The Criminal Justice department was happy to announce the hiring of Dr. Chloe Robinson and Dr. Molly Block earlier this year. Both are highly experienced in their fields and bring new areas of expertise to the Criminal Justice department: Robinson is an expert on police misconduct and race and crime, while Block’s research focuses on terrorism. The department is excited to expose students to these areas of the criminal justice system.
Block received her doctorate from the University of Louisville, where she wrote her dissertation on how situational crime prevention can be used to anticipate terrorism against airports and aircrafts. Before joining IU South Bend, she worked as a visiting assistant professor at IUPUI, so she is already familiar with the Indiana University system. In addition to terrorism, Block has conducted research on drugs and crime, with a recent article on the effectiveness of prescription drug monitoring programs.
Robinson earned her Ph.D. from North Dakota State University and therefore actually looks forward to warmer weather in South Bend. Her dissertation examines the outcomes of police misconduct lawsuits in Chicago. One thing that attracted Robinson to IU South Bend is the Civil Rights Heritage Center, which has a rich archive that dovetails with her teaching interests.
In addition to her experience teaching a wide range of classes, the college is excited about the wealth of advising experience that Robinson brings to IU South Bend. Before pursuing her doctorate, she served as both a professional advisor and the assistant director of an advising center.
Both Block and Robinson emphasize how they use their research in the classroom not just to further their students knowledge of criminal justice but also to develop the whole student. For example, Robinson recognizes a relationship between the research enterprise and the importance of informed citizenship, especially in these challenging times.
“A central goal in my teaching is to provide students with empirical evidence that will help to better inform them about the criminal justice system,” said Robinson. “Once students understand the research, they are able to become well-informed citizens who are able to accurately articulate the complexities of policing.”
Robinson’s research also helps students reflect on current debates about policing and to recognize the role that such research plays in the pursuit of social justice.
“More than anything, I want students to understand that there is a paucity of empirical research centered on police misconduct and police accountability,” she said. “This is primarily because of the lack of accessibility to relevant data sources. Hopefully, once students understand this, they will be encouraged to conduct their own research on these topics. The least powerful and the most vulnerable must be considered when implementing new policing practices, policies, and procedures. True police reform can only occur when their voices are heard.”
Block uses her work on situational crime prevention to develop students’ critical thinking abilities by presenting them with hypothetical cases where they have to play the role of law enforcement.
“Students have to outthink the terrorists in order to prevent a terrorist attack,” Block said of these activities. “This type of critical thinking exercise is useful for students who are not only interested in homeland security and law enforcement, but it can apply to any individual who is worried about victimization from any sort of crime, and it also broadly helps students to develop problem solving skills.”
When asked about what attracted them to IUSB, both Block and Robinson highlighted how small campuses allow for deeper educational relationships to students.
“I find value in every student interaction,” says Robinson. “That personal connection is often lost on a big campus. I want to be able to see a student’s progression from the moment they first step into my classroom to the moment they walk across the stage at graduation. A smaller campus gives me the unique opportunity to build rapport and deeper connections with students.”
Block echoed this appreciation for the tight-knit community on a small campus like IU South Bend.
“It has all of the resources of a larger university while it has the look and feel of a small private college where students and faculty get more opportunities to interact and work together. It is the best of both worlds that you do not find at many other places.”
Block and Robinson also emphasized how their fellow faculty made them feel welcome to campus.
“Everyone has been really welcoming even in the pandemic environment where it’s very difficult to socialize,” said Block. “I am ecstatic to be part of a community where people go out of their way to make newcomers feel welcome in a safe socially distanced environment.”
IUSB tries its best to make everyone feel included, which starts by ensuring that new new faculty feel safe and respected so that they reflect that ethos in the classroom.
“I feel as though I am valued, and my voice matters even though I am the new kid on the block,” said Robinson. “Feeling that sense of belonging so early on in my career here at IUSB has made my heart smile.”
This semester has seen a dynamic change in the meaning of “classroom,” as most faculty are teaching their classes fully online this semester. Block and Robinson agree that this format presents unique challenges for both faculty and students. Thankfully, both bring a wealth of online teaching experience to IU South Bend and so are well-prepared to help our students excel in this environment.
“I have taught online for nearly ten years so the change in teaching modality has not been much of an issue,” said Robinson. “More than anything, I am trying to approach it all with grace. I know how difficult this is on our students, so offering an ear to listen or some encouraging words has made all the difference. Being empathic to the current state of affairs while also cultivating welcoming and comfortable learning environments is so essential right now.”
“It is definitely a strange time to start a new job!” said Block. “I am disappointed that I am not able to get to know the students more in a classroom setting. However, my students have really impressed me with how resilient they are and what great attitudes they have even if the internet is not their favorite mode of instruction. While I am excited to return to the classroom and to meet students face-to-face in the future, I am really happy to be joining a campus where so many people from the faculty, staff, and students are coming together to make the best of this situation.”
We are happy to welcome these two new faculty members to campus. Join us in saying a hearty hello and wishing them long successful careers at IUSB!