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Social Sciences Lecture Series

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Howard Community College (HCC) hosted a series of virtual lectures showcasing professors from the Social Sciences and Teacher Education Division during the months of February and March. Faculty spoke 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. 

Free and open to the public, this series was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Columbia Patuxent. 




Recorded Lectures 

(click the links to view recordings of past presentations)

"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 Dr. Eric Clark

    Dr. Eric Clark, assistant professor of criminal justice, obtained his professional doctorate in criminal justice from California University of Pennsylvania in May 2020. Prior to becoming a full-time faculty member in 2017, he served as an adjunct instructor at Howard Community College. Dr. Clark is a retired federal law enforcement officer with the United States Marshals Service. 

    Dr. Clark’s doctoral research was titled “Identify Best Practices for Reducing Unnecessary Use of Force by Police When Making Arrests in Urban and Minority Neighborhoods.” He consults as a certified legal expert in prisoner operations, use of force, and firearms safety. His research interests include combat sports, the Fourth Amendment and use of force, and social justice initiatives.


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 Evelyn Del Rosario

    Evelyn Del Rosario, assistant professor of criminal justice, is the coordinator of the criminal justice program at Howard Community College.

    Ms. Del Rosario holds a master’s degree and law degree from the University of Baltimore, with concentrations on criminal and constitutional law. Prior to coming to HCC, Ms. Del Rosario served as legal counsel to various national and multi-national firms in Washington, D.C. specializing in civil, constitutional, immigration and criminal manners.

    During her tenure at HCC, Ms. Del Rosario served as an instructor at the Howard County Police Department where she taught incoming recruits pertinent criminal law as well as the applicable rules and procedures in the Maryland judicial system.  

    Ms. Del Rosario has conducted a number of talks on campus on such legal matters as: “A Debriefing of the U.S. Elections,” “Immigration: How Has it Defined Who We are as Americans,” and “Eugenics and U.S. Immigration Law.”  

    She has collaborated with the African-American Community Roundtable in Howard County and the Howard County Police Department to facilitate a number of community and campus-wide events, including a community-led Q & A with top police department officials and a webinar discussing the death of George Floyd.

    Ms. Del Rosario has also collaborated with the Baltimore Sun, and has been cited for her contribution in providing data on the rise of hate crimes in the county and across the country since the presidential elections of 2016.

"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 Dr. Michael Heffren

    Dr. Michael Heffren, professor of social sciences, 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. During his time at HCC, he has served as president of the Faculty Forum and also as co-chair of the Middle States Self-Study in 2010.

“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 Dr. Alejandro Muzzio
    Dr. Alejandro Muzzio was born in Rhode Island. He holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Iowa. Prior to coming to Howard Community College in fall 2019, he 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 US. Teaching has always been a passion and HCC has allowed many opportunities for his growth in pedagogy, online instruction, Universal Designs for Learning, and use of technology. In fall 2020, he received the HCC Student Choice Award for faculty member of the year. His free time is spent exploring the trails and ponds around Columbia, Maryland, with his family.

"Inter(esting) Sex: Beyond the Binary”

Talk by Dr. Laura Cripps, professor of anthropology and geography
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 Dr. Laura Cripps
    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. Her favorite activities outside of teaching and working with students, include hiking with her husband and son and attempting to grow vegetables. Her favorite thing about HCC is the sense of community that exists between staff and students, and the positive outcomes for student success that result.


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