Joseph Palacios (Ph.D. 2001, Sociology, University of California, Berkeley) teaches in Georgetown University's Liberal Studies Program, Sociology Department, and the School of Foreign Service's Latin American Studies Program. Dr. Palacios brings to his academic career a wide experience in corporate diversity management, community organizing, and religious pastoral work among minorities and immigrants in the United States, Mexico, and Chile. He is an internationally recognized leader in the development of community-based learning and research programs.
I find myself telling students all the time that my graduate work at Berkeley gave me the tools for learning. I never took courses in what later became my fields of specialization, but my academic roots are clearly reflected in my approach to each of them. After my dissertation was published in 1984 as The State and Working Women: A Comparative Study of Britain and Sweden, I turned to a newly evolving interest in health care. It took me several years to learn the field and to place myself in it.
My graduate school application said something to the effect that I was interested in the relationship between knowledge and ideas, on the one hand, and power and authority, on the other. Berkeley didn't change that, but it helped me get it to the level of researchable problems. Philip Selznick and Philippe Nonet showed me that law was a logical focus for someone interested in culture in action and the role of rationality in modern life.
I became a Berkeley graduate student at a time when the sociology department was admitting large groups of students at a time. Many of us found the place bewilderingly impersonal, super competitive, and alienating. But stick it out most of did, and in my case, an important reason was the support provided by a large cohort of Chicano and Chicana graduate students on campus from different disciplines.
I was an older student with an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Social Science from San Francisco State when I arrived at Berkeley. As a married woman, with a big family, and many years of experience in volunteer work and paid work, I was not in sync with the other students who came in at my time. While I was there, I also worked part-time as the Executive Director of a small philanthropic fund which gave money away both locally and nationally to nonprofit activist organizations working on civil rights, environmental issues, peace, women's issue, and other social justice causes.