Professor and Co-director Conflict Studies Program
After teaching young children in preschools and at Johns Hopkins Hospital Children’s Center, Colleen Bell completed her graduate work at the Universities of Wisconsin (MS, Child & Family Studies) and Illinois (PhD, Educational Policy Studies) and earned a certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution (HU School of Law). She has been teaching graduate and undergraduate students since 1986, at Hamline since 1990. Colleen has also taught at the University of Illinois, the College of St. Scholastica, the University of Tulsa, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs.
Colleen has contributed to two recent conference papers—both of which were developed collaboratively with students—one of which has addressed ‘blackface’ incidents on college campuses and the other of which presents a model for experiential learning and authentic assessment in theory courses. She is also in the process of documenting what social justice teaching and learning look like at one K-8 school in Minneapolis—Southside Family School—where teachers have been developing child-centered social justice curriculum for the last forty years.
On campus, Colleen has participated in racial justice programs such as Hamline University’s Conference on Race and Ethnicity and the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity and other social justice efforts such as the Queer to Peer (Q2P) mentoring program. In the Twin Cities community, Professor Bell facilitates racial dialogues for the Minneapolis YWCA’s racial justice program and co-facilitates weekend discussion circles in the Hennepin County women’s workhouse.
Professor Bell’s areas of teaching and scholarship include the relationship between conflict & social change, youth activism, incarcerated women and girls, and social justice pedagogy. She offers courses in Conflict Studies and Women’s Studies, many of which also meet electives and requirements in other programs such as Social Justice Studies, Criminal Justice Studies and Legal Studies. Courses Colleen offers regularly range from introductory level (Introduction to Conflict Studies, Foundations of Women’s Studies, Socially (Ir)Responsible Fashion) to intermediate level (Engendering Justice, The Role of Conflict in Social Change, Intergroup Dialogue on Race) and senior seminar.
Colleen’s work with students in classes is informed by assumptions about teaching and learning, and about power and oppression in US society. These assumptions are often topics of discussion and explored in readings and student projects. An example from 2013 WSTD 3500: Women, Conflict & Social Change syllabus: I believe that as students, you have the right to two basic expectations of me as your teacher. The first is an outline and details of the subject matter that is central to this course. The second is an idea of how I have come to my particular understandings of that subject matter. While I do not claim a comprehensive grasp of the dynamics of gendered and racialized violence, I will commit to sharing the sources and methods of my analysis of the content we are studying together.
"Hamline students have changed my professional commitments in fundamental ways. My understanding and practice of teaching is transformed weekly by students with whom I interact. When I arrived at Hamline in 1990, I was a dedicated scholar with teaching anxiety. I have become a dedicated teacher whose scholarship is inspired by learners."