Social Sciences

Social Sciences Lecture Series Features Howard Community College Faculty Speaking On Timely Topics

Written by Mamie M. Arndt


Professors to talk about American politics, sex and gender, culture, Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and de-escalation techniques in policing

Howard Community College (HCC) will host a series of virtual lectures showcasing social sciences faculty on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. during the months of February and March. Faculty will speak on their areas of expertise, covering such timely topics as American politics, sex and gender, culture, the Fourth Amendment, and de-escalation techniques in policing. Each lecture includes time for questions from participants.

Free and open to the public, participants are asked to RSVP at or by emailing [email protected]. A link to access the lectures will be provided closer to the event dates.

Tuesday, February 16 – “On Seeing: A Reflection on Culture”

Talk by Dr. Alejandro Muzzio, instructor of anthropology

Culture informs every aspect of the human experience, and yet the word “culture” remains obscure. Relying on storytelling, the foundation of the human experience, Dr. Muzzio will share a wide array of humorous, engaging, and compelling personal narratives. Taking you from the jungles of Honduras to the highways of Howard County, we will collectively seek an awareness of what informs our understanding of reality.

About the Speaker: Dr. Alejandro Muzzio holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Iowa. In fall 2020, he received Howard Community College’s Student Choice Award for faculty member of the year. Prior to joining the college, Dr. Muzzio taught for five years in the City Colleges of Chicago. His research interests include impacts of tourism on indigenous communities, revolutionary movements, and immigrant entrepreneurship in the U.S.

Tuesday, February 23 – “Inter(esting) Sex: Beyond the Binary”

Talk by Dr. Laura Cripps, professor of anthropology

In the words of Gloria Steinem, “the first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.” Debates on non-binary gender identities covering topics ranging from bathroom bills and educational curriculum to Sam Smith and Caitlyn Jenner have been grounded in assumptions of a binary biological classification of sex, with the supposition that gender fluidity is fundamentally unsupported by the sex-binary. Except, sex isn’t binary. This presentation will illustrate the differences between the identification of sex and gender and establish that the biological reality of non-binary sex has always been part of humanity.

About the Speaker: Dr. Laura Cripps is professor of anthropology and associate vice president of academic affairs at Howard Community College. Born and raised in Oxford, UK, her graduate research focused on archaeological methodologies and the construction of cultural identity in relation to social memories attached to the landscape.

Tuesday, March 9 – “What’s Going On? American Politics 1970–2020”

Talk by Dr. Michael Heffren, professor of social sciences

In 1970, the year that Howard Community College opened, the country was deeply divided with political protest, social unrest, conflicts over racism, and urban riots. Marvin Gaye wrote the song “What’s Going On” that year to ask the question, “Why?” We could ask that same question today. Is this a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same? In fact, it’s quite different. In this talk, trace the changes in American politics over the past 50 years and try to answer the question: “What’s Going On”?

About the Speaker: Dr. Michael Heffren received his B.A. from King’s College (Pennsylvania), and his M.A. and Ph.D from Rutgers University. His dissertation was entitled “The Decline of Liberalism in the United States: A Class Relations Perspective.” His area of specialization was political sociology. Dr. Heffren has been teaching full time at HCC since fall 2000 and currently serves as the coordinator for political science courses.

Tuesday, March 16 – “The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: Know Its Meaning and How It Protects Your Rights”

Talk by Evelyn Del Rosario, assistant professor of criminal justice

This talk delves into the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Learn the history of the Amendment, and its significance in protecting our privacy and limiting the power of the government.

About the Speaker: Assistant Professor Evelyn Del Rosario holds a master’s degree and law degree from the University of Baltimore, with concentrations in criminal and constitutional law. She is currently the coordinator of the criminal justice program at Howard Community College. During her time at HCC, she has instructed incoming recruits at the Howard County Police Department about criminal law and the Maryland judicial system. She previously served as legal counsel to national and multinational firms in Washington, DC, specializing in civil, constitutional, immigration, and criminal matters.

Tuesday, March 23 – “De-escalation Techniques from Behind the Wall”

Talk by Dr. Eric Clark, assistant professor of criminal justice

In the past several years, our American criminal justice system has been widely criticized for routine police encounters resulting in citizen deaths. Much of this scrutiny emanates from the failure to use de-escalation techniques, which have been found to be effective in correctional settings. This lecture seeks to examine how closed-custody correctional de-escalation methods could improve outcomes in police detention and arrest incidents with the public.

About the Speaker: Dr. Eric Clark earned his professional doctorate in criminal justice from California University of Pennsylvania, where his doctoral research was titled, “Identify Best Practices for Reducing Unnecessary Use of Force by Police When Making Arrest in Urban and Minority Neighborhoods.” Prior to becoming a full-time faculty member in 2017, he served as an adjunct instructor at Howard Community College. He is a retired law enforcement officer with the United States Marshals Service and consults as a certified legal expert on prisoner operations, use of force, and firearms safety.

This lecture series is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Columbia Patuxent. For more information about the lecture series or to RSVP, visit or email [email protected].



Arts & Culture

This press release was produced by Howard Community College. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

About the author

Mamie M. Arndt