Gaboury, endowed professor of the Oskar Schindler Humanities Foundation from 2007 to 2009, is also an Associate Dean of Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences. He is the author of several published book chapters and articles on Victimology, Victime Services, and Restorative Justice. We sat down with Mario Gaboury to learn what he is doing inside and outside the classroom.
What I enjoy most about teaching here is working with our students as they learn and develop professionally. Most of my courses are Academic Service Learning classes, meaning that students engage in field experiences related to the course. Students find this very useful and it reflects balancing our rigorous academics with practical experience. Just this morning, I received a thank you note from a student. This is when I know that I have done my job and really planted the seeds of knowledge in my students.
I see a few things in my general area of social sciences and law. I see more focus on competency development. The old model of the pitcher and the glass where the teacher poured the information out and the student soaked it up will move towards a more interactive, more egalitarian exchange with students. This raises the expectations for the students to apply what they know and take action. This is the creation of a learning environment for the student where there is a partnership with the student and teacher to develop learning goals that complements classroom-based knowledge aquisition. This is very collaborative. There will be problem-based or case-based assignments where the students will independenlty find answers. There is also the capstone experience, such as an internship. The earlier you can get students involved in the professional world the better. Get the student out into the field. If we push that earlier on in their education then they can see what “real” work experiences will be like. I see more of a partnership of knowledge. Students need to be engaged and not just in rote memory but demonstrate that they have developed skills and can do things when they leave the course.
The important thing about this balance is to truly appreciate how theory and practice are both important. If students appreciate practice but not so much theory they won’t understand the "why" of the practice. Students need to know that both are important one could not exist or be valid without the other. Empirical research is in the middle of theory and practice. You need to test ideas and test practice. The way you look at something is going to affect the way you understand it. There is a connection between events. When you have practice without theory or research that is not good.
I am on a number of committees. I am on the transition Committee for the Faculty Handbook which is restructuring how the University is governed. I am on the Tenure and Promotion Committee. I am on the Sabbatical Leave Committee. I am also the President to the American Society of Victimology which is affiliated to the World Victimology Society.
It is pretty clear that our reputation is outstanding. We have a great reputation as being one of the oldest and best criminal justice program in the nation. We also are one of the largest program in a private university. Talk to any practitioner around. Many officers and agents in the area have gone to our school. Part of this is because of our longevity and part is because of the quality of our program.
I am currently working on Schindler Professorship activities which has a primary focus on research on human trafficking. I have just completed a study on a restorative justice program in four state correctional departments. Lastly, I also comleted a mental health assessment in Vietnam that I am trying to get funding for a second phase.
We have the Innocence Project, the Cold Case Project, a new undergraduate concentration in Forensic Psychology and are developing and undergraduate Intelligence Studies in National Security Program to complement our graduate National Security Program. The innocence project class studied evidence and presented it to the statee innocent commission. The Cold Case Project class looks at closed cold cases to develop new leads. We also have a new concentration in International Justice and Security, and Forensic Psychology. These may be at other schools, but we do it better because of the faculty experience and quality is much better.
I use a variety of methods because I teach a wide varitey of courses. In my straight law courses, I simplify the information. I use a lot of lecture, discussion and PowerPoint presentations and work on case briefs with the students. Sometimes I have the students role-play where they act out the law. Courses that allow more innovative methods are my victimology and victime services courses. In these courses, I use audiovisual techniques and I have invited guest speakers who work with local agencies in case projects to come into the classroom. Both courses are service learning course. This is where students go out into the community and work with victim service agencies. This year my students will be working with the state chapter of MADD and the local Sexual Assault Crisis Center. With MADD the students will monitor cases in the local courts system. I also teach a class called the Oskar Schindler Humanities class which which is based on the work of Oskar Schindler from the movie Schindler's List. This class will work with the Jewish Federation of New Haven to capture oral history from holocaust survivors and we also visit the Holocaust Museum in D.C.
I use Blackboard. This is an electonic system that is very powerful and very efficient. It allows you to link right into content that is relevant to the class right as it happens, which allows you to keep the information current. Blackboard makes this easier. I tell students that they can use electronic means to get highlights, but that they still need to read the news, which provides more depth.
As a victimologist I see two important issues. Restorative justice, which is an alternative to the traditional, retributive criminal justice system, and is an effort to bring victims of crime and their issues together with the offenders and their issues. This is a broader approach than what is occurring. Human trafficking is another important issue. This is one of the criminal victimization issues that is least understood. I was invited to serve as an expert on a National Academy of Sciences panel working to figure out if the estimated numbers of traffficking victimes are close to valid. This panel has met to generate ideas to recommend to the State Department to at least count the victims and to monitor their grants programs better. Human trafficking is the second or third most profitable organized crime in the world. Research is not only timely but very important; we just don’t know enough about this problem.
In the first instance, we have wonderful faculty. Our faculty really care about our students. We have programs that are a balance between practice and theory. We have a balanced faculty that are involved with the professional world as well as with research and theory. We are a professional school with strong academic roots. Many of our faculty have had experience in the field. We also have very close contact with the students.
I would give old style advice of taking it seriously from the very beginning. First off is to remember that this is a very serious profession. Secondly, connect with the faculty and find out about experiential opportunities. It is also important to find out what is going on outside of the classroom. Find out what faculty are doing that interests you, you can benefit from their knowledge and connections. Get exposure early on in your education.