“I took a University Seminar in sociology and I really liked it—it fit my personality,” says Sam Lee, a Notre Dame senior from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. “Sociology shapes your lens and perspective and how you see people in a larger context and the social forces that shape people. It’s applicable to a lot of things.”
Of the many lessons Kathleen Blatz ’76 took from Notre Dame, the one she says mattered most was not learned in a specific class or from a certain professor. Rather, it was the entirety of her educational experience—from studying abroad in Rome to diving into art history to exploring anthropology—that broadened her perspective on life and helped shape her own path.
Every democracy is a work in progress. The degree to which some succeed and others fall short is at the heart of what sociologist Robert Fishman explores in his research and teaching at Notre Dame.
In 1984, Notre Dame invited Maureen Hallinan to join the faculty as the University’s second female endowed chair at a time when academia was an “all-male bastion,” she says.
Now, after 28 years of service, she has retired, having proven herself as a meticulous researcher, prolific writer, and honored professor in the sociology of education—and having advanced the academic reputation of her entire department.
Empowered and groundbreaking women are a family tradition for sociologist Joan Aldous, Notre Dame’s first full female endowed professor. Appointed William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Sociology at Notre Dame in 1976, Aldous retired on December 31, 2012. In that time, she became a leading expert in the sociology of the family and made a significant impact on sociology at Notre Dame.
Justin Farrell, a doctoral candidate in Notre Dame’s Department of Sociology, is interested in how human values, morality, and religion impact our responses to environmental problems. His dissertation analyzes the cultural dimensions of environmental policy conflict in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The study is funded primarily by a three-year U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Graduate STAR Fellowship for Environmental Studies.
Farrell brought a similar focus to the 2010 BP oil spill in a recent study for which he won the American Sociological Association (ASA) 2012 Marvin E. Olsen Award for best graduate student paper on environment and technology.
Jennifer Jones, the newest faculty member in Notre Dame’s Department of Sociology, focuses her teaching and research on the ways in which immigration policies affect the experiences and identities of various minority groups in the United States. “I liked observing the dynamics around race in other countries and that got me interested in comparing race relations and how race works here,” she explains.