Dr. Kathy Powers advises UNM faculty on alternative ways to affect policy change

Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Kathy Powers spoke to University of New Mexico faculty for the second workshop in Advance at UNM’s Brown Bag series: Women Influencing Policy about many topics, but primarily surrounding her work on reparations.

During her presentation, Powers discussed ways in her career that she utilized indirect and alternative methods to influence policy. Her research focuses on the politics and law of trade and war early in her career and more recently reparations for human rights violations — globally and domestically. She has consulted the United Nations Association through her board member work and West Point alumni on military forces embedded in international economic institutions.


“If I could impart anything, it gave me a way to impact University by using my classroom as a collaborative unit and also as a space for truth and reconciliation,” Powers said.


Powers drew upon her experiences advising policymakers on global reparations policy and international treaties at the Wilson Center for International Scholars and teaching at Georgetown University to lead her discussion. She has also advised the Holocaust scholars and other institutions on new global reparations efforts on Holocaust restitution approaches. She is among a new group of scholars that encourage the use of the classroom as a mechanism to help Universities confront their histories.


As a residential fellow at the Wilson Center for International Scholars, she was able to learn from and share insights with policymakers who negotiate international treaties focused on reparations for human rights violations as well as NGOs and community organizations in Washinton D.C. and Global Ties

“The power that we have as academics over our classroom — if you don’t have an administrative appointment — it is the thing that you can control other than your research,” Powers said. “And what I realized is it can be the unit I use to collaborate with other units on campus.”

As Powers took questions during the presentation, the conversation turned to the current COVID-19 pandemic and the racial disparities concerning infection and care. The participants also discussed difficulties and possible avenues for conducting research during the age of social distancing. 

In February, Dr. Nancy Lopez spoke about her work in intersectionality and the 2020 U.S. Census during the first Brown Bag Series: Women Influencing Policy workshop.

Advance Co-PI and computer science Professor Melanie Moses said she had the idea for Advance at UNM to host a Women in Policy workshop after she stumbled on a link of Powers on “The Rock Newman Show” speaking on reparations.  

“She has this ability to bring clarity and a depth of understanding to issues that people really need to think about,” Moses said about Powers. 


Watch Powers’ presentation here.