"What Can We Learn from Others?"

Qiang Xu, Department Chair and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice

Qiang Xu

Qiang Xu, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, has one question that motivates and inspires his work. “What can we learn from others?” This same question is one he hopes his students take to heart.

In his classes, he offers students a chance to learn about a variety of explantions to a problem and introduces them to various models of criminal justice systems. By providing them with broader perspectives, he hopes they will have an open mind when they enter the workforce. “Intense discussions are expected in class,” he says. “But, I insist on respect above all.” For students who plan to be police officers, he expects them to be the best, most compassionate officers they can be. He hopes that by understanding a variety of perspectives and approaches to situations, and learning issues from policy, community and law enforcement points of view, they will be able to do their best in their jobs. In addition, he encourages students to be “the social capital researchers needed in the field of criminal justice.”

The need for more social capital work is what drew him to the field and to his area of research. He focus is on crime mapping, using empirical data to determine patterns and offer alternatives that can improve community life and individual lives. He hopes that with more students entering the field with an understanding of how to approach and improve on social capital issues in terms of crime and recidivism, the gap between research and the field will fade. Although he admits that change will be gradual, he looks forward to the opportunity to work more with graduates, the South Bend Police Department, and organizations such as prisoner reentry programs like Companions on the Journey. He enjoys the opportunity to apply research to real life, and the opportunity to work with people.

Dr. Xu is currently serving as chair of the Criminal Justice department. Before moving into this role, he had the the opportunity to work Dr. Allen Anderson, the then-chair, on a book chapter addressing domestic violence. Dr. Xu had already been publishing and presenting papers regularly, so he was enthused by Dr. Anderson's invitation to co-write the chapter about domestic violence in Asian cultures. The book, The War Against Domestic Violence, is a well-regarded collection of approaches to a variety of domestic violence issues and is used in research and in classrooms. Ultimately, he hopes that his research will help influence policy.

With lots of help from mentors and advisors, he explains, he traveled from China to the American midwest to study. Although he and his peers were encouraged to seek out schools that focus on faculty research, he prefers the environment at IU South Bend. “Our efforts are appreciated more by students,” he explains. “A major research university has advantages and opportunity for publication, but large classes where sometimes students can’t be met.” He is quick to point out that IU South Bend is supportive of research efforts, and that in addition to that support he gets to know his students. For him, it’s pretty simple.  “They know me; I know them. I like to be appreciated and appreciate others.” Even the literal environment is a good fit for Dr. Xu. “I like the midwest. I like the weather. It is the same latitude as home in China,” he says. South Bend, a place he describes as a quiet, friendly town with just the right mix of weather, suits him well.

Photos: Melanie Joy Brown; Text: Krista Bailey