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Megan Stanton - Assistant Professor, Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology and Social Work

Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania


Megan StantonDescribe how you arrived at Eastern

“I am proud to be an eastern Connecticut native. I grew up just a few miles from campus. After leaving the area for school and work opportunities, I came back about 10 years ago to raise my family here and be a part of the community I love. It is a true joy to have the opportunity to also join the Eastern community and it is an honor to train the future social workers of Eastern Connecticut and beyond. It also makes me extra accountable to the ethics of community-based learning and research since I live where I work.” 


What is your favorite course to teach?

“I genuinely love all the courses that I teach If I had to choose, I would probably lift up my Social Welfare Policy class. I find that my students come to social work with a burning desire to make the world a better place. Our social policy class helps students harness that passion into action through understanding the policy history that undergirds modern social problems and the policy systems and structures that can be leveraged to facilitate social change. This culminates in our yearly ‘Social Action Day' during which students get a taste of real-life policy advocacy.”

Describe your research

“Broadly, my work examines how health and social service organizations can adopt trauma-informed and harm-reduction oriented approaches to care. Central to this is understanding how structural oppression influences community members' access to and engagement with care, as well as how power shapes health intervention implementation practices. I currently serve as the Director of Research and Evaluation at the SUSTAIN Center, which is based at the University of Houston, and we have recently been awarded a large grant from the Elton John AIDS Foundation to implement our trauma informed organizational change intervention with HIV service organizations in Texas.”

Social work students are dedicated and curious and our courses are all geared toward real-world action and social change. This makes for a dynamic and challenging (in a good way) classroom environment.

Megan Stanton teaching in front of class

What do you find most rewarding about teaching at Eastern?

“I love that at Eastern broadly — and in the Social Work Program specifically — students are challenged to grapple with real-world problems and are trusted to pursue real-world actions to address those problems. This is a rewarding environment in which to teach because it takes higher education out of the abstract and into the weeds. It breathes life into the core objectives of liberal arts education — to develop critical thinking skills, to engage with important ethical questions and to have an open and curious mind.”

Career Advice for students

“A social work education opens up incredibly diverse opportunities! It's a wild ride. You can be a therapist, you can run for office, you can work with families, you can lead a social movement, you can advocate on Capitol Hill, you can use art to affect social change, you can run a non-profit... It’s nearly limitless.”

Advice about life after college

“I never could have imagined the path I took to get to where I am now. I went from working for a traveling children’s theater in Montana right after college, to learning about human rights abuses in Guatemala, to facilitating social work groups in prisons, to researching public health interventions with sex workers in Kolkata, India, to supporting the next generation of social workers in my hometown. I made a lot of mistakes along the way, but the things I most consistently did right were to take risks and give things a try; be really curious and learn what I can from every situation; and build and maintain relationships.”