Dr. Barbara Combs Announced as SCJ Chair

KENNESAW, Ga. (May 25, 2022) — Beginning July 1st, Barbara Combs, J.D., Ph.D., will join the Norman J. Radow College of Humanities and Social Sciences as chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice. Combs comes to RCHSS from Clark Atlanta University where she was a tenured associate professor. Combs’ priorities as she steps into her new role align with KSU’s R2 Roadmap and fall under the broad umbrella of what she calls “Connections.” Combs says she seeks to promote interdisciplinary research, grow graduate enrollment, and support faculty and staff, so they are empowered and equipped to do the important work of supporting students and the larger community.

"I am incredibly impressed with the faculty's commitment to teaching, research and service. Many of them have won awards in each of these categories. It is apparent that it’s more than just lip-service. I look forward to building on and supporting them and their continuing efforts to 'foster a vibrant learning community in which students and faculty members interact as colleagues in a mutual process of respect and growth.'"

The RCHSS Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice (SCJ) prepares students to address the complex issues of diversity, justice, social change, and the modernization of practices through a curriculum that that builds data gathering and analysis, and applied research skills coupled with a focus on the social, political, and economic forces that shape our communities. “We are so excited to have Barbara Combs join the College. Her expertise in sociology, race, diversity, and equity combined with her depth of knowledge in law, sociology, and political science makes her an outstanding choice for this position,” said Dean Kaukinen. “The needs of our students are evolving and the demands of a career in criminal justice are rapidly changing. I have confidence that under Barbara Combs’ leadership, our students will graduate fully prepared to take on those career challenges and become effective professionals and researchers in the field.”

The SCJ department’s dual focus on student success and preparedness, whether for careers or advanced study, and faculty development and support, creates an essential environment for creative and ground-breaking research, enhanced community awareness and engagement, and a rigorous environment in which to hone critical reasoning, problem-solving and interpersonal and intercultural skills. “As an interdisciplinary scholar, I am eager to engage with our faculty to explore new ways to collaborate and engage with one another, both within the department and with the other departments and schools within Radow, to maximize our respective expertise for the benefit of our students, the college, and the community,” Combs added.

Barbara Harris Combs received her Ph.D. in Sociology with a concentration in race and urban studies from Georgia State University in 2010. She also holds a Juris Doctorate degree from The Ohio State University and an MA in English from Xavier University (Ohio). She brings this interdisciplinary background to her study of society. Dr. Combs is the author of From Selma to Montgomery: The Long

March to Freedom (Routledge, 2013). Her second book manuscript, Bodies Out of Place: Theorizing Anti Blackness in U.S. Society (University of Georgia Press), will be released Fall 2022. Todd C. Shaw, Kirk Foster and Barbara Harris Combs are currently collaborating on a manuscript titled Black Places of Empowerment: The 21st Century Communities of Black Politics, which is going under contract with Oxford University Press. She has published in a variety of academic journals including, Critical Sociology, Sociological Spectrum, American Behavioral Scientist, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, and the Journal of Urban Affairs. Her work has also been published in The Conversation, Contexts magazine (the official magazine of the American Sociological Association), and The New York Times’ Room for Debate. She is the recipient of several fellowships and awards including dissertation grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and fellowships from the Racial Democracy Crime and Justice Network (RDCJN), United Negro College Fund-Mellon (UNCF-Mellon), James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference (JWJI) at Emory University and the Faculty Leaders Program at Pardee Rand Graduate School. Her 2017 article, “No Rest for the Weary: The Weight of Race, Gender, and Place Inside and Outside a Southern Classroom” won the 2018 Winner Kimberlé Crenshaw Outstanding Article Award, Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), Division on Racial and Ethnic Minorities (DREM).