GU’s political science department has a new professor in the mix. His name is R. Kyle Alagood, and he’s a lawyer who fights for civil rights.
In terms of his decision to teach Political Science at the higher education level, Alagood decided the presidential election season would be a great time.
“I came to Gannon because I thought this would be an interesting time to teach politics with the backdrop of this year’s election,” Alagood said. “I looked at schools with vacancies for political science and thought it was a good opportunity to help students process important information.”
If he could give advice to any student who is not in one of his classes about making a decision, he would say to listen to people with opposing opinions because it is important to figure out how they got to their conclusions. Alagood is a strong believer in challenging your own political beliefs in order to figure out why you believe what you believe. The number one mistake he sees people making is that people seek out information in an echo chamber.
Alagood said, “If you’re already leaning liberal, seeking out info that is liberal does not challenge you. If you do this, it might not hurt you, but it certainly does not help you challenge your views.”
Alagood’s main passion is human rights, which led him to becoming a lawyer.
“I grew up very poor and developed an understanding of the struggles other people face, and that led me to want to do work that helps people deal with own personal struggles,” Alagood said. “I am a lawyer by training, so I have a J.D. (Juris Doctor Degree) and worked for many years on issues relating to national security and government transparency.”
In his home state of Louisiana, he worked with the Louisiana State University (LSU) Law Center’s Parole and Reentry Clinic as a student attorney, where he represented indigent incarcerated felons in their parole hearings. Alagood said it gave him the opportunity to go into Louisiana’s state prisons, meet with offenders and prison officials and learn first-hand about the corrections system in the United States.
“Parole is important to me because oftentimes prisoners are forgotten,” said Alagood.
Alagood also worked as a Research Associate for the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice in NYC from 2010 until 2012, and he continued working on special projects there until 2015. The Brennan Center is at the forefront of law-driven civil rights in the United States.
While working as a Research Associate, he spent a great deal of time filing freedom of information and public records requests with state and local governments to gather data on how intelligence activities are carried out.
“In 2012, a response from the New York City Police Department to one of our requests disclosed that nearly 1,500 NYC cops had been shown an anti-Muslim film during training,” Alagood said. “We discovered that the police had lied to the public about the prevalence of the film in training. Outcry over the discovery helped build further support for outside oversight of the NYPD’s activities in minority communities.”
As part of his job at the Brennan Center, Alagood began writing for the Huffington Post in the summer of 2013.
“I had done extensive research and writing on national security and government transparency,” said Alagood. “I wrote an op-ed urging Congress to examine the impact of the WikiLeaks organization’s release of State Department cables, particularly the amount of unnecessary secrets the State Department had tried to keep.”
Recently, he has taken to the Huffington Post to write about important issues of government, civil rights, and civil liberties in the United States.
“It’s an important platform for sharing ideas and getting people to think deeply about current events.”
Find more of Alagood’s published works on his website, here.