UTEP College of Education Faculty Member, Dr. Jesus Cisneros, receives the 2023 NASPA Outstanding Publication Award
EL PASO, Texas (April 26, 2023)
Jesús Cisneros, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Foundations, and three other colleagues were recently recognized by the NASPA Faculty Council and Faculty Assembly for their outstanding work in editing and publishing two books:
- Queerness as Being in Higher Education: Narrating the Insider/Outsider Paradox as LGBTQ+ Scholars and Practitioners
- Queerness as Doing in Higher Education: Narrating the Insider/Outsider Paradox as LGBTQ+ Scholars and Practitioners
In the following Q&A, Cisneros shares his perspective on the two-book project, its relevance to professionals in higher education, and the experiences of LGBTQ+ scholars and practitioners in academia.
Congratulations on being recognized for your work on Queerness as Being and Doing in Higher Education. What were your main goals for editing and publishing these books?
The perspectives and narratives of LGBTQ+ higher education scholars and practitioners are not frequently centered in research (Renn, 2010). This two-book project features firsthand accounts of how LGBTQ+ higher education scholars and practitioners navigate the phenomenon of being simultaneously insiders and outsiders with regard to their communities and institutions. This two-book project is positioned to intervene in the literature on LGBTQ+ scholars and practitioners in higher education by exploring the ways that groups and individuals experience the insider/outsider paradox within postsecondary contexts. Namely, the aim of these books is to identify and name the intersections of these paradoxes by bringing these perspectives into the center of analysis and revealing the aspects of reality obscured by heteronormative approaches. Sharing the stories of individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ higher education scholars and practitioners, these books take up the important question of what it means to occupy both positions of oppression within society and degrees of privilege within institutional settings.
How do you think that winning this award sheds light on this topic?
This award recognizes the value of diverse perspectives, such as those of LGBTQ+ scholars and practitioners, in the pursuit of inclusive excellence among institutions of higher education. These perspectives are necessary to illustrate the challenges and opportunities that exist, as queer and trans people in academic and student affairs attempt to move the needle toward equity by mobilizing scholarship, pedagogy, and practice. This two-book project was a labor of love, composed in community, by community, and with community. Collaborating with fellow queer-identified scholars and practitioners was affirming and empowering for asking more questions, raising more tensions, and repairing and reconstituting parts of ourselves lost to the tug and pull of the insider/outsider paradox within our professional experiences. As a faculty member, I can see the application of these texts within my own experiences and on my campus. More importantly, its relevance extends even to the classroom, not only for graduate and professional preparation programs in educational leadership and administration but also for programs in other disciplines, such as women, gender, and sexuality studies, ethnic studies, sociology, counseling, American studies, and psychology. As someone who teaches methodology courses, the texts have been useful for showcasing and operationalizing queer methods of inquiry in the classroom and equipping students with methodological tools. The focus on LGBTQ+ communities and other intersecting social identities makes this publication relevant for connecting theory to practice and reflecting on institutional power, privilege, and oppression.
How do you think this will impact the College of Education directly?
Particularly meaningful about this two-book project is that it is relevant to various audiences due to its attention to the often-unarticulated tensions that exist in navigating queer identities and politics on higher education campuses, as LGBTQ+ scholars and practitioners seek to resist institutional norms and values exerting ideological and coercive control over LGBTQ+ bodies. Because this two-book project speaks to the experiences of both LGBTQ+ scholars and practitioners, these texts are of relevance to professionals at all levels within a college or university, including from across academic and student affairs (e.g., provosts, academic deans, deans of students, vice presidents of student affairs). This two-book project is a vehicle of multiple dialogues happening among and between its chapters, with contributors engaging in various forms of autoethnographies and practices of reflexivity. These engagements call on others to relate (with the authors or themselves) through dialogic exchanges, inviting other LGBTQ+ scholars and practitioners to also narrate their own navigations of the insider/outsider paradox.
Texts such as these are uncommon—few personal narratives of LGBTQ+ scholars and practitioners in academic and student affairs exist (e.g., Garvey, 2017; Renn, 2019). Featuring the narratives and personal reflections of more than 50 LGBTQ+ scholars and practitioners (including the editors), this two-book contribution to the field of education is both meaningful and significant for understanding oppression, privilege, and power and the interconnections between leadership and advocacy for LGBTQ+ identities.
Garvey, J. (2017). Pedagogical pause: Uncovering the queerness of my classroom emotions. The Vermont Connection, 38(1), 16–23.
Renn, K. A. (2010). LGBT and queer research in higher education: The state and status of the field. Educational Researcher, 39(2), 132–141.
Renn, K. A. (2019). Working with intention and in tension: Evolving as a scholar-activist. In K. Strunk & L. Locke (Eds.), Research methods for social justice and equity (pp. 283–288). Palgrave.