Shannon Harper, assistant professor of sociology in criminal justice studies, joined Iowa State’s sociology department this fall. Harper previously was at the University of Illinois—Chicago, where she earned her master’s degree and Ph.D. in criminology, law and justice. She also holds a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis in domestic violence from the University of Colorado Denver, and a bachelor’s degree in communications and gender studies from the University of Utah.
Harper is excited about the opportunities that Iowa State has to offer, such as teaching fun, new criminal justice courses for both the sociology department and the Latino/a Studies Program. She is also eager to research the crime landscape across Iowa.
“Securing a position with a renowned R1 research university like Iowa State was a great moment for me, especially since I was right out of grad school,” Harper said.
This semester, Harper is teaching Criminal Justice Studies 240, where she enjoys interacting with students.
“The students are very respectful and intelligent. I get thoughtful, innovative answers to questions, and they seem really interested and engaged in the material,” she said.
Harper hopes to instill in her students a solid understanding of the criminal justice system, and help them discover ways to enhance it.
“I want students to think critically, to understand the areas or issues that aren’t working as well in the criminal justice system and how they—as criminal justice practitioners in their future careers—can help improve areas of concern,” she said.
In addition to teaching, Harper is juggling several research projects. She is examining her dissertation, which looks at victims of severe domestic violence and how they seek help in their communities as well as intimate partner homicide trends across neighborhoods. In addition, she’s exploring data that compares how police officers in the U.S. and Australia perceive domestic violence, and analyzing a separate data set to investigate the relationship between homicide victims and offender arrest histories.
When she’s not teaching or conducting research, Harper enjoys hiking, going to concerts, bingeing Netflix, exploring museums and cultural attractions, reading and playing with her chocolate lab, Gwen.