Meghan Kallman, class of 2016, Ph.D.


In her interview, Meghan Kallman, Brown University class of 2016, PhD, speaks about her path into sociology and Rhode Island state politics — both of which stem from a deep interest in community and social organization.

Kallman begins by describing her childhood in a rural school system in New Hampshire. She also discusses her experience as an undergraduate at Smith College, where she says the all-women’s environment was a transformative experience that contributed to her “imagination building” and showed the possibilities of a space engineered to meet rather than marginalize the needs of women. After her education at Smith, Kallman worked various positions abroad — including at Amnesty International and a tri-national environmental nonprofit. She asserts that her time abroad was critical for broadening and deepening her perspective of the world and better understanding her own positionality. She credits a number of deep relationships formed while abroad to the fact that she was able to work in other countries, not just visit and observe the places in which she was living.

Back in the United States, Kallman completed her Master’s at the University of Chicago where she nurtured a growing interest in sociology, in part spurred on by her previous work in nonprofits. She saw that the world was “governed by mechanisms [she] didn’t understand,” and decided to pursue a PhD in Brown’s Sociology Department. Kallman reflects that her experience as a doctoral student was privileged by the University’s relative wealth, which allowed her to complete her research without needing to balance outside work in order to obtain funding. By chance, Kallman was connected with a teaching opportunity at an RI state prison. There, she started the Prison Op-Ed Project, which solicited and published op-eds from incarcerated students.

Disappointed by politicians in her district, Kallman decided to run for Pawtucket’s City Council, which launched her later campaign for State Senator. In the face of deep, compounding inequalities, Kallman is deeply compelled by the possibilities of local government as a mobilizing force — particularly in Rhode Island. She ends by reflecting on the fear she has witnessed in the wake of the Trump and COVID eras, but also her action-driven vision of hope for the future.


Recorded on January 20, 2022 on Zoom
Interviewed by Amanda Knox, Pembroke Center Assistant Archivist

Suggested Chicago style citation: Meghan Kallman, class of 2016, Ph.D. Interview. By Amanda Knox. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. January 20, 2022.


Meghan Elizabeth Kallman, PhD ‘16, is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at UMASS Boston and a Senator in the Rhode Island House of Representatives representing District 15. Before earning her PhD in Sociology at Brown, Kallman received her Bachelor’s Degree from Smith College and her Master’s from the University of Chicago. Her academic work deals with network theory and social movements. In her recent work as a senator, Kallman began her career in in Rhode Island politics as on the City Council cosponsored the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act and laws to expand access to birth control and preserve funding for RIPTA’s R-Line Free for All program. In 2021, she was granted the Pacesetter Award from the Women Legislators’ Lobby as one of seven women pioneering advancements for their constituents in state legislatures across the country.