There is a burgeoning conversation about sexual assault and relationship abuse in this country. Central to this discussion is Jackson Katz ’82─educator, author, filmmaker and cultural theorist who is internationally renowned for his pioneering scholarship and activism on issues of gender and violence. Katz is the founder and director of the Long Beach, California-based MVP Strategies, which provides gender violence prevention education and training based on the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) model, a program he co-founded in 1993.

The mixed-gender, multiracial MVP program is one of the longest-running and most widely influential sexual assault and relationship abuse prevention programs in colleges, high schools, sports culture and the military in North America and beyond. MVP introduced the “bystander” approach to the gender violence prevention field. Katz is one of the key architects of this now broadly popular approach that encourages everyone in a given peer culture to interrupt and challenge abusive behaviors by their friends, classmates, teammates, co-workers, etc., as well as to support the targets and victims of this abuse.  

UMass was one of the first schools Katz and his colleagues worked with when developing MVP; MVP has conducted trainings in the Department of Athletics for over twenty years.  

In 1997, Katz created and directed the first worldwide gender violence prevention program in the history of the U.S. Marine Corps. He and his colleagues have also been centrally involved in the development and implementation of system-wide bystander intervention training in the Air Force, Navy and Army.

Katz’s primary focus is on men’s violence against women, but his work has also long explored broader connections between masculinity and violence. He has written about boys’ and men’s perpetration of school shootings, gang violence and gay-bashing, as well as the trauma and violent victimization boys and men experience at the hands of other men and themselves.    

“The primary reason we have so much violence, harassment and abuse in our society has to do with social norms and structural inequalities, it’s not about individual personal dysfunction,” says Katz. “These are systemic problems that are deeply rooted in gendered ideologies that then intersect with issues of race, ethnicity, socioeconomics and other factors. The nature of my work has been about helping to change social norms rooted in cultural belief systems and institutional practices so we can prevent abusive acts from happening in the first place.” 

Speaking of the ongoing problems of sexual and domestic violence, Katz says “I think there’s an increased willingness to deal with these issues on every level.” When asked why he replies,  “Because, if it’s no longer just about individual perpetrators, but actually a deeper problem with deeper roots, then everybody has a role to play.”  

Katz has delivered thousands of lectures across North America as well as Europe, Australia and many other countries.  His TED talk, Violence Against Women is a Men’s Issue, has been viewed more than 2.5 million times.  He is the author of The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help and the forthcoming Man Enough? Hillary Clinton and the Politics of Presidential Masculinity.  He is also the creator and lead writer of the award-winning educational documentaries Tough Guise and Tough Guise 2, and he is a featured presenter in the popular documentaries Miss Representation and The Mask You Live In.  His published works as well as his public talks and trainings have brought his insights into issues of gender, race, sexuality and violence to millions of college and high school students as well as professionals in education, human services, public health and law enforcement.

Katz earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from UMass Amherst and was the first man at UMass to earn a minor in women’s studies. He holds a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a Ph.D. in cultural studies and education from UCLA.  

Meet Jackson Katz and hear him speak about the UMass experience that led him to his work in gender violence prevention during the Alumni Weekend Keynote Luncheon on June 6, 2015. Learn more about Alumni Weekend and register today!