Introduction to Sociology

I have taught this introductory survey course to large groups ranging from 75 to 120 students. In the classroom, I use structured class discussions to promote student engagement, assign in-class writing on weekly readings, utilize small groups to involve even the most reserved students in class activities, and bring research and media familiar to students' lives as a way of illustrating key sociological concepts. I often incorporate my own research on collegiate cultures to demonstrate both how to do research and ways that sociology intersects with their own worlds. .

Course Description

In this introductory course, we will explore what it means to do sociology. One of the most exciting things about sociology is that you can study anything from a sociological perspective. Therefore, this class will cover a variety of diverse issues including but not limited to race, class, gender, deviance, religion, and politics. Throughout the semester we will look at how these topics relate to current social issues. Most importantly, students will learn to apply a sociological lens to the topics that most interest them.

Sociology of Education

This upper-level course is designed for between 50-75 students. The class provides the students with empirical evidence and theoretical frameworks necessary to understand the K-12 and postsecondary educational systems in the United States. The class is discussion based, and focused on honing students’ critical thinking skills. Students must complete two mini-paper assignments designed to build their writing skills.

Course Description

In this class we explore how external forces (like politics, financial support, and demographics of the population) shape how schools work, how internal institutional arrangements sort and channel students in different directions, what factors shape student achievement and behavior, and how schooling influences where individuals end up in society. We start with a case study of how gender, race, and class shape students’ experiences in urban schools. We then move to examination of key theories in the sociology of education, and analyze their utility for understanding today’s educational issues. The class also includes a second case study that helps us to look across and within schools as institutions. Finally, we end with a closer look at how social class, race, gender, and sexuality both organize and are organized by educational environments.

Sociology of the Family

This upper-level course is designed for a small group of students, up to 35. In the class, I seek to build studentsí knowledge of sociological perspectives on the family while strengthening their written and oral communication skills. The class is discussion based, and driven by student participation. I encourage critical thinking about how data on the family are collected, analyzed, and presented as "fact." Students also employ critical thinking skills in a final term paper project that is developed over the course of the semester, on a topic of their choice.

Course Description

We are all experts of sorts on the family: We have lived in families, observed family dynamics, and compared our own family experiences with those of others. Families have been at the center of our personal and emotional lives. This course will provide an opportunity to look at something familiar (the family) in a new way. We will focus on the family as a social institution — set of structured social arrangements for meeting certain human needs — and we will examine the larger social forces that shape those structures. We will use a comparative approach to families, emphasizing their diversity both across time and space and within present-day U.S. society — paying particular attention to how social inequality shapes family experiences. By the end of the semester, you should be able to place your own personal experience of families in a larger social, cultural, and historical context.