AMES, Iowa — Social planning and community development expert Sheryl-Ann Simpson will talk about community policing, digital policing and ways to move toward abolitionist policies in a lecture next week at Iowa State University.

An assistant professor of geography and environmental studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, Simpson will present “Abolition and Digital Citizenship: The Wash” at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 12, in Kocimski Auditorium, room 0101 College of Design.

“What do we need to feel and be safe? How can we be and feel that way without surveillance, policing harm and imprisonment? These are some of the questions that abolition asks of us,” Simpson says.

“At the same time, more of our world is being digitized and the digital, particularly when used in policing, is often used for surveillance and the automation of the work of policing, sentencing and imprisonment. So can the digital be used to help us answer abolitionist questions?”

In this talk, part of the College of Design’s 2022-2023 Lecture Series, Simpson will compare community policing and digital policing to provide a better understanding of the emerging practices of digital policing. She will ask the audience to think about the actions we might take as residents and communities to use the digital to move toward abolitionist policies, what she is calling “The Wash.”

About the speaker

Simpson’s research and teaching are informed by an interest in the ways in which states and communities interact in place. She explores how government policies and programs are implemented or translated into everyday experiences; how community members use, narrate and shape their environments; and in turn how those actions and stories influence new government policies and programs.

Simpson focuses on issues of citizenship and migration, and environmental justice and urban health. She combines quantitative, qualitative and interpretive spatial methods with participant observation, visual and sensory studies, archival research and community design and participatory methods.

All of her work is strongly informed by both feminist and critical perspectives. Bringing together ideas and action, and a focus on using methods and technology to promote increased social justice, are also important links within her research.

Simpson holds a bachelor of science in animal biology from McGill University, a master of arts in community development and planning from Clark University and a PhD in city and regional planning from Cornell University.


Jane Rongerude, Community and Regional Planning Associate Professor, jrong@iastate.edu
Olivia Valentine, College of Design Lectures and Exhibitions Committee Chair, ovalen@iastate.edu
Saylor Upah, College of Design Event Planner, upahsay@iastate.edu
Heather Sauer, College of Design Director of Strategic Planning, hsauer@iastate.edu