The sociology department at Colorado State University-Pueblo hired a new assistant professor this year with extensive knowledge of incarceration studies. Colleen Hackett started this fall semester on a tenure track and plans to challenge her students to think critically about sociology topics.
Hackett grew up in a rural community outside of Phoenix and recently relocated to Pueblo from Denver. She earned her doctorate from the University of Colorado Boulder with emphases in critical and feminist criminology, social inequalities and qualitative methods.
During her research, she studied prisons and the effects of incarceration on different communities, especially women living in poverty and women of color. She said she hoped to bring these issues more into the forefront and increase people’s understanding of the tolls of incarceration.
Hackett said that about 10 years ago, she started practicing activism in Massachusetts, where she was living at the time.
“I met a lot of women who had been incarcerated and had lost their children in the process to the foster system,” she said.
The injustices she witnessed struck a chord in her and motivated her to further continue her education in sociology.
“It challenges peoples’ preconceived notions of what makes a criminal, a criminal. I try to humanize people in the criminal legal system as much as I can, which I think isn’t normally done in our society,” she said.
Hackett said she wants to impact her local community by creating more opportunities for activism. “I hope to find other people who also upset at over-incarceration and discriminatory sentencing practices,” Hackett said.
As far as her teaching philosophy, Hackett said that she wants prospective sociology students to know that the subject matter can be hard to navigate. “The material that I teach is challenging, both academically but also often ethically,” she said.
She also encourages criticism, critical thinking and tries to personalize the material she teaches. “I invite all kinds of speakers into my classroom and I plan on incorporating tours of La Vista and Cañon City in my teaching practices,” Hackett added.
Hackett also said she is excited about a few projects she has in the works. She is currently co-authoring an article with someone who is incarcerated.
“I’m interested in using alternative methodologies and I want to collaborate more with non-conventional authors both in and out of academia,” she said. Hackett wants to incorporate more experiential learning and creativity in her work.
Hackett said that she always tries to have fun and be happy with what she’s doing despite the difficulties of what she is doing.
When Hackett is not at work, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her dog, Toona, hiking or bicycling at Lake Pueblo State park. She also likes to take in sites of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. In her free time, she said she loves to practice yoga and read science books.