Heather Mooney Faculty Portrait

Heather Mooney

Program Director, Criminal Justice & Homeland Security Studies
Co-Program Director, Criminal Justice & Homeland Security Studies/Psychology (Dual Major)
Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice & Homeland Security Studies

PhD, Boston University, Sociology, 2022
MA, Simmons University, Gender and Cultural Studies, 2013
MS, Simmons University, Education, 2013
BA, Clark University, Sociology and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies, 2011

Division: Social & Behavioral Sciences
305 Eddy Hall

Formally trained as a sociologist with a strong background in critical theory and interdisciplinary studies, I am broadly interested in the intersections of race, gender, and emotion in relation to social constructions of crime and deviance. I use mixed methods from the social sciences and humanities to link micro and macro-conceptions of culture to better understand identity and the "felt" experience of/engagement with the state.

My current research examines race and gender in the production and consumption of true crime, a genre that typically features and is engaged by White college educated women between the ages of 18 and 35. Here, I examine how raced and gendered subject positions inform “dark leisure” practices (such as dark tourism), as well as perceptions of risk and vulnerability, crime and violence, and criminal justice more broadly. My other ongoing project examines the relationship between care and control-based interventions to addiction and overdose, a condition that is simultaneously medicalized and criminalized. Using the ongoing opioid epidemic in Massachusetts, USA, as a case study, I explore how “state adjacent” actors working in care fields in a progressive state manage shared grief and death related to opioid use, and how they make decisions around therapeutic and/or punitive interventions for their service population. 

I am also an invested teacher with experience working with all ages of students, particularly undergraduates in a variety of higher education settings, and I recently co-authored a paper on social theory pedagogy. As college is much more than just the classroom experience, I have also developed and piloted undergraduate mentoring programming, several diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, and supported undergraduates in a variety of research and professionalization capacities. Prior to my academic career, I served as the Teen Services Coordinator for the Rape Crisis Center of Central Massachusetts (now Pathways for Change) as a counselor and medical and legal advocate for child and teenage survivors of sexual violence, as well as a violence prevention educator in middle schools, high schools, universities, as well as in institutional and organizational settings.