University of New Mexico Professor Elizabeth Hutchison presented a talk at Columbia University as part of a forum titled “Beyond Prevalence: The Next Generation of Research on Campus Sexual Assault.”

The panel, held in the Case Lounge of Jerome Greene Hall at Columbia University’s Law School, was part of the “Reframing Gendered Violence” series hosted by CU’s Center for the Study of Social Difference. The Center is grounded in the idea that a consensus has emerged that campus sexual assault is a serious public health problem, and that innovative and effective prevention requires research that both includes and extends beyond simply measuring the scope of the problem.

Professor Elizabeth Hutchison
Professor Elizabeth Hutchison

The panel included new and emerging work on environmental drivers of sexual assault, a historian’s perspective on the institutional challenges of conducting research on campus sexual violence at universities seeking to comply with Title IX guidance, and research that shifts the focus from the characteristics of survivors to modifiable characteristics of perpetrators and social situations.

Hutchison, who is a professor of Latin American History and director of the UNM Feminist Research Institute, presented a progress report based on a UNM research group studying Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment (SVSH), a burgeoning topic nationally in recent years due in part to the increased enforcement by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) of Title IX provisions, as well as the expansion of interdisciplinary research networks examining SVSH in institutional settings (e.g., higher education, military, and religious).

Hutchison discussed UNM’s current obligation to address sexual violence and harassment under its DOJ agreement that provides a unique opportunity to evaluate outcomes and disseminate research results that will shape best practices in campus sexual violence prevention at the national level.

These studies will also allow UNM researchers to participate in emerging national research networks on campus sexual assault, including those at Columbia, Rutgers, and Oregon University, which are currently recruiting partners for cross-campus collaborative projects. In addition, the study results will have implications for efforts to combat sexual assault in other large organizations such as the U.S. military and private sector corporations.

Hutchison has worked at UNM since 1998. Her professional trajectory has been deeply shaped by the political and economic context of 20th-century Latin America, particularly U.S. intervention and the spread of authoritarian regimes. Concerns about social justice, democracy, and human rights have driven her engagement with Chilean history, as well as the study of labor, gender, and sexuality in 20th-century Latin America.

Additionally, since 2014, Hutchison has worked with Dr. Kimberly Gauderman on "Asylum Advocacy," a project to build a comprehensive network of expert witnesses available to testify on behalf of Latin American victims of domestic violence, LGBT discrimination, and mother-child detention. Director of the Feminist Research Institute, Hutchison also coordinates funding and activities for feminist faculty and graduate students at UNM, including interdisciplinary collaborations with feminist scholars in the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Law.  

In addition to Hutchison, the panel also featured other notable professors in the field including: Professor Leila Wood, from the University of Texas at the Stevie Hicks School of Social Work; Professor Jennifer Wagman, from the University of California at San Diego’s Division of Global Public Health, and Dr. Tammy Meredith, Principal and Co-Founder of Applied Research Services, co-presenting with Meg Bossong, from Williams College.