Social Science for Social Service
I believe that a rigorous sociological education provides students with the fundamentals needed for academic and career success (e.g., reading comprehension, analytic techniques, and communication skills), while also encouraging them to engage critically and empathetically with the world around them. My goal is to prepare young scholars to question their assumptions, identify structures of power and inequality, and challenge injustice in any career path they choose. In my teaching, I emphasize student research, service, and study abroad within the context of a core disciplinary curriculum.
Integrating Scholarship and Teaching: I believe that students learn to be sociologists by conducting their own research. My focus is on teaching student to articulate their interests in a rigorous, scientific way, regardless of whether I am introducing undergraduate Research Methods students to the process of social inquiry; helping seniors with capstone projects and graduate students with Maters Theses; or advising students on developing successful proposals for NSF, Fulbright, and Ford fellowship competitions. I am currently working to further integrate scholarship and teaching by training students as research assistants and collaborating with them on research. By improving their analytic and communication skills through actual research experience, my students are better prepared for any post-graduation plans.
Service: More generally, I believe students learn best when they feel that course material is relevant to them. This is why I emphasize experiential learning through community engagement. My Organizations class, for example, is community-based service learning class. I define organizations broadly to include non-profits, advocacy groups, small businesses, major corporations, churches, schools, government agencies, etc., and encourage students to pick an organization that is useful for their personal career goals. In the case-studies they write, students apply core concepts from the readings, class discussions, and lectures to situate the organization within its industry and outline its relationship to different political, social, and economic institutions.
Study Abroad: Through travel classes — like the three-week Gender and Society in India class that I helped lead for Pacific University — my students fully immerse themselves in the core sociological task of learning to see the familiar in the strange and to see the strange in the familiar. In so doing, they also learn to see themselves as citizens of the world. I believe that such courses allow students who are unable to participate in a traditional study abroad semester to benefit from the study abroad experience. I know the value of these classes first-hand because I used just such a class to develop a successful Fulbright Student Research Grant proposal during my senior year of college.