My senior year of high school I had AP History and AP Government back to back. In these classes, we usually started by discussing current events in the news, and what was going on in the world around us. My instructors could not have been more different-- they had completely polar opposite views in politics. After AP History, I always felt I had a strong opinion on an issue-- only for that same opinion to be changed by my AP Government class. As the year progressed, I began to critically and independently analyze events from both perspectives, and in the context of both political science and history. I really valued studying a subject from various lenses- it made me realize solutions are never clear cut, and there is never a "right" answer.
As I have mentioned in the previous post, my required classes for my majors (Sociology and Criminal Justice) and minors (Psychology, History, and Gender Studies) have a tendency to over lap in content. This is both beneficial, and a bit annoying at times. Beneficial for examining concepts through different lenses, but annoying because I hate paying lots of money to learn things twice. Anyways, in several of my classes we have learned about 'total institutions' . A total institution, in my own definition, is a social group that is completely surrounded by their own beliefs, living situations, and social norms-- while being isolated from the rest of the world. I like to think of total institutions as 'bubbles'.
This concept resurfaced in my Sociology of Religion class a few weeks ago, when we were discussing cults. After class, I walked around campus thinking about how total institutions shape the way an individual examines the world around them. When you're in a bubble, it is so easy to only experience and understand what is in your grasp.
In a sense, IU is like a bubble, or a total institution. As students, we are surrounded by peers, instructors, and co-workers, all who hold similar values (education). We have our own social norms, and even an in depth socialization policy (Orientation). Our understanding of politics, economics, social relations, culture, and class material is largely shaped by the IU community.
Many of the subjects and topics we read about and discuss for our classes seem a safe distance away from our 'bubble'. In my Criminal Justice classes, this is extremely apparent. It is easy to pass judgments, theorize about motivations for criminal behavior, and make assumptions about the deterrence of criminal sanctions when the majority of criminal activities students encounter is petty theft or alcohol related incidences. Solutions seem so clear cut when you're dealing with hypothetical situations.
So, how do we break this bubble, and view our course material through various lenses?
I chose to intern! Throughout this academic year, I will be interning with Centerstone Research Institute. It is my hope that this experience will help me further understand my course material, and examine the intricate world of community corrections through a different perspective.
Posted by Anne