This is another in an ongoing series of profiles of faculty members who have recently achieved tenure and/or promotion. These profiles are intended to provide illustrations of how some faculty reach that goal.
What is justice?
Exploring that broad and vital question is the life’s work of Kristi Holsinger, recently promoted to professor in the Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology. Her pursuit of answers drives a career that a colleague has described as “the coalescence of teaching, scholarship and service.”
Her approach is perhaps best exemplified by the undergraduate Capstone class she teaches.
“Although our CJC seniors have developed proficiency with various criminal justice concepts and criminological theories, I use the CJC Capstone class to allow students to wrestle with the complex and sometimes contradictory notions of justice – to position criminal justice within a larger justice perspective,” Holsinger said. “Here we define and explore the place social justice and activism can occupy within the discipline of Criminal Justice and Criminology. I push students to think about how they can engage in solving social problems they care about.”
She also has developed a Mentoring class, a service learning course that sets up mentoring relationships between UMKC students and incarcerated female youth, providing the students with a hands-on application of criminology, while serving this chronically underserved at-risk population.
In addition to being a popular and respected teacher, Holsinger is also an accomplished scholar. Her research focuses on delinquency, gender-specific correctional programing and female offending. Her book, Teaching Justice, presents her approach as an evidence-based model to facilitate effective teaching of social justice issues. Her 2006 article in Feminist Criminology, titled “The Gendered Nature of Risk Factors for Delinquency”, is the most-cited manuscript in that journal’s history.
“The (article) findings document the risk factors that are particularly significant for girls (compared to boys, they have very high rates of abuse, worse reported family relationships, worse mental health outcomes, and lower self-esteem). The article discusses how these findings contribute to theoretical discussions and highlight intervention and treatment needs for girls,” she said.
Mentoring is something she practices as well as teaches.
“I do see myself as a mentor, to at-risk girls, to my students, and to junior faculty. However, I have an expanded definition of mentoring that is bi-directional, where I learn from them just as much as they are learning from me,” Holsinger said. “I also view these relationships as potentially inspiring and supportive in challenging oppressive social structures that silence girls and women. I want the girls and young women to know that they matter and can make a difference.”