Professor Listing

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Jana Grekul, PhD

Associate Professor, Director BA (Criminology) Program

Arts

Sociology

About Me

I completed all three of my degrees here at the University of Alberta, in the Department of Sociology. After teaching as a graduate student, then as a "sessional"/contract instructor for several years, I was hired as Assistant Professor and Director of the BA Criminology program. I am thrilled to be involved with our Criminology program for many reasons, including the fact that we provide our students with experiential learning opportunities through our field placement stream. As the program enters into the expansion process (our first cohort under the new program joins us September 2019!), I look forward to developing exciting experiential and research opportunities for our students and collaborative activities and events that bring our students, faculty, and community partners together. 

I received a McCalla Professorship for 2018-2020, the focus of which is a "pilot" project in the fourth year Women and Crime course (Sociology 430) this fall. Using project-based learning as the pedagogical basis for the course, students will create "actionable" projects that could be taken up by community partners who work with victimized and criminalized women. Community partners will be actively involved in the course, and graduate student teaching assistants will develop teaching skills as they assist with course development and delivery and through their roles as project managers who liaise directly with our community partners as the student projects unfold. 

My teaching interests and research interests overlap to some extent. I recently received a SSHRC Insight Development grant for a project which aims to investigate women's reintegration/re-entry experiences post-incarceration, from the perspective of the women and frontline professionals who work with them. Goals of this research project include the possibility of helping to inform policy and practice in ways that reduce some of the challenges women face post-incarceration. 

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 Indigenous street and prison gangs. More recent research developments include a study that examines community re-entry post-incarceration for female, federally sentenced offenders. My former 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. The focus of my McCalla professorship is a pilot class project that integrates project-based learning, community partners, and graduate student teaching assistants in my Women and Crime course. 



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 ‘mainstays’ are Introductory Sociology (Soc. 100) and the Sociology of Punishment (Soc. 421). I recently brought Women and Crime (Soc. 430) back into our course offerings. 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. I look forward to doing the same with the Women and Crime course; during the fall 2019 term I will be integrating project-based learning into the course and will invite community partners to be involved as well. The goal is for students to create "actionable" projects that could be taken up and put into practice by community organizations. Graduate student teaching assistants are a critical part of the course development and delivery and will play an active role as members of a teaching team and as project managers/community liaisons as the student projects develop. 

I enjoy working with graduate students and have supervised projects and theses covering diverse topics ranging from domestic violence in South Asian communities, to youth gangs and marginalized youth, to Indigenous female gang members, to the effect of economic "booms and busts" on the sex trade, to radical misogyny.