Teaching is one of the most rewarding things that I do, and my greatest joy in life is watching students learn and grow. The commitment to education and dedication to social change that I see among my students is what gives me the most hope for the future of this nation and our world.
I regularly teach classes on race and ethnic relations, the sociology of disaster, and qualitative research methods. These classes range dramatically in size, enrolling anywhere from 12 to 120 students. But in every case, I try to personalize the learning experience and to encourage students to think critically and creatively as they engage with the course material. You can read my teaching philosophy here and an article on my teaching here.
Below, I’ve included links to my syllabi and a brief description of each of my courses.
SOC 205: Contemporary Race-Ethnic Relations
This course examines the diverse experiences of various racial and ethnic groups from a historical and comparative perspective. Throughout the semester, we explore the individual and institutional consequences of racial and ethnic inequality, with a specific emphasis on the labor market, educational system, government, criminal justice system, media, housing and environment, health care, and family. Students complete daily written responses to a “Question of the Day,” which is designed to encourage students to think critically about the weekly readings and lecture material. Students also research and prepare a presentation on an initiative aimed at reducing racial inequality. The goal of this project is to empower students and to encourage them to think about the possibility for social change regarding racism, prejudice, and stereotypes. The course culminates with students synthesizing the material they have learned about race and ethnicity by writing a socialization essay that requires they apply course material to their own personal experiences.
SOC 463: Sociology of Disaster
My first task in this course is to help students understand that natural disasters are fundamentally social events that reflect the ways we live and structure our communities. This class focuses on the unequal human consequences of disasters. In particular, we study conflict models and theories of social vulnerability that emphasize social, economic, geographical, political, and cultural factors that put people differentially at risk before, during, and after disasters. I use several recent large-scale catastrophes, such as the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the Haiti earthquake to highlight how vulnerable social groups, such as racial and ethnic minorities, low-income populations, women, and the elderly, are affected by and cope with hazardous conditions and events. At the beginning of the course, students select a specific disaster event (e.g., the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Hurricane Andrew, the 1993 Midwest floods, 9/11), as well as a specific population or social issue (e.g., women, children, persons with disabilities, risk communication), that they want to study. Students then work on this project throughout the semester. The final product is a lengthy research paper that requires that students conduct an extensive literature review and complete a content analysis of newspaper coverage of the event of interest. I am pleased to note that every year I have taught this course, one of my students has gone on to win a national hazards and disaster student paper competition with their final class paper.
SOC 610: Methods of Qualitative Analysis
The main objective of this course is to introduce graduate students to the practicalities, realities, joys, and limitations of qualitative research methods. The course is taught as a workshop and seminar: as such, students are expected to participate in classroom discussion, complete weekly writing assignments, conduct a number of out of class research activities, and design a qualitative research proposal. The class explores the theoretical and epistemological traditions of qualitative research; ethical issues associated with research involving human subjects; the role of the researcher in qualitative inquiry; typical qualitative data collection methods with a specific focus on non-participant and participant observation, in-depth interviews, focus groups, document analysis, and other unobtrusive measures; techniques for describing, analyzing, and interpreting qualitative data; and ways to ensure accurate, rich, and useful qualitative studies. By the end of the course, students should be familiar with the modes of thinking, specific practices, and the language and logic associated with the qualitative paradigm.
Sociology at Colorado State University