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I was involved in social causes and politics in college, but shortly after graduating I served as a VISTA Volunteer in Birmingham, Alabama. I worked with indigent defendants in a county jail as part of a pre-trial release program, sponsored by Miles College, a Historically Minority Serving Institution. This was an eye opening experience. My clients came from a different place. They were poor, many used drugs and many came from neighborhoods that lacked hope. I was horrified by what I saw and I knew then that I wanted to change some of the forces that led to the situations That I encountered. This was hard and often frustrating work.
After finishing my tour in VISTA, I decided to go to graduate school and work on this. I knew that I needed far better skills. While in graduate school, I worked for a National Center for Volunteers in Criminal Justice. I learned about the importance of citizenship and citizen action.
In my early career, I was a practitioner. I worked mostly in child welfare and criminal justice. Much of my work was in Appalachia. I have had the opportunity to make a difference. I continue to work with communities and organizations. My experience working with many committed people has informed my teaching and research in important ways. It is easy to look at a table of numbers and say that people are oppressed--its quite another matter to look someone in the face who has just experienced oppression first hand.
I started teaching at one of The University of Virginia branch campuses in 1980. For nearly 40 years I have had the privilege of working with a number of America's future leaders. My teaching posts have included Indiana University, Boston College, the University of South Carolina and the University of Delaware. I teach about nonprofit organizations and technology in public and nonprofit organizations.
For the past almost three decades, I have been an active contributor to research about technology and social change. When I first began my research in the mid 1990s, it was a rarely explored territory. Everyone was a pioneer and everything was new. It was exciting. I spent a lot of time defending myself from people who felt that this wasn't a serious topic for research. Then came Jessie Ventura, Howard Dean and Move On. This is now the mainstream and advocates who don't use these techniques are rapidly being considered dinosaurs.
I am currently looking at the role of data and data science in social change. This is an exciting new area and I can see data science adding substantially to the future of socoial change practice. While I think scholarship is important in itself, I strive to create scholarship that is useful for those whose efforts directly contribute to social change. I bring my understanding of practice to my research.
(c) 2001-2020 by John G. McNutt. All Rights Reserved. Limited Permission is Granted for Reproduction for Non-Commercial Educational Purposes provided that the material remain in its original form and proper credit is extended. Disclaimer: The content of all linked sites are beyond my control and I assume no responsibility for their content. Photos and artwork from the Microsoft Clip Art Gallery and my collection Revised 06/06/20