Signature Course – Poverty in America in Non-Fiction and Film
Dr. Michael “Miguel” Ferguson is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Ferguson joined the UT faculty in 1999 after completing his doctorate at the University of Washington School of Social Welfare.
Dr. Ferguson grew up in southern California in a bicultural household (his mother is Mexican-American and his father immigrated from Ireland). After knee injuries sidelined him from a college basketball career he transferred to the University of Arizona where he earned an undergraduate degree in Human Services and a Masters degree in Latin American Studies.
Dr. Ferguson’s teaching and research interests focus on social policy, poverty, welfare reform program evaluation, and social justice. Dr. Ferguson teaches at the undergraduate and graduate levels and is fond of incorporating innovative pedagogical methods in his courses. One such program, titled “Words Beyond Walls,” matches students with prisoners serving life terms in the Monroe Correctional Complex located in Monroe, Washington. The students and prisoners review each other’s writing and provide critical commentary on a range of policy issues discussed in the course. In addition to his teaching duties in the School of Social Work, Dr. Ferguson also teaches a special course for first year students titled “Poverty in America in Fiction and Film.” The course exposes students to classic works of film and fiction on the subject of poverty, and what can be done to end poverty (not welfare!) as we know it. Dr. Ferguson was the recipient of the Lora Lee Pederson Teaching Excellence award in 2004.
Dr. Ferguson has traveled extensively throughout Texas while evaluating over 40 innovative welfare-to-work programs. He has published his findings in numerous reports and journal articles and is currently writing a book that details the way in which “street-level” concerns, for better or worse, influence the design, implementation, and performance of welfare reform programs operated by a wide range of non-profit and faith-based organizations.
Dr. Ferguson has two children, Matthew and Grace. His interests include progressive activism, writing screenplays, playing the guitar, and embarrassing himself in the occasional pick-up basketball game