Anthony J. Nocella II, Ph.D., award-winning author, community organizer, and professor is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminology, Gender and Women’s Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, and Environmental Studies at Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado. He is an Executive Director of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, National Co-coordinator of Save the Kids, and co-founder and Editor of the Peace Studies Journal.
He received his doctorate in Social Science (the first interdisciplinary doctorate degree in the U.S.) in December 2011 from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and a masters in Foundations of Education in May 2008 from the School of Education, both at Syracuse University. Also from Syracuse University, he received in 2005 a graduate certificate in International Conflict Management and another in Women’s and Gender Studies. His degrees from Syracuse University were funded as a scholar and fellow from the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC), one of the first programs in the world dedicated to peace and conflict studies. He also received a graduate certificate in Mediation in 2002 and a masters in Peacemaking and Conflict Studies in December 2003 from Fresno Pacific University (one of the first programs offering education and research in restorative justice). He received his undergraduate degree in political science with a concentration in pre-law and public administration in May 2000 from University of St. Thomas.
Nocella is a scholar grounded in the field of education, justice studies, and peace and conflict studies. He is internationally known for his innovative, transformative, and intersectional collaborations among fields of study, social movements, scholars, organizations, and community organizers.
Nocella has more than eight years experience teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in higher education. He has taught at Hamline University, St. Cloud State University, North Hennepin Community College, State University of New York Cortland, Le Moyne College, and Syracuse University. Nocella was a faculty advisor of PRIDE at Syracuse University; the Student Association on Terrorism and Security Analysis at Le Moyne College; Criminology Club and Meeting Advocacy with Dis/Ability student club at SUNY Cortland; and the Hip Hop Collective and Education Club at Hamline University.
Dr. Nocella has published more than fifty scholarly articles or book chapters and nineteen books (in twelve different presses); his most recent books include “From Education to Incarceration: Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline” (Peter Lang Publishing 2014), “Greening the Academy: Ecopedagogy Through the Liberal Arts ” (Sense Publishing 2012), “Defining Critical Animal Studies: An Intersectional Social Justice Approach for Liberation” (Peter Lang Publishing 2013), “The Global Industrial Complex: Systems of Domination” (Lexington Books 2011), “Earth, Animal, and Disability Liberation: The Rise of the Eco-Ability Movement” (Peter Lang Publishing 2012), “Terrorization of Dissent: Corporate Repression, Legal Corruption, and the Animal Enterprise Terrorism ACT” (Lantern Books 2014), “Educating for Action: Strategies to Ignite Social Justice” (New Society Press 2014), and “The End of Prisons: Reflections from the Decarceration Movement” (Rodopi 2013).
Nocella is the Executive Director of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies and the field of critical animal studies. Nocella has co-founded and is the Editor of the Peace Studies Journal. He is also a director of the Academy for Peace Education which provides community organizer, facilitation/mediation, and peacemaking workshops/trainings to college students in the field of peace and conflict studies. He also co-founded is the Executive Director of Save the Kids, a national fully-volunteer organization with more than ten chapters across the U.S. dedicated to alternatives to and the end of the incarceration of youth and youth violence. Nocella is also part of the Arissa Media Group editorial collective, a peer-reviewed social justice press and is the series co-editor of the Critical Animal Studies and Theory Book Series with Lexington Books and book series co-editor of Poetry Behind the Walls (one of the only ongoing publications dedicated to writing by youth that are incarcerated) with Arissa Media Group.
For the last twelve years, Dr. Nocella has guest lectured, provided professional development trainings (in the area of equity and justice and conflict transformation and transformative justice), and facilitated youth workshops for hundreds of school districts, universities, colleges, high schools, middle schools, and many prisons and detention facilities around the U.S., such as Onondaga County School District, St. Cloud School District, Hillbrook Juvenile Detention Facility, Auburn Prison, Five Points Prison, Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Facility, Environmental Protection Agency, Brock University, UCLA, Hofstra University, New York University Law School, Rutgers University Law School, Boston College, University of Pennsylvania, Haverford College, Swarthmore College, University of Texas, Yale University, and Princeton University. He also co-founded a G.E.D. program in Auburn prison, served on the board of the American Friends Service Committee, and currently acts as a facilitator in adult prisons with the Alternatives to Violence Project and Executive Director of the Central New York Peace Studies Consortium.
Internationally, from 2000 to 2004, Nocella participated in peacemaking efforts with the Christian Peacemaker Teams and Mennonite Central Committee throughout South and Central America, especially Colombia.
Nocella has more than five years experience in office management, degree program administration, website and blog design and management, video editing, publicity (through social media), hosting and organizing (galas, conferences, debates, town hall meetings, workshops, Skype conferences, livestreaming, and webinars), and designing promotional materials such as brochures, merchandise, and flyers.
AREAS OF EXPERTISE
peace and conflict studies, social justice education, school to prison pipeline, mediation, negotiation, facilitation, urban education, critical pedagogy, disability studies/pedagogy, critical criminology, environmental education/justice/studies, ecopedagogy, juvenile justice/youth culture, transformative justice, hip hop studies, race, class, equity and diversity, gender and sexuality studies, qualitative methodology, critical animal studies, eco-ability, and justice studies.
Anthony J. Nocella II began to become socio-politically conscious while growing up in Philadelphia, PA at a radical, inclusive social justice LGBTTQQIA church: First United Methodist Church of Germantown and attending Delaware Valley Friends School (DVFS) a Quaker school for students with learning differences. After leaving Philadelphia to Houston with his family, while at Briarwood High School, a segregated school for students with disabilities, he began to volunteer at the Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Memorial Arboretum & Nature Center, and Sierra Club. During that time he began to be conscious of animal rights, Food not Bombs, and Earth First!, and he became vegetarian.
After graduating high school, he was a student at Stephen F. Austin State University, then Houston Community College, and finally University of St. Thomas in Houston, TX where he also attended Live Oak Quaker Meeting. During his undergraduate education he founded People Animal for Rights (PAR) in 1996, which aided in his becoming president of the Houston Animal Rights Team (HART) from 1996 to 2002. During that time period, he also co-founded a number of grass-roots organizations including Houston Earth First!(1997), Texas Animal Rights (2000), Texas Earth First!, Center for Animal Liberation Affairs (2001), LibNow! (2002), and Radical Education Community (REC) (1998), a twice yearly grass-roots activist training camp that moved throughout Texas and had an average attendance of about one-hundred and fifty people. REC trained people to organize actions at many global protests including the Battle in Seattle, World Bank protest in Washington D.C., and the Fortune 500 protest in Austin, TX. Nocella provided activist first aid training, know your rights, direct action, conflict transformation, and security culture workshops. During this time, Nocella was arrested for civil disobedience numerous times for animal liberation, human rights, and environmental issues; these arrests included being the first animal rights activist framed for drug possession even though he lived and promoted a fully alcohol/drug-free lifestyle. He engaged in other acts of civil disobedience leading to arrests, such as closing off a highway on a tripod, serving food to the homeless with Houston Food not Bombs, attempting to repel off a bridge with a banner in Corpus Christi, TX and protesting fur stores in Beverly Hills, CA. From 1998 to 2000, he was also a Texas Representative for Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and National Forest Protection Alliance (NFPA), where he traveled around Texas facilitating community meetings and organizing protests.
In 2001, Nocella co-founded the Center for Animal Liberation Affairs, which was renamed the Institute for Critical Animal Studies (ICAS) in 2006, an international intersectional total liberation scholar-activist center grounded in activism and animal liberation dedicated to examining, explaining, and supporting radical and revolutionary movements, actions, and groups. With ICAS, he also co-founded the Green Theory and Praxis Journal, Journal for Critical Animal Studies, and the field of critical animal studies.
After his undergraduate schooling, Nocella went to Fresno Pacific University for graduate school and again became involved in social justice, including Food Not Bombs, Pacifica Radio, Student Action Front, Fresno Earth First!, Fresno Animal Rights, and protesting sweatshop clothing at The Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic. He was also a youth representative on the board of the Fresno Center for Nonviolence, a board member of Live Oak Alliance, and a mediator with the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program. From 2001 to 2004, he engaged in peacemaking work in Colombia and other countries in South and Central America with Christian Peacemaker Teams, American Friends Service Committee, and Mennonite Central Committee. While in Fresno, he also attended Fresno State University and co-organized the Revolutionary Environmentalism conference with Mark Somma and Mike Becker. During this period, he organized activist trainings for local and international organizations including Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Earth First!, Peace Action, Pax Christi, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), ADAPT, American Friends Service Committee, and United Farm Workers (UFW). Concurrently, he also provided hundreds of presentations and talks on the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) throughout the United States, continuing from his undergraduate years, which led him to be one of the most published scholars and activists on the ALF in the world. He also volunteered in Fresno for the United Farm Workers and Community Alliance.
While still working on his Master’s degree at Fresno Pacific University, he went to Dallas, TX in early 2002 to take a community organizer position with the Dallas Peace Center, a position as Texas Representative of Texas Peace Action, and a Representative Assistant post with Texas Representative Lon Burnam. He also co-founded Out Cry, a Texas-wide animal and Earth liberation newspaper, which lasted until 2004.
After leaving Dallas in August 2002, still holding to radical grass-roots politics, he became a lobbyist with Sierra Club in Washington D.C. and began to organize with local animal rights activists, leading to an internship with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), where he dedicated his time to developing PETA2 and the March of Crimes campaign.
In Spring 2003, he briefly attended the University of Houston for a Master’s in Social Work, which he did not complete. During that semester, however, he co-founded Students for Peace, helping to arrange their biggest action: repelling off a bridge and closing down a highway to protest the War in Iraq, resulting in an arrest. From 1999 to 2003, he volunteered and wrote for the Houston Peace Newspaper and Houston Peace and Justice Center.
In Fall 2003, Nocella finished his Master’s in Peacemaking and Conflict Studies at Fresno Pacific University and moved to Syracuse, NY to attend Syracuse University for his doctorate degree in Social Science and Master’s in Foundations of Education. At Syracuse University, he co-founded Syracuse Animal Rights Organization (SARO), Outdoor Empowerment, Central New York Earth First! and the Student Association on Terrorism and Security Analysis. He also co-founded Revolt! in 2005; similar to REC, it provided activist trainings, and in 2008 was renamed Academy for Peace Education (APE).
Nocella still directs APE and has trained over five thousand participants therein. In the Syracuse community, Nocella became a weekly facilitator for Alternatives to Violence Project at Auburn, Attica and Five Points prisons. Nocella also became a board member of the American Friends Service Committee and co-founded a GED program for prisoners at Auburn Prison. In 2008, he worked as a teacher and Program Director at Hillbrook Juvenile Detention Facility. In 2009, he helped found Save the Kids (STK) with four Black youth (Ali, Amound, Jason, and Jahari) at Hillbrook Juvenile Detention Facility. STK is now a fully-volunteer national grass-roots organization leading for the end of all youth incarceration. STK led him to receive the Onondaga Adult Volunteer working with Youth Award in 2009 and the New York Juvenile Detention Employee of the Year Award in 2009. In 2010, he created two other programs: the first low-level ropes course in a New York detention facility and the first Hip Hop music studio in a juvenile detention facility in the country. As Executive Director of STK, he provided life skills, Hip Hop, and conflict transformation workshops in almost every juvenile detention facility in NY on a weekly basis while also teaching at Le Moyne College and SUNY Cortland in Sociology, Education, and Criminology from 2008 to 2011.
As a pragmatist and prison abolitionist against punitive justice, he provided workshops addressing institutions that foster cultures of oppression and conflict resolution for the Onondaga County probation officers, Syracuse Police Department, correctional officers in juvenile detention facilities, and at the FBI Academy’s course with West Virginia University. In 2008, Nocella also founded Poetry Behind the Walls, one of the only ongoing book series dedicated to writing and art by youth incarcerated, which provides space for youth to share their voice to the public. He also founded the Critical Animal Studies book series with Rodopi Books, now Brill Books, in 2008. In 2012, Nocella founded the Critical Animal Studies and Theory book series with Lexington Book Series.
In 2011, Nocella left Syracuse for Saint Paul, MN for a job at Hamline University in the School of Education. He soon became involved with anarchist and racial justice communities and launched Twin Cities STK, Wisdom Behind the Walls, and many other political Hip Hop activist projects, including the Institute for Hip Hop Activism. While in the Twin Cities, he co-founded and co-organized many projects, including co-organizing mass demonstrations for Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Terrance Franklin, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, and many other victims of police brutality. Other projects he co-founded include the National Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth, Eco-ability Collective, International Hip Hop Activism Conference, National Week Against the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, Twin Cities Fred Hampton Remembrance Day, and Twin Cities Black August. On Friday and Saturday evenings, he volunteered with Twin Cities Save the Kids holding workshops for youth in the Hennepin Juvenile Detention Facility. In 2015, he co-founded Minnesota Animal Liberation (MAL), which is still very active.
Today, after leaving the Twin Cities a month after being convicted of a trespassing charge at a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mall of America, he is living in Durango, Colorado where he is doing environmental and Hip Hop organizing, developing Durango STK, Durango Hip Hop, Durango Prisoner Letter Writing, and striving with others to develop an infoshop. In 2015, he also founded the Radical Animal Studies and Total Liberation book series with Peter Lang Publishing.
Beyond publishing and managing numerous organizations, book series, and journals, Nocella writes, speaks, and provides interviews and workshops regularly on total liberation, the school to prison pipeline, Hip Hop activism, disability pedagogy, repression, eco-ability, critical animal studies, and social justice education and activism.
My Personal Teaching and Research Philosophy
Education has been important to me because it was the avenue out of personal destruction, violence, and chaos. Prior to the first grade, I was diagnosed as being severely “mentally disabled,” and my years from first to fourth grade were spent in a “special class.” It was a nightmare for me, as I could not speak well or read at all, I shook all of the time, and I had difficulty focusing my energy in the classroom and in my life. At times I would be held down or just kicked out of class all together. From fifth to sixth grade, I spent still more time segregated, but this time at a school entirely for “special children,” at Temple University Laboratory, which closed down because of violence and property destruction by students.
One of the only wonderful relationships, beyond my family and few dear friends, was with my cat, Sparkle, who was my best friend and someone that I was able to communicate with emotionally in a humane manner. My only other escape was camping, hiking, and climbing in the woods with my Boy Scout Troop, which helped me a great deal on communicating with others.
In seventh grade I attended yet another “special school” run by Quakers, the Delaware Valley Friends School, and it was there that my life truly began to turn around. Even though I became a Quaker after high school, this experience influenced me greatly. My family and I moved from Philadelphia, PA to Houston, TX, where I was again enrolled for high school at one more “special school,” Briarwood School. The counselors involved in my case diagnosed my abilities to learn as significantly disabled and my parents were informed that I might not be able to graduate even at a “special school.” However, in eleventh grade I finally began to learn to read and write from a profound teacher who had also served as a former prison educator. Sadly, because of the death of his son and his wife that had cancer, he took his own life. Despite all of the problems and challenges that I faced along the path of my educational journey, I refused to give up. I was committed to learn, grow, and make something positive of myself no matter how hard my circumstances. It is for this reason, and my eleventh grade teacher who introduced me to Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s work, that I am invested in prison education and the environment from an intellectual and practical level.
These powerful relationships with teachers, nature with the Boy Scouts, and nonhuman animals such as with Sparkle, laid the foundation that ultimately motivated me to become politically and socially conscious at the age of 17. First with animal protection and environmentalism (working for the Sierra Club for the Clean Water Act and volunteering at a wildlife shelter every week), and soon after with numerous other issues such as prison abolition, anti-racism, immigration, and feminism.
While many thought I would have to be assisted and live with my family for the rest of my life, I graduated high school. I am among the very few, throughout the history of the school, who have gone on to receive not only a Bachelors but also a Masters degree, and the only student from Briarwood School to have received a doctorate degree. Through my ongoing commitment to education, I have turned my disability into a strong ability.
FOUNDATION: My interdisciplinary scholarship and pedagogy in and outside the classroom can be narrowed down to my respect of theory and practice, where my theory informs my practice in the community and where my practice in return informs my theory. My scholarship and pedagogy is based in two fields of study: education and peace and conflict studies.
EDUCATION: My scholarship, teaching, and practice begins in peace education (i.e., peacemaking) specifically located in the realm of critical pedagogy, which is carried out in community engagement, experimental learning, and inviting community leaders and members of the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to speak to my classes. In education my primary interest is access and inclusion. My critique is that education, be it in elementary, high school, higher education, or prison, is not accessible to all for a diversity of reasons such as race, class, gender, religion, political beliefs, and nationality. I strongly believe that education is, as Malcolm X once said, “The passport to the future.” But forms of education which work against the inclusion of certain Others and so, block their access to its transformative opportunities, is at present a major problem that limits the liberatory potentials of education as a force for social good. My own autobiography emerges out of this history of social and educational segregation and I continue to challenge (and be challenged by) cultural apartheid in many aspects of my daily life and institutional existence. I want and hope to be in a department that – promotes the value of respecting all (i.e., staff, students, community members, and faculty), advances the full potential of education for everyone, teaches critical thinking, supports collaboration, facilitates individual autonomy, and contributes progressively to historical projects of cultural emancipation and robust direct democracy.
TRANSFORMATION: I strive for conflict transformation to promote a unity, respect, and understanding of others by developing and protecting spaces and places of dialogue for healing and peace. Conflict transformation unlike conflict resolution, which looks simply at the ends, examines the means of establishing peace. Conflict transformation a form of conflict management goes beyond managing and suggests that the community must come together in order to transcend the negativity of conflict as a divisive and destructive event and strive to search out the opportunity and constructiveness. Transformation does not destroy or bring down an “enemy” or opponent, but rather uplifts and unites all. Transformation is the need for all to engage with the new and to leave the old. It is therefore the need to leave behind the experiences and identities of dominator and dominated in the case of politics, oppressor and oppressed in the case of society, and offender and the victim in the case of justice. My personal philosophy is to find the good within everyone, in hopes of eliminating the concept of the “enemy.”
INTERDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATIVE STUDIES: As an interdisciplinary scholar, I work to encourage experiential and theoretical learning and strive for my students to be well rounded critical scholars who understand the value of mulch-disciplinary research. I encourage students to work outside their discipline in order to better understand themselves and other’s perspectives. I very much enjoy working with others and encourage collaboration, which I have practiced such on books, committees, organizations, forums, and boards. Collaboration is the essence of understanding the ultimate value of the complexity of theoretical and practical contributions higher education, i.e., social and intellectual interaction.
As a result, my “interest,” as all interdisciplinary scholars, is not merely intellectual and academic, but public, communal, and personal. My interdisciplinary studies interest is twofold: first, it is to critique, challenge, and attack borders, barriers, boundaries, and other restrictive structures and systems that limit relationships. Second, my interest is to unite, bridge build, forge alliances, establish solidarity, mediate, and most importantly, be a peacemaker.