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The College of Education and Integrative Studies is a learning community focused on meeting the present and future needs of students in our communities. We educate students to become highly qualified and significant leaders in our society. We are committed to the principles of diversity, ethics and social justice, and life-long learning. Central to our mission are innovative and integrative thinking, reflective practice, collaborative action, and learning by doing.

New IGE Faculty Member Finds Historical Threads in Everyday Objects

To most people, a wig isn’t anything special. But to new faculty member Jason Petrulis, it’s a window to the past.

“I love to think about things that are forgotten or hidden in plain sight,” he says. “These sorts of everyday objects, and the people who use them, are fantastic lenses on capitalism, politics, culture and migration.”

Wig Guide

A striking and disturbing image from a 1960s guide to wig-buying. Photo courtesy of Jason Petrulis.

His research focuses on the interaction between the U.S. and Asia. Currently, he’s using wigs from the 1960s and ’70s as a historical “site,” an area of focus where many things come together in revealing ways.

One of the areas he is studying through the wigs is political economy.

“Wigs were the No. 2 export in South Korea at a time when the country’s economy was focused on exports,” he says. “It was so important that in the 1970s, many Koreans came to the U.S. to run wig and beauty supply shops, and many Korean-Americans still do.” Petrulis is looking forward to connecting with local Asian-American communities as part of his teaching and research.

Although he is a historian, his research is interdisciplinary and he is particularly excited about joining the Interdisciplinary General Education (IGE) department.

“I have been very impressed by IGE – the discussion-based learning, the progressive curriculum, the emphasis on community and more,” he says. “It is such a vibrant program.”

Roadside Wig Stand

A 1970s Korean-American roadside wig stand. Photo courtesy of Jason Petrulis.

Coming to Cal Poly Pomona has another draw for him: returning home to California. Petrulis, a native of Los Angeles, attended high school in North Hollywood and went to Harvard University for his bachelor’s in social studies. He went on to earn three graduate degrees from Columbia University: a master’s in history, a master’s of philosophy and a doctorate in history.

Petrulis taught at Colgate University for the last two years and is eager to begin teaching and interacting with Cal Poly Pomona students.

“The Cal State system is a jewel in the crown of this country’s higher education system,” he says. “It’s a privilege to teach at Cal Poly Pomona.”