Two recent faculty hires in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters are generating excitement, even outside the University. David Gibson, associate professor of sociology, and Ann Mische, associate professor of sociology and peace studies, joined the faculty in the fall of 2013. Professor Rory McVeigh, chair of the Department of Sociology, says, “I can’t tell you how many people—outside of Notre Dame—have said something along the lines of, ‘Wow, I didn’t realize David Gibson was on your faculty,’ or ‘Wow! When did Ann Mische come to Notre Dame?’
What would make a patient withhold information from his or her doctor? How do class, race, and ethnicity affect the quality of health care a patient receives? What social factors help determine the illnesses we contract and the best treatment plan for them? A growing number of Notre Dame students who pursue a career in medicine are finding the answers to these questions through a combination of sociology and Arts and Letters Pre-Health coursework.
Sociologist Sarah Mustillo ’96 combines real-world experience and statistical expertise to explore the social origins of child mental health issues. This fall she returned to Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters to continue her innovative research as a professor in the Department of Sociology.
Meredith Whitnah took the first step along her journey to becoming a University of Notre Dame doctoral candidate in sociology when she was just 10 years old. “I borrowed a copy of Cry, the Beloved Country my sister was reading for a class,” Whitnah recalls.
The University of Notre Dame’s Center for Research on Educational Opportunity (CREO) has been designated an “international research network” by the World Education Research Association (WERA). This recognition of CREO’s leadership in the sociology of education will open new doors for international scholarly collaborations in research on educational inequality.
Robert S. and Elizabeth Nanovic of North Yarmouth, Maine, have made a leadership gift to the University of Notre Dame for the construction of a new social sciences building in the College of Arts and Letters. Nanovic Hall will be built on Notre Dame Avenue, south of the Hesburgh Center for International Studies, and will house the Departments of Economics, Political Science, and Sociology. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2015 and be completed by August 2017, prior to the start of the academic year.
“Walking into these professional environments as an intern, you see that being in the College of Arts and Letters, you’ve been given the foundation to succeed,” says Anna VanEgmond, a senior sociology and computer applications major at Notre Dame. During the summer of 2013, VanEgmond interned as an advisory technology consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
As a college student, Erin Metz McDonnell wanted “to experience a world view as completely different from my own as possible, a way of life that would take me out of my Midwestern comfort zone.” She chose Ghana and fell in love with the country. Now a Kellogg Assistant Professor of Sociology at Notre Dame, McDonnell continues to explore the region in her research and teaching.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Christian Smith, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame, was recently honored for two of his latest books: What Is a Person?: Rethinking Humanity, Social Life, and the Moral Good From the Person Up and Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults.
From the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to the International Concrete Repair Institute, there are more than 4,000 active business associations in the United States. And contrary to popular misconceptions, says Notre Dame sociologist Lyn Spillman, they do more than just lobby politicians and promote products.
Almost 50 years ago Canadian theorist Marshall McLuhan posited that “the medium is the message,” advancing the idea that each method of communication influences public discourse not only by what tales it chooses to tell but also by how it presents those stories. This past fall, Kellogg Assistant Professor of Sociology Terence McDonnell helped University of Notre Dame College of Arts and Letters students explore how that concept plays out in today’s more complex media landscape.
Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick investigates contemporary slavery and human trafficking in India. Daniel Escher moved to Appalachian coal country to research the social effects of mining on surrounding communities. Sara Skiles designed and conducted a survey to determine how aesthetic taste helps affect the formation of social networks. Christopher Morrissey interviewed key religious and secular leaders to analyze the role of religion in the debate leading up to the Iraq War.
These four National Science Foundation honorees are just the latest examples of the innovative research proposals sociology graduate students are developing at the University of Notre Dame, says Associate Professor William Carbonaro, director of graduate studies for the Department of Sociology.
The University of Notre Dame’s Center for Research on Educational Opportunity (CREO), part of the University’s Institute for Educational Initiatives, has welcomed three new sociologists in the last year. The new hires are the highlight of what has been a particularly successful year for the center—and its research into schools and the learning process, says Mark Berends, CREO director and professor of sociology.