People Collection

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Jana Grekul, PhD

Associate Professor, Director BA (Criminology) Program

Arts

Sociology

About Me

Growing up in small-town Alberta, the oldest of three children whose parents were both school teachers, I always felt I would be a teacher (secretly I desired to be a hairdresser or truck driver). My parents encouraged me to explore options other than education; law became my goal. My first two years of University were pivotal for me: I took three sociology courses and fell in love with the discipline and somehow landed a job as a summer correctional relief officer in my hometown after my first year. The rest is history. In my “spare” time I am servant to my three cats (Sporty, Chopper, and Bobber – all named after motorcycles!) and two dogs (Daisy and Barkley), love camping, fishing, hunting, and gardening, and enjoy spending time riding my Harley (with my “truck driver” partner). 


Research

I was advised by a respected, senior professor early in my career that one should strive to not be a “one trick pony”. I have developed a number of different research interests, which on the surface might seem disjointed. These somewhat diverse areas of research interest are united by my desire to give voice to the experiences of those who are marginalized and to draw attention to social structural inequalities and how they impact lives in meaningful and often complicated ways. Issues relating to gender are foremost in many of my research endeavours. As a criminologist, I am particularly interested in how these processes result in the “othering” of groups of people and the implications – social and legal – for them. Also informing my research is a desire to raise awareness of patterns of injustice and work toward effecting positive change. 

Eugenics, and specifically the sterilization movement in Alberta (the topic of my doctoral dissertation) remains a research interest of mine. A brief experience working as a correctional officer (during my undergraduate degree) was pivotal in influencing my curiosity and desire to learn more about criminology and corrections in particular. Over time this led to research on Aboriginal street and prison gangs. More recent research developments include an ongoing study (with Traffic Safety, City of Edmonton) on traffic safety culture, impaired driving, and other “risky” driving behaviours. My work with Arts Pedagogy Research and Innovation Lab (APRIL) permitted me to develop a research stream that focuses on innovation in the classroom (in particular project-based learning), and research on teaching mentorship with graduate students. 



Teaching

I taught for several years as a graduate student instructor and then as a contract instructor. I have taught Social Problems, Statistics, Methods, Deviance, Introduction to Criminology, Criminal Justice Administration in Canada, and Youth, Crime and Society. However, my current ‘mainstays’ are Introductory Sociology (Soc. 100) and the Sociology of Punishment (Soc. 421). I have also taught the graduate course, Seminar in Criminal Justice (Soc. 525). My approach to teaching is best described as one that attempts to marry theory and practice by bringing to life sociological concepts and theories through real-world applications and through the integration of research with pedagogy. I am a big fan of experiential learning and have incorporated Community Service-Learning regularly into my classes. More recently I revolutionized my teaching approach in the Sociology of Punishment course by adopting project-based learning.