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5 Questions With Faculty: Loretta Pyles

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 20, 2017) — Loretta Pyles, a professor at the School of Social Welfare (SSW), came to UAlbany about nine years ago from Tulane University in New Orleans. She was recruited to serve as the director of SSW’s Community and Public Service Program, a position she held for four years.

Her teaching and research focus is on holistic and integrative social work and community and policy responses to poverty, violence and disasters. A certified yoga teacher, she incorporates mindfulness both in the classroom and in her work in the community.

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Professor Loretta Pyles focuses on holistic and integrative social work and policy.

What are you working on now?

I’m finishing up two book projects that I’m equally excited about. I’m writing a book on healing justice, which takes a holistic approach to self-care, focusing on the ways that change agents can heal oppression in both the community and their own minds and bodies. The other book is concerned with disaster capitalism and the discourses of media, policy makers and non-governmental organizations in relation to the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

What made you decide to pursue your field?

I was working as an anti-violence and anti-poverty advocate. One Sunday morning at the Kansas Zen Center, where I regularly practiced meditation, a friend named Ed Canda, who also happened to be a social work professor, asked me if I’d ever thought about getting a Ph.D. in social work. That was 17 years ago, and the rest is history.

If you weren’t teaching at a university, what would you be doing?

Writing poems about life on Earth.

What’s your favorite class to teach and why?

“Mindfulness, Yoga and Social Work.” It’s a life changer.

What’s your favorite food, to eat or cook?

Kitchari. It’s an Indian porridge that I make at least once a week. It’s split mung dahl, rice, spices and vegetables, though I like to experiment with the grains and sometimes use various combinations of rice, quinoa and barley. It’s a very healing and comforting food and makes me feel like everything is right with the world. I particularly enjoy making it for others whenever I can.

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