Rachel Austin has been a lecturer/instructor at a variety of higher education institutions, including a state university, a private four-year college, technical colleges and local community colleges throughout Central and Western North Carolina and the upper Piedmont of South Carolina.
Her research concentrations include social movements, counter-culture, identity, racial justice, forensic psychology, criminality, and carceral studies (the study of prison systems). She is actively involved in various professional and academic associations such as the American Sociological Association and the Southern Sociological Society. Her work recently was published in the refereed academic journals Sociological Inquiry and the Journal for Animal Ethics. She is an expert reviewer for Oxford University Press in the areas of social movements and criminology.
She has developed 19 distinct courses in sociology, psychology and communication, representing a wide scope of sub-fields (including such courses as political sociology, social movements, stratification, human sexuality, deviance and criminology, social psychology, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, gerontology and race/racism) in addition to standard introductory survey courses in sociology and psychology. She undergoes continuous professional development to expand her academic and pedagogical repertoire.
Austin holds a Master of Arts in Sociology from UNC Charlotte and a Master of Arts in Psychology (forensic track) from the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks. She completed undergraduate studies at the University of South Carolina Upstate, where she earned bachelor's degrees in sociology and psychology and received the C. Wright Mills Award in Sociology.