New Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Amber Morczek, Criminology

Dr. Amber Morczek is one of the newest faculty members to join Cottey College. With her background in criminology and her expertise in gender-based violence, Professor Morczek was the perfect candidate to assist in building Cottey’s expanded offerings in Criminology (available as both a major and minor).

Professor Morczek joined the faculty in fall of 2018. Her first semester at Cottey kept her busy as program coordinator for the new and developing program, planning new courses, writing class descriptions, and more. She also taught three essential introductory courses: The Criminal Justice System, Criminology, and Violence Against Women.

Despite the challenging subject matter, Professor Morczek says that Violence Against Women is one of her favorite classes to teach; she’s now taught it nine times at a few different institutions. “While we discuss and confront difficult topics every day, it’s especially impactful for students,” she says. The class explores topics such as patriarchy, gender roles, toxic masculinity, rape culture, intimate partner violence, and stalking.

These heavy topics can be a lot for students to handle, but it also gives them an opportunity to begin practicing the kind of self-care strategies for anyone who wants to pursue a productive career in a psychologically challenging field without getting burned out. Criminal justice professionals are often exposed to disturbing subjects, and Professor Morczek explains and models coping techniques and healthy strategies for students so they can continue to productively confront upsetting material.

Professor Morczek also makes it a point to host qualified experts and guest speakers in her classes. In fall 2018, those local experts included the Executive Director of the Council on Families in Crisis, the Vernon County Prosecutor, and members of the Nevada Police Department, as well as Missouri State Highway Patrol. These kinds of guest lectures offer students an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the local community and connect with leaders in the field.

This semester (spring 2019), Professor Morczek will be teaching the intro course again (Criminal Justice), along with two new courses: Corrections and Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice.

In the classroom Professor Morczek can draw on her own on-the-ground research and work in the field. Her dissertation focused specifically on the overlap between pornography and sexual violence. During the course of this research project, she examined about 10,000 videos on one of the most popular websites for pornography, tracking and analyzing the incidence of misogynistic terms in both content and user commentary.

She also has experience bringing students face-to-face with the criminal justice system in the real world. At a previous institution she oversaw a program that enabled undergraduate students in criminal justice and criminology to meet for “debate club” with incarcerated offenders pursuing an associate degree. The program is beneficial for both inmates and students on the outside. It offers inmates opportunities for improved self-esteem and outside connection, reducing rates of recidivism (meaning that when they get out of prison, they are more successful at integrating into society and less likely to commit future crimes). And it offers criminal justice students a more personal, human perspective on the system in which they aspire to work and lead.

Giving students the education and training to contribute positively to the criminal justice is key to the mission for Professor Morczek and one reason she was drawn to the role at Cottey. “I’m interested in empowering young women to enter the criminal justice system as practitioners,” she says. “After all, women are an asset to the field and are instrumental in improving the criminal justice system.”

Professor Morczek earned her Ph.D. in Criminal Justice & Criminology from Washington State University, her master’s in Criminal Justice from SUNY-Buffalo, and her B.A. in Psychology from State University of New York Institute of Technology.

In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with her two cats (Plankton and Beluga) and getting active outdoors with sports such as paddle-boarding and hiking.


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