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Q&A with UM Criminology, Government & Law Prof Julie Biskner

Kathy DeanEducation, Faculty Q&A, News, Sciences

Dr. Julie Biskner loves to travel with her family – but there’s more to the journey than fun and relaxation.

“I learned in graduate school that you cannot fully understand your own country until you see how it compares to others,” says the associate professor of government & law and criminology at the University of Mobile. “That principle shows up in many of my classes, including World Politics, International Relations, and even my criminology courses.”

Biskner is chair of the Christian university’s Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences. She serves as program coordinator for bachelor’s degree programs in criminology as well as government and law. She also sponsors UM’s mock trial team that regularly competes in national tournaments.

With an interest in psychology combined with a passion for political science, Biskner helps University of Mobile students look at the world from a broader perspective – a view that prepares them for success no matter what career they pursue.

We wanted to know more about the professor who prepares UM graduates for careers in law, politics, law enforcement and more.

Q. You have taught at UM since 2008. What is your background?

A. Thinking that I might become a therapist, I first earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology. During graduate school, I found myself drawn toward political science, and changed course. At the University of Virginia, I completed my PhD in government with a concentration in comparative politics. That focus on comparing – countries, political systems – affected how I think and teach today. I still love psychology, so I teach an introductory online course as well as political psychology.

Q. What was the focus of your dissertation?

A. I spent a wonderful week at the British National Archives outside of London doing research for my dissertation. I compared the outcomes of different separatist movements, including 20th century Ireland and Quebec. I think it’s important to understand how people get what they want from governments.

Q. Why did you choose to study and teach criminology?

A. Criminology is cross-disciplinary, so I get to indulge my interest in all the fields of social science. I enjoy exploring criminal justice in practical ways, including taking “citizens academy” courses with the Mobile Police Department, the FBI, and the City of Mobile. I am also a big fan of policing podcasts!