Marlboro College

Academics Renee Byrd - Social Science Fellow

Renee Byrd has a strong commitment to the liberal arts. She says: "I am passionate about the power of a liberal arts education to create and inspire critical thinking and to motivate students to think of themselves as capable of intervening in our most pressing social problems. I am particularly excited by Marlboro’s unique, student driven approach to education."  She is looking forward to sharing her passion for social theory and social justice by teaching at Marlboro College.

Teaching Philosophy

As a teacher, Renee sees her role as a guide, working with students to “think differently,” and to question the assumptions behind our ideas about the world. She states: "I endeavor to create a learning community with students where we learn to make stronger and more effective arguments, so that we may be agents of change in the world. I was very lucky as an undergraduate at Mills College to have faculty mentors who took an interest in me and who pushed me to my highest potential. My teaching philosophy is very much influenced by the example those mentors set for me."  Renee is passionate about the power of a liberal arts education to create and inspire critical thinking and to prepare students to bring their unique visions into manifestation in the world. She believes in pushing students to become better thinkers, and in creating an empowering environment where intellectual experimentation and creativity are valued.

Renee's teaching philosophy is also influenced by feminist and critical pedagogy, particularly the work of bell hooks. She believes that "critical thinking is the bedrock of a functioning democracy and successful attempts to transform the world. If students graduate as excellent thinkers, writers and speakers, they can apply those skills in any endeavor they choose. My teaching is centered around cultivating the written and oral communication skills of my students, promoting critical thinking and an engaged learning community and valuing the diverse voices of each member of that learning community that we create in the classroom."

Scholarly Activities

Renee's research focuses on the contemporary prison, the politics of race, gender and sexuality, and neoliberal political rationalities.  She has complemented her research with relevant real-world experience as a Rapid Re-Housing Advocate in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she helped to provide housing assistance to homeless families, particularly female heads of household with criminal backgrounds.  Renee is a winner of the prestigious Graduate School Medal at the  University of Washington, and was named a Women of Color Dissertation Scholar by Sociologists for Women in Society.

Selected Conference Presentations

“Politics Beyond Prisons.” Race/ Knowledge Project’s Spring Event, 2009.

 “Living the Possibility that ‘things could be otherwise.’ ” National Women’s Studies Association, 2006.

 "Triple Jeopardy: African American Women and the Prison Industrial Complex.”  Color of Violence III: Women of Color Against Violence, 2005.

“System Failure: Violence, Abuse and Neglect in the California Youth Authority.” Color of Violence III: Women of Color Against Violence, 2005.

B.A., Mills College, 2004; advanced graduate study, University of Washington; Marlboro College, 2011 -

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