“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.
Assistant Professor Elizabeth Aura McClintock, a recent hire in Notre Dame’s Department of Sociology, maintains a professional interest in a field that most of us at one time or other have tried an amateur hand at: mapping out the rules of attraction in dating and marriage. “My research focuses on gender and inequality in the context of romantic and sexual relationships, particularly in partner selection and relationship formation and in dynamics of negotiation and compromise within established relationships,” she says. “I am interested in how intimate relationships reflect, perpetuate, and potentially alter gender, class, age, and racial inequality.”
As a sociology major at the University of Notre Dame, Joshua Cook ’10 learned about everything from criminal behavior to popular culture to family dynamics. And the deeper he got into his studies, he says, the more he realized that “understanding human behavior could serve as a great foundation for a career in a variety of fields, including the business world.”
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.
Ideas and ambitions abound. What many undergraduates lack is the know-how to tackle—on their own and for the first time—an extended research project that culminates in a senior thesis.
"When anyone does independent research, much of it is a solitary experience
A growing number of Ph.D. students in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Sociology are attracting attention for their research and publishing papers in leading peer-reviewed journals.
"Students have taken up our challenge to be more ambitious," says William Carbonaro, associate professor and director of graduate studies for the department.
At a time when the battered economy caused many sociology programs to freeze hiring for a second consecutive year, the University of Notre Dame doubled down.
“I am pleased to say that we hired four of the very best young scholars in the nation and each one will be joining us in the fall of 2011,” says Professor Rory McVeigh, chair of the Department of Sociology. “These scholars, as a group, not only build on our preexisting strengths but also help us to establish strength in some new areas of research.”…
Selfishness. Selflessness. Religion. Social activism.
The interrelationship of these ideas lies at the heart of two new courses for undergraduates in the Department of Sociology.
To help students explore the connections, Assistant Professor Kraig Beyerlein draws on his extensive research in social movements, civic engagement, volunteerism, and religion-based mobilization.
No one would dispute that religious convictions can lead to conflict—even violence and war. Yet how is it that so often adversaries use their faith to justify opposing stances in the same dispute? That's the question that intrigues Christopher Morrissey, a doctoral candidate in Notre Dame's Department of Sociology.
"Religious support and opposition to the Iraq War cut across American faith traditions, dividing the pews and denominations internally," says Morrissey, whose research focuses on the public debate before the war started.
As interest in cultural sociology has risen in recent decades, so too has Notre Dame's investment in its faculty.
"We've been growing over the past 20 years, but in the last five years it has all come together," says cultural sociologist Lyn Spillman, an associate professor who has studied American political and economic culture.