© 2019 Robert Stewart.

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of Minnesota. In my scholarship and community engagement, I draw on the sociologies of punishment, education, law, and inequality. In my dissertation, Criminal Records & College Admissions, I consider the case of criminal history disclosure requirements in the college admissions process. The first peer-reviewed article from this project is forthcoming in Criminology (pdf). Preliminary findings from this research have been cited in media outlets such as The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Marshall Project. Other projects focus on the production and accuracy of criminal records; state-imposed debt in the criminal justice and child support systems; felon disenfranchisement and voting rights restoration; and the "piling on" effect of criminal records.

I am an advocate of public sociology/criminology. I firmly believe that communicating our work effectively to policymakers, practitioners, and, most of all, the public, is a fundamental part of the work. Thus, community and university engagement are important aspects of my scholarly profile. I am currently the Research Director of the Minnesota Justice Research Center, a local nonprofit working to improve the justice system through high-quality and accessible research, policy development, and education. I have been an active member of the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition (SCC) and have served on the Board of Directors since 2015. The SCC is a bipartisan coalition that advocates for policy and practice reforms that remove  barriers for justice-involved people and limit the adverse impacts of the justice system on individuals, their families, and their communities.

I have served in various capacities within the university to advocate for administrative changes and promote access and equity throughout the University of Minnesota System. For example, as Chair of the University of Minnesota Student Senate (2015-2016), I successfully led the effort to remove the felony conviction screening question from the undergraduate application. As Director of University Relations for the Council of Graduate Students, I also worked with the University Provost and the President's Chief of Staff to establish a Graduate Student Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

I have been invited to speak at various events and panels, testify before the Minnesota State Legislature multiple times, and advise various agencies. I've been appointed to the Minnesota Statewide Initiative to Reduce Recidivism Executive Steering Committee (by Governor Walz), the  MN DOC Community MnSTARR Implementation Task Force (by Commissioner Schnell), the Steele County Community Corrections Advisory Board (by County Attorney McIntosh), and to serve as Special Dispositional Advisor for the State Public Defender's Office.

I am thankful that I have had the opportunities to do what I do, but of course there's more to life. Outside of work, I spend a lot of time working out...and by that I mean chasing around our toddler who can climb faster than a squirrel on fire, or trying to coerce our 5-month old to take a nap. And of course, as a born and bred Minnesotan, I am perpetually preparing myself for another crushing late season Vikings collapse.