criminal justice system.

“I Never Thought I Was a Deviant”

Liazos (1978) warned of sociology’s fascination with “Nuts, Sluts, and Preverts.” In contrast, a humanistic criminology course presents an opportunity to exercise a great deal of creativity in the selection of readings. One of my goals has been to select topics that illustrate the machinery that creates “deviants.” A second goal is to illustrate that this machinery is so effective that “normal” people, people very similar to our students, can be efficiently defined as deviants.

One of my students’ favorite readings, which does not appear in traditional deviant behavior texts, is a short story by Kurt Vonnegut. Harrison Bergeron (Vonnegut, 1961) describes a society in which everyone is equal. In Vonnegut’s fictional society, the state attempts to limit non normative behavior or traits by creating “equality” through the use of “handicapping devices” such as lead weights, face masks, and loud noises intended to minimize logical thought. Harrison Bergeron is a great introduction to the power to define certain behavior or traits as unacceptable. The power to define, when coupled with the power to sanction, is very intimidating. Students are encouraged to look for examples, in today’s society, where the state has the power to define and sanction certain behaviors. Their examples often include examples of “normal” people, often through no fault of their own, being defined as deviant.

Another interesting reading describes an example of socially defined deviance. Pearson (1987) writes about the Grateful Dead phenomenon. While many students identify with this particular form of behavior, others see the behavior of Deadheads as quite deviant. Again, how can it be that something that some define as “normal” is defined as “deviant” by others? Students enjoy this topic and are often surprised to find that some in our society have negative feelings about Deadheads.

Duff and Hong (1989) discuss the creation and application of definitions of deviance in relation to women bodybuilders. Becker (1953) describes a process through which “normal” people become marijuana users. Troyer and Markle (1984) describe the emerging social problem of coffee drinking. Petrunik and Shearing (1996) describe practices intended to lessen the impact of negative views of stuttering. Each of these readings provides a humanistic view of deviance and has been well received by my students.

If deviance and crime are seen as similar behavior, leading to different social sanctions, students are able to see that a major difference between deviance and crime is the degree to which society blames the actor for his or her “unacceptable” behavior. Students begin a move toward a humanist criminology once they begin to recognize the mechanisms active in assigning blame. These mechanisms, apparent throughout our system of justice, separate “us” from “them.”

“Juvenile Delinquents” Are Human Too

Many of the most humanistic criminology writings are the result of qualitative research. For example, Goldstein (1990) interviewed “delinquent” juveniles. Goldstein suggests that the experience of being “delinquent” conveys expertise in understanding delinquency. Goldstein’s efforts to provide “ordinary knowledge as a supplement to and, at times, even a replacement for professional scientific knowledge” (emphasis in original, 1990:3) provide a clear and compassionate picture of the world of juveniles.

Elliott Currie (1992), in Dope and Trouble, follows a similar path. He writes that he had learned a great deal through personal interviews and that others would benefit from hearing the stories, in their entirety, as told by the subjects of his research. Currie felt “that it was only by hearing their own stories that we could appreciate the complexity and uniqueness of each of their lives” (1992:xii). This approach is necessary, according to Currie, because stereotypes “mislead us and hobble a rational approach to the problems of troubled kids. They obscure the complexity of the forces that influence the paths young people take” (1992:xii).

Currie, Goldstein, and others have engaged in ethnographic research that allows us to develop a greater empathy for those who are defined as deviant, delinquent, or criminal. This type of research is a rich resource for anyone attempting to humanize the criminal justice process. After reading such personal stories only the most obstinate students will fail to recognize that those who attract the attention of the criminal justice system are not always so different from themselves.

A less thoroughly researched area, and thankfully one that generally does not include juvenile offenders, is the phenomenon defined as “serial killing.” In the following section we turn our attention to the task of humanizing some of the “least human” participants in our society.

Natural Born Killers?

As might be imagined, this group can be extremely difficult to humanize. One method that has been somewhat effective, and very popular with students, has been to view serial killers or other mass murderers as they have been depicted in film. One of the most popular films, although I do not show it without numerous disclaimers and the clearly elaborated opportunity to miss class without fear of retribution, is Natural Born Killers. The film’s main characters, Mickey and Mallory, are depicted as a violent couple with real, although unusual, problems. The film pushes the viewer to wonder how these individuals could have been created. The impact of violent media messages, child abuse, education, and other socialization events are outlined in the film. Students do not believe, in spite of the film’s title, that Mickey and Mallory were born to live a murderous lifestyle. Instead, students recognize that this lifestyle was the product of a socialization process not totally dissimilar to their own.

Another film, a well done documentary directed by Nick Broomfield, presents the human side of a female “serial killer.” Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, introduces us to a woman who has killed at least seven men. The documentary presents Wuornos as a victim of an uncaring criminal justice system. She is represented by a greedy and incompetent attorney, who would clearly prefer to be a rock star. Aileen’s “mother” demonstrates her love for her newly adopted daughter by encouraging her to plead no contest to multiple murder. The logic behind this plea, which is supported by the attorney, is that this plea, and the resulting death penalty, will accelerate the process through which Aileen will receive God’s ultimate forgiveness. Other players include police officers who ignore evidence that would reduce the value of a story they were attempting to sell to the networks.

Ms. Wuornos, an admitted prostitute who claims that she killed these men because they were about to rape and kill her, is a victim as well as offender. Students are shocked to learn about her situation and question whether it is a true story. The documentary effectively demonstrates the humanity of an individual who has been victimized throughout much of her life. The effectiveness of the dehumanizing ritual active throughout the justice system is also apparent.

“But Some of Them Deserve to Die”

The case of Aileen Wuornos is an obvious link to the issue of capital punishment. Since nearly all death penalty writings, at least those that spring from the scholarly community, are in opposition to the death penalty, each may be helpful in a humanist criminal justice course. These writings may offer moral or religious arguments in opposition to the death penalty. Others argue against the idea of general deterrence (Archer et al., 1983). Others document the discriminatory application of the death penalty (Baldus et al., 1986). Another viewpoint, which avoids the problem associated with humanizing murderers, is that a number of innocent humans have been executed by the state (Bedau and Radelet, 1987).

Another strategy, which has been fairly successful in my teaching, includes death row stories. Books by Dicks (1995) and Radelet (1989) include a collection of stories from people on death row. The narratives are offered by the condemned, those who work on death row, the families of both victim and offender, and from a variety of observers. Again, the words of those involved in the system provide compassionate evidence in support of a humanist criminology.


One of my most effective attempts to humanize deviance and criminology involved a campus and classroom visit from a homeless man who had been an active member of the Hell’s Angels. He was an “enforcer,” claimed to have taken several lives, and had served time in prison. At the time of his visit, he was no longer an active member of the Hell’s Angels. This man suffered from a genetic disorder that had forced him to undergo over 300 surgeries. He was not physically attractive in traditional terms. He was from a poor family and had lived a violent life, in direct contrast to the students at the exclusive liberal arts college he was visiting.

I was reluctant to issue an invitation when the opportunity was presented. I felt that his visit might be little more than a “freak show.” I was concerned that my students, who would see this individual as very different from them, would move to the “us” versus “them” mode of thinking. Fortunately, I underestimated these students. They wanted to learn all they could from this man. They treated him with dignity and honored him with their sincere efforts to understand his life. A one day visit from this man, much more like “them” than “us,” taught over 100 individuals that the lives of “us” and “them” are intricately intertwined.

This paper briefly outlines specific strategies that can be integrated into any criminal justice course. Along with these strategies, the humanistic criminal justice educator should always be on the lookout for simple stories or experiences that illustrate the humanity of those who are caught up in our system of justice. For example, a good friend of mine teaches Adult Basic Education classes at a large state prison. This prison is known for holding some of the state’s most dangerous prisoners. Several students in her class had just earned their GED and the class was celebrating their success with a day away from the books. The class greatly enjoyed a rousing game of “Outburst.” My students are always amused by the image of “hardened criminals” laughing, joking around, and playing a trivia game. Their amusement provides an opportunity to ask, “why wouldn’t they enjoy this game, it’s a lot of fun isn’t it?” This simple story and question, with no further elaboration needed, has a great deal of humanizing potential. The “us” versus “them” machinery is stopped cold by the image of murderers playing board games.

Perhaps this is the right time to humanize criminology. Immarigeon writes that “there are numerous cracks in the armor” that protects a criminal justice policy that relies heavily on repressive measures (1991:429). He argues that an “opening therefore exists to challenge and organize against the prevailing paradigm of justice” (1991:429). Criminology has “too often served the violence of criminal justice” (Quinney, 1993:8). Change is unlikely unless we, as criminologists, begin to challenge the dominant paradigm. This challenge need not involve major policy statements or ground breaking research. The tools to move toward a humanist criminology are more subtle and are easily available. These tools can be used to encourage future policy makers to resist pressures to demonize offenders. Instilling this resistance may be the best hope for creating a humanist, compassionate, and peaceful justice system.


Archer, D., Gartner, R., and Beittel, M. 1983. “Homicide and the Death Penalty: A Cross-National Test of a Deterrence Hypothesis.” Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 74, 991.

Baldus, D., Pulaski, C., and Woodworth, G. 1986. “Arbitrariness and Discrimination in the Administration of the Death Penalty: A Challenge to State Supreme Courts.” Stetson Law Review, 15, 133-261.

Becker, H.S. 1953. “Becoming a Successful Marihuana User.” The American Journal of Sociology, 59, 235-242.

Bedau, H.A. and Radelet, M.L. 1987. “Miscarriages of Justice in Potential Capital Cases.” Stanford Law Review, 40, 21-179.

Bruck, D. 1991. “Decisions of Death.” In J.H. Skolnick and E. Currie (eds.) Crisis in American Institutions, Eighth Edition. New York: Harper Collins.

Currie, E. 1992. Dope and Trouble. New York: Pantheon Books.

Dicks, S. (ed.). 1995. Young Blood: Juvenile Justice and the Death Penalty. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Duff, R.W. and Hong, L.K. 1989. “Management of Deviant Identity Among Competitive Women Bodybuilders.” In D.H. Kelly, (ed.) Deviant Behavior. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Goldstein, A. 1990. Delinquents on Delinquency. Champaign, IL: Research Press.

Immarigeon, R. 1991. “Beyond the Fear of Crime.” In H.E. Pepinsky and R. Quinney, (eds.) Criminology as Peacemaking. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Liazos, A. 1978. “The Poverty of the Sociology of Deviance: Nuts, Sluts, and Preverts.” Social Problems, 20, 103-120.

Mills, C.W. 1943. “The Professional Ideology of Social Pathologists.” The American Journal of Sociology, 49, 165-180.

Pearson, A. 1987. “The Grateful Dead Phenomenon: An Ethnomethodological Approach.” Youth & Society, 18(4), 418-432.

Pepinsky, H.E. and Quinney, R. (eds.) 1991. Criminology as Peacemaking. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Petrunik, M. and Shearing, C.D. 1996. “Stutterers’ Practices.” In E. Rubington and M.S. Weinberg, (eds.) Deviance: The Interactionist Perspective, Sixth Edition, Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Quinney, R. 1993. “A Life of Crime: Criminology and Public Policy as Peacemaking.” Journal of Crime and Justice, 16(2), 3-9.

Radelet, M. (ed.). 1989. The Death Penalty: Essays on a Cruel and Unusual Punishment. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Troyer, R.J. and Markle, G.E. 1984. “Coffee Drinking: An Emerging Social Problem?” Social Problems, 31(4).

Vonnegut, K. 1961. “Harrison Bergeron.” Reprinted in K. Vonnegut, Welcome to the Monkey House (1988). New York: Laurel.


Back to the “Old Ways”: Getting Students and the DCC involved in Activism

Back to the “Old Ways”: Getting Students and the DCC involved in Activism

Those involved in founding the marxist/radical/critical criminology of the late 1960s and early 1970s, were also often members of groups that engaged in various acts of protest designed to stimulate social change. These criminologists spent much of their time being activists. Their activism was shared with and by the college students they taught, and they spent at least part of their time engaged in activities that brought their social change theories to life.

Today, college students are not very active politically, and are very unlikely to be engaged in acts of resistance. In order to stimulate activism, I often design my courses to include an option to engage in a community activist project in lieu of a term paper. The assignments vary depending on the course. In environmental law and crime, the students are encouraged to map out hazardous waste sites and dangers within a local, economically deprived community, and set up a meeting to share that information with community members. Students have also become involved in the community by attending City Council meetings and becoming members of committees on community problems related to crime, justice or the environment. Students in one of my graduate classes, for example, became experts on water distribution rules and rights, and helped guide decisions made by Hillsborough County about expanded water rights requested filed by water bottling companies that sought to increase the amount of water they were allowed to bottle. The student committee, using information it gathered on the past behavior of the companies who had applied for expanded water rights in other communities, helped conviced the Hillsborough County executives not to expand water pumping rights. To spread the idea of activism, I have also served as the student advisor to a group that protested animal experimentation on campus.

This semester in my course “Crimes of the Powerful,” I have attempted to get students to establish a group that seeks to ban Coca-Cola from campus for its involvement in human rights abuses in South America, and for production of tainted (pesticide contaminated products) in India (on pesticide tainted products in India see,; on Coca-Cola’s potential connection to the killing of South American union leaders see, So far, the students are resisting. Their objections include an array of typical replies: “we are a small group or rather powerless people compared to Coca-Cola. There’s no way we can suceed.” They also were quick to note that Coke is served all over campus, and that many of the vendors on campus have a contract to serve only Coke products. I had two responses to these objections. First, I pointed out that the vendor’s contracts don’t produce an insurmountable situation; they just require that you think a little differently to accomplish your goal. If the campus food vendors serve Coke, one option is to make them part of the problem as well; boycott them and put pressure on them to change. A second option is to get them to stop selling any liquid refreshments. I pointed out, for example, that the food vendor contracts say that the vendors must sell only Coke products. The contracts do not state that the companies cannot suspend the sale of all drink products. Third, the students need an example of individuals or small groups of individuals who battle against big odds or big companies and win. There are any number of these that can be used. Perosnally, I refer students to the following sources of inspiration.

Free the Children. This book details the efforts of 14 year old Craig Kielburger (yes, 14) to fight aganst child labor. Kielburger as successful in his efforts, even getting to speak on the issue of child labor before the UN. Today, his international organization, “Free the Children International” ( is an internatinally recongized aid agency that helps kids get involved to change the world for other kids in need. Its an amazing story, and if a 14 year old can do it, shouldn’t college students be able to accomplish a smaller sclae project?

Ralph Nader. Not that it will tend to matter, but I identify Nader to the class as one of my personal heros. They know him because he has run for president; they don’t know about his activism which includes: (1) helping create automobile safety legislation in the US (Nader has been credited with saving the lives of more than 1 million Americans); (2) helping create legislation related to citizens’ right to know that helped produce the “Communtiy right to Know” Act related to toxic waste; (3) numerous consumer protection laws and ruling; and (4) founded/hellp found a number of groups to promote public activism, the free exchange of knowldge, and participatory democracy including:

“Public Citizen” ( to investigate government fraud and abuse;
“Essential Information” ( an information sharing group
“The Center for Automobile Safety” (
“Trial Lawyers for Public Justice” (
“Center for Women Policy Studies” (
“Citizen Works” ( to establish grassroot organizations
“Center for Justice and Democracy” (
“Center for Science in the Public Interest” (

Lois Gibbs. Lois Gibbs entered th public sphere when, as a housewife, she organized the Love Canal Homeowners Association to fight against the discovery of the Love Canal waste site in Niagara Falls, NY. Following her success in her loca community, Gibbs helped push for the creation of national legislation that would clean up hazardous waste sites. These efforts lead to the passage of the “Superfund” Act. Shortly thereafter, Gibbs founded the “Citizens’ Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste”, now know as the “Center for Health, Environment and Justice.”
CHEJ ( provides aid to communities attempting to establish grassroot movements for improving environmental health and justice.

In any event, it is my impression that these “old ways” that involved activism used to be much more prevalent on college campuses and within fields associated with more radical inclinations. In my view, using coursework in an inventive manner to stimualte this kind of activism is needed, and DCC members should make an effort to build activism into their courses.

Finally, I’m calling on DCC members to support a boycott of Coca-Cola products. This can be done on a personal level, by getting your classes involved, or by forming groups on your campus. The DCC membership and executives might also consider drafting a statement on this matter.