Classes without quizzes: Alumni Weekend Teach-Ins

Professor Bettina Aptheker will discuss "Feminism and Social Justice."
Professor Craig Haney will give a presentation entitled, "Think Different: Why Everything We've Been Taught About Crime is Wrong and What We Need to Do About It."

Alumni returning for Alumni Weekend should get ready to exercise their brains and have some fun at the ever-popular "Teach-Ins," an academic afternoon that lets Banana Slugs be students once again but without the exams.

The Teach-Ins have become a popular tradition. This year's rendition should be no exception, with respected UC Santa Cruz faculty members Bettina Aptheker, distinguished professor and UC Presidential Co-Chair of Feminist Critical Race & Ethnic Studies, and this year's Faculty Research Lecturer Craig Haney, an influential psychology professor whose testimony and research has changed the way thousands of Americans look at solitary confinement.

These Teach-Ins, both free of charge, take place at 2:30-3:45 p.m. on April 25 in Stevenson classrooms on the UC Santa Cruz campus. They are part of a very special edition of UC Santa Cruz's Alumni Weekend, marking the 50th anniversary of the campus opening its doors to students.

Aptheker will deliver a presentation called "Feminism and Social Justice." She promises to give attendants food for thought about current movements in social justice and the ways in which gender, race, class, and sexuality interconnect with each other.

Aptheker said she's very excited to share her work with alumni. "Feminist Studies is such a vibrant stand-alone graduate program at UC Santa Cruz," said Aptheker, who also teaches an Intro to Feminism course for undergraduates. "It feels great to be able to spread the word about it."

She also looks forward to saying hello to former students. Aptheker has gained such a large and loyal following over the years that she runs into people who have taken her class since she stared teaching at UC Santa Cruz in 1980.

"I run into people in the oddest places—in airports, in a parking lot in a very remote area of Colorado, and, not so very long ago, on the New York City subway," Aptheker said. Aptheker's research covers such issues as feminist oral history and memoir, feminist pedagogy, African American feminist history, sexuality/queer studies, and Jewish studies.

No one has documented the long-term psychological damage of incarceration in the United States more than Haney, who will present a talk entitled "Think Different: Why Everything We've Been Taught About Crime is Wrong and What We Need to Do About It."

During the talk, Haney will discuss "the political and media misrepresentations of the nature and causes of crime in our society and their consequences in helping to fuel a very expensive and misguided set of crime control policies over the last several decades."

Haney holds psychology and law degrees, and has spent his entire career watching prison populations grow while probing the psychology of imprisonment and the causes of violent crime.

During the talk he will present extensive research—his own and that of a number of others—demonstrating the developmental and social contextual origins of criminal behavior, including the impact of childhood risk factors, trauma, and maltreatment as well as economic inequality.

Indeed, there is now an entire science of "life course criminology"—an approach that analyzes people's lives within structural, social, and cultural contexts—that stands in direct opposition to the simplistic model of "free will" upon which much criminal law and prison policy continues to be based. Haney will conclude by proposing an alternative, preventive model of crime control that stems directly from this fundamentally different understanding of the nature of criminality.

He has interviewed thousands of prisoners, many on death row or in solitary confinement in the nation's growing stable of "supermax" prisons.

After filling their heads with knowledge and food for thought, Teach In "students" can kick back immediately afterward at the Alumni Wine Reception: Sunset and Wine, which starts at 4 p.m. at the Cowell Courtyard, within easy walking distance of the Teach-Ins. Admission is $10.