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Social Justice Advocates Can Learn Practical Strategies for Legislative Reform In Violence Against Women Seminar

Carol E. Jordan, executive director of the University of Kentucky's Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women, taught a Political Science seminar during the fall semester 2017 based on her book, "Violence Against Women in Kentucky: A History of U.S. and State Legislative Reform." The seminar, which Jordan has also taught in previous fall semesters through the Political Science Department, takes a hands-on approach to teaching students about legislative reforms accomplished to advance the end of violence in narrow terms, and the advancement of social justice in broader terms.

Jordan says her book, Violence Against Women in Kentucky, published by University Press of Kentucky, offers examples of the various forms of violence against women through true stories of survivors and family members. The book also details legislative reforms accomplished in Kentucky from 1970 through 2010.

"The book is more than just a legislative history however, it is a living example of how a fervent desire to improve conditions for people who have faced injustice can turn into policy, into legislation, and finally into the absence of violence and injustice" she said.

Jordan hopes the seminar and the book are an effective way to engage her students throughout the semester. "I believe the most effective way to learn the material found within the book is through an experiential format." The course includes a visit to a local battered women's shelter, guest lectures from survivors and advocates; and presentations from people who, like Professor Jordan, were actually involved in the decades of legislative reforms.

During the course, students develop their own legislative proposals that relate to violence against women specifically.  As part of that experience, they made presentations to an actual legislative committee in Frankfort.

"Perhaps the most important lesson students will learn is that anything can be achieved with the dedication of human effort," Jordan said. "Changing the law to better protect women and children was certainly challenging to accomplish, but we found a pathway to do it; a path that others can follow in their own quest to advocate for a cause."

The Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women is part of the College of Arts and Sciences. The Violence Against Women seminar course is offered through the Department of Political Science (PS 492-001), but is open to open to a variety of majors.


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