We are excited about the new format for Sociology News! It is the first time we are trying this format, so, naturally, we’ll have some kinks to work out. We hope you will be active participants in the growth of this blog by commenting to posts already up and contributing blogs of your own!
If you’re interested in submitting a piece for the second edition of the Fall semester, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy reading, viewing and writing!
We are pleased to introduce the 2009-2010 edition of Sociology
News. Beverly Pratt and I will be the interim editresses (an actual
word in the dictionary) until the election results are in. We plan to
alternate roles as lead editress each semester. We have changed
the format from a newsletter to a mini-magazine to provide greater
variety and depth. We hope you will find this edition visually
interesting, practical and relevant. We have received input from
faculty as well as students of different backgrounds at different
points in their careers. The best part of our new approach is that it
is interactive. All of the information in the magazine will be included
in the blog, http://www.umdsocy.blogspot.com, where you can leave your
feedback on each segment. We look forward to your questions,
comments and suggestions!
The theme for this edition is Imagine. I thought this reference to C.
Wright Mills,’ The Sociological Imagination, would be appropriate
given the new ideas that the new cohort brings and the transitional
nature of the department, in general. Perhaps what has attracted
most of us to this doctoral program is not the PhD title—and
certainly not the torture associated with the process. For many
of us, it was our intellectual curiosity. Mills helped me to define
and hone it through his explanation of what he called the
“Nowadays men often feel that their private lives are a series of traps…What they need, and what they feel they need, is a quality of mind that will help them to use information and to develop reason in order to achieve lucid summations of what is going on in the world and of what may be happening within themselves. It is this quality, I am going to contend, that journalists and scholars, artists and publics, scientists and editors are coming to expect of what may be called the sociological imagination” (The Sociological Imagination, 1959, p.3).
The idea that one could attain a quality of mind to better understand
the multiple and subtle ways her life influenced and was influenced
by local and global forces, one could and could not see, piqued my
More importantly, I was concerned with how this quality of mind
helped sociologists address social problems. Karl Marx famously
stated: “Philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various
ways–The point, however, is to change it.” The implicit challenge
in this statement calls us to use the skills and tools we have as
scholars to imagine a better society. Great scholars like W.E.B.
DuBois and Harriet Martineau’s visionary perspectives concerning
discrimination remind us that imagination is not simply the stuff of
dreams—it is foundational to social transformation.
As sociologists, we hold a mirror up to society and identify ways to
improve the portrait, in which, we are included (albeit not the central
focus). However, we can also hold up a mirror to ourselves and have
candid discussions concerning ways to make this department better
for the undergraduates, graduates and professors. We might begin
by posing questions such as: How might politics amongst faculty
members adversely affect the graduate students? How is the junior
faculty adjusting to the new department? What can students do to
reduce the time it takes to complete the program? How can students
help themselves to secure more funding? Is there a sense of mutual
respect between students and faculty members who do quantitative
or qualitative analysis? Why do certain classes tend to be male
I do not pose these questions simply to be provocative, rather
they are grounded in my own experiences here. Once in a writing
workshop group professor Kestnbaum and Michelle Corbin opened
my eyes to the ways in which I had repeated practices of domination
in my writing—claiming my argument was valid because popular
scholars agreed with me, elevating my claim by elevating them. It is
important that we help each other to discern ways in which we may
repeat the protectionist, discriminatory practices we critique.
I think the students, in particular, can show our appreciation for this
department and this institution in general by working with faculty to
identify ways to enhance the program. After all, it is an honor to be a
student here. As students, we can imagine the ideal environment and
decide how to realize it given our skills and resources, which is what
I see several students doing already. In light of our workloads, this
task may seem superfluous and time consuming. Yet, imagine, what
if these ideas began with a simple contribution to this magazine, led
to an informal discussion and then became included on the Graduate
Student Forum agenda.
We hope this magazine can be light-hearted and fun, but also a
vehicle for students and faculty to discuss how they would like
to see the department grow. If we can stay connected to why
we really came to this field, we can continue to strengthen the
I traveled Europe with some friends for three weeks in August, visiting Rome, Paris, Versailles, Prague, Munich, Vienna, and Koln. We went to several museums, saw the Eiffel Tower, visited the Vatican, Neuschwanstein Castle, and several beautiful gardens in Versailles. The food (and coffee) was delicious, and the music, culture, and art were beautiful. I’m looking forward to visiting again in the near future!
I spent the summer living and working on my dissertation in Lima, Peru. I also set off on trips to see the Nazca lines, the waterfalls of Matucana, and spent a week in Iquitos, an Amazonian jungle town only accessible by air or boat. I leave in a few weeks for Ecuador to continue working on my dissertation and exploring the wonders of South American life!
This summer, I went back to Japan for a month and also visited Korea for a week. Every year, when I visit home, my family would take a trip. This year, we went to Kanazawa (located northwest of Tokyo along the Sea of Japan). It was only a two-nights trip, but it is always nice to spend time with my family…
Then, at the end of May, I visited my friend from UMD in Seoul. I was surprised to find that the
atmosphere in Korea and Japan was very much alike (e.g. buildings and how people dressed). I want to thank my friend for being a great
tour guide as well as a translator! I bought Korean language books in Seoul and have been trying to learn Korean since I came back to College Park…
Rome is like walking into a work of art. Event the clouds look as if
God edited them in photo-shop. My friend Candice and I had the
opportunity to spend five days there eating gelato and taking in
popular sites like Trevi Fountain, the Vatican and the Spanish Steps.
However, it’s always difficult hearing sad news away from home. I
heard about Michael Jackson’s passing while in Europe. At the time,
I was among mainly new friends from different parts of the world.
We all shared our favorite songs and dance moves with varying
degrees of nostalgia, disbelief and sorrow. Many musicians, dj’s
and nightclubs across the world paid special tribute to the timeless
“King of Pop.”
My friend Candice and I met some kindred spirits from Chile while
looking for a place to dance in Via Testaccio, a center in Rome with
a lot of nightlife.
We all talked about many things, including, of course, Michael.
Later that night we had the opportunity to see an appreciation
performance while in Rome. We all danced and sang: “You
can be my baby, it don’t matter if your black or white…
dooooodoodoodoodooooodooooo…” Here is a piece of the
My favorite songs by Michael Jackson are “Man in the Mirror”
and “Bad.” My favorite music videos are “Remember the Time”
and “Smooth Criminal.” Michael always danced like his life
depended on it! He sang about what was in his heart. The world
has lost a king, but Michael left a precious legacy. I love looking
around the globe and seeing his style, energy and spirit.
In line with the theme, Imagine, we asked professors: What drew
you to sociology? What keeps you interested in the field? Below is the
wisdom they shared…
The continual opportunity to ask interesting questions about society
and then trying to answer them…. Making connections between two
seemingly unrelated ideas to generate new ways of looking at things…
Helping to make sense of the world around us as its pace of change is
ever accelerating. It’s all about people, groups of people… and to
me, that’s never boring!
I was planning to be a social worker, and took the required sociology
courses in my first two undergraduate years (at U of FL) before
getting married and dropping out for a while. When I returned to
school (GWU, mostly at night, as had a young child by then) I decided
to stick with sociology as the best way to quickly finish courses for
my B.A. degree. I remained only mildly interested in sociology when,
after another break–and a divorce–I went to graduate school (UNC)
for my M.A., but became extremely interested when, after another
break, went back for my Ph.D. (UC Berkeley) and studied demography.
It is the many fascinating issues of social demography, especially
when viewed from a gender perspective, that have maintained my
began college as a geology major, never having heard of sociology,
and being enthralled with glacial paleontology. During my first two
college years, I learned that geological processes are very slow
(glacial, one might say), and that glaciers are very cold. At the same
time I took my first social science courses, and became consumed by
them. After college I did my graduate work at the University of
Chicago, where some of the great minds of the social sciences were
teaching. It was a time of social turbulence–the civil rights
movement, the Vietnam War, etc., and I think a majority of my entering
cohort of graduate students saw in sociology a means to address some
of the problems of the world. Perhaps as important as the fame of
the people I studied with was the fact that they were engaged with the
world. Phil Hauser, the chair of the department, had been the director
of the Census Bureau, Don Bogue, for whom I was a research assistant,
was battling population growth, Morris Janowitz, who was my mentor,
was off to Washington or on TV at least once a month to talk about
military policy. I was attracted by the possibility of having an
impact beyond the walls of the academy. After Chicago, I joined the
faculty at the University of Michigan, where the dept. chair, Al
Reiss, was constantly consulting and testifying in the area of
criminal justice. I took a leave from Michigan in the first years of
the volunteer military force, to establish a sociological research
program for the Army, and found it fulfilling to have senior military
commanders, federal executives, and members of the Congress interested
in my research. I came to Maryland after three years of federal
service, intending to return to research on social stratification and
political sociology, but it never happened. The constituencies that
had been developed outside the university–the military services, the
Congress, and the media, pressed me top continue research on the
military. I think if I ever reach the point at which the only people
who read what I write are other sociologists, I’ll turn to my
childhood ambition and become a cowboy.
My undergraduate degree was in business. As I was working in a real
job and starting to move through my MBA, I was exposed to Weber’s The
Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and then Durkheim’s
Elementary Forms of Religious Life. I thought the work was
fascinating, particularly in how it connected to my own experiences. I
was raised Catholic, for example, and Durkheim’s discussion of the
functions of ritual explained well my experiences with religion. These
works led me to pursue an advanced degree in sociology.
Carrying out research, particularly with students, teaching in its
various forms, and learning what other researchers are doing all keep
me interested in the discipline. The research I do is in group
processes, and there is a one-day mini-conference every year for group
processes researchers, usually the day before the ASA meetings. I find
this mini-conference especially invigorating. I get to learn what
other people in my area are doing, talk with people who approach
research in similar ways to me, and get a sense of future directions
in the area.
I was attracted to sociology because of its wide horizons and many options. It is this that has kept me interested in sociology and keeps me interested to this day. Over the years I have changed my focus many times, including work and occupations, theory (and among many different kinds of theory), metatheory, consumption, social geography, globalization, and most recently prosumption. Following
one interest for a time has inevitably led me to others. I hope and expect that this process will continue.
There’s always something new; sociology is always new!
Most of us pursue a PhD in Sociology for some reason beyond,
or perhaps within, our selves: a theoretical piece – like Baudrillard’s
America – demonstrated the creativity of theory… sociologists on
the syllabi of our undergraduate Critical Race and Women’s Studies
courses discussed social injustices in ways in which we had yet to
consider… a Research Methods class demonstrated the applicability
of Sociology – both theory and methods – as a tool to eliminate
social injustices. And for those of us who choose Sociology because
if these– or myriad other reasons – we struggle with how to dutifully
apply our budding Sociological Imaginations – both abstractly and
Within the tension of this struggle I choose to pursue the
Sociological Adventure. I also choose to volunteer time –
what little I can afford as a graduate student – at a Washington,
DC nonprofit actively utilizing their own Sociological Imagination.
I volunteer at Sojourners – a nearly 40 year-old faith-based social
justice nonprofit in the heart of the District’s ever changing – for
better and worse – Columbia Heights neighborhood. Though the
organization doesn’t provide direct-care services to people in the
neighborhood, it instead mobilizes activists and builds coalitions
among both secular and non-secular organizations fighting against
such oppressions as poverty, racism and those fighting for such
reforms as immigration and health care parody. In doing so,
Sojourners partners with organizations like World Vision, Oxfam,
So, while I don’t provide direct-care to people, I do get to interact
with folks who consider themselves activists, many since the Civil
Rights Movement. I’ve learned of their narratives as social
activists, volunteered side-by-side with them at huge mobilizations
and Capital Hill rallies, and have been able to witness and
experience sweat and tears as natural components to organizing
massive campaigns against the constantly fluctuating backdrop
of Washington, DC. While the nonprofit isn’t perfect (what
organizations are?), spending time within an organization founded
upon Sociological grassroots ideologies has both sharpened and
expanded my Sociological Imagination.
The potential and application of our Sociological Imaginations aren’t
limited to the classroom, our comprehensive exams, or even our
dissertations. Our Sociological Imagination extends beyond our
selves and our academically gated community to a political,
economic, and social world in much need of our Imaginations!
So, I definitely encourage you, whether you’re just beginning
your Sociological Adventure or are further along and in the midst
of one of its valleys to give what time you can to organizations,
relationships, and people that need you. I can testify that it’s
a reciprocal relationship, for the better.
The annual American Sociological Association conference took
place this Summer. The ASA president was Professor Patricia
Beverly Pratt shares her top ten favorite moments
from the event. Please let us know your opinions of ASA!
ASA 2009 Top Ten List
10. Enjoying UMD’s Sociology community 3,000 miles away
from our offices.
9. Plenary sessions loaded with sociological abstractions
8. Networking with Sociologists whose Sociological Imaginations
are similarly inspired.
7. Food, food, and more food (Mexican, Italian, Japanese)… yum(!).
6. Enjoying the colorful tapestry and diversity of San Francisco.
5. Attending sessions with your Sociological super-heroes.
And sometimes even getting to be on the same panel as them.
4. Roaming around searching for Foucault-haunts.
3. Being able to escape the mid-Atlantic humidity for some
northern California weather.
2. Dr. Collins’ “The New Politics of Community”
address… woo hoo!!!
1. Getting to cheer for Dr. Collins as a community!!!
As some of you may know there is now an alternative option for
comprehensive exam. Below is a step-by-step guide. For those of
you who still have concerns, a meeting to discuss this option will be
take place October 7 at 1:30 PM in Room 1101.
The department has revised the process for completing specialty
exams beginning this fall. Currently, students must sit for exams in
two of the department’s eight identified specialty areas. The new
system retains the requirement that students show mastery of two
fields within sociology. Further, students must sit for at least one
exam in one of our eight specialty areas as the process is currently
set up and may choose to sit for both exams in the current system.
However, students may now choose an alternative for one of the
two specialty exams. The alternative is described below.
A student seeking to complete an alternative for one of the specialty
exams takes the following steps:
1. The student forms a committee of three members, including one who
will act in the role of chair of the exam committee. The committee
members must all be regular faculty members in the Department
of Sociology. In special cases, students can petition the graduate
committee to have one committee member from outside of the
department. For these petitions to be successful, the person must
be a member of the Maryland graduate faculty, and the student must
make a strong case that the person adds expertise in an area of the
sociology literature that cannot be found inside the department.
The student and committee together define the substantive coverage
and label for the exam. The defining feature of this new system is
that it will allow students and faculty together to define areas of
concentration. At the same time, there is an expectation that the
content of the exam reflect a coherent body of theory and research
in sociology of sufficient breadth. The topic area of the alternative
exam cannot be subsumed entirely within one of our existing areas.
The goal of this alternative is to allow students to draw on the
strengths of our faculty. Thus, the expectation is that committees
will be formed to draw on the expertise of our faculty, and students
should not expect faculty to sit on committees in topic areas outside
of their areas of expertise.
2. The student and committee together determine how the student
will certify that she or he is prepared to sit for the exam. This might
involve the successful completion of three courses as required by
the current model, or it might involve some combination of courses
and other requirements.
3. The student and committee together determine how the component
of the exam evaluated by the committee will look. The exam can
potentially take multiple forms, from a take-home exam to a research
proposal that incorporates extensive literatures. These are only
examples, and the content of the exam is to be determined between
the student and committee.
4. The student and committee draft a contract that specifies the topic
area of the exam, the requirements for the student to sit for the
exam, how the evaluated component of the exam will look, and
when the exam will be completed. The completed contract will
be turned into the graduate office at the same time that students
declare for the traditional comps. The elements of the contract
will be subject to the approval of the graduate office.
I had the opportunity to speak with Professor Roberto Patricio Korzenieweicz, better known to us as Patricio. One thing I admire about Patricio is how he talks about student works as potential contributions, as opposed to publications. Of course, there is nothing wrong with choosing publish over peril, but his language reminds us that we have something to not only gain from, but contribute to, our intellectual communities at such an early stage in our careers.
Patricio came to the United States from Argentina at 17 years old. He completed his bachelors’ at the University of Santa Cruz where he majored in Sociology and Latin American Studies. He went on to complete his PhD at SUNY Binghamton—a university, which is known for its research strengths in political economy and World Systems Analysis.
Here, Patricio discusses World Systems Analysis, his new book Unveiling Inequality: A World-Historical Perspective and offers advice to graduate students.
How did you become interested in World Systems Analysis?
I guess I became interested during my undergraduate education. There were several faculty members at [University of California] Santa Cruz, who had at least general interest in the approach…
Binghamton was actually the only graduate program to which I had applied when I finished. I was specifically interested in going to a place where they emphasized this World Systems perspective.
To me it just seemed evident that it made the most sense to study stratification from a global perspective, which by now might be more evident, but it wasn’t so evident at the time I began my graduate studies in 1980…There was this idea of an advanced first world, a socialist second world, a third world…So the idea that you could study all of these countries as part of a whole, was relatively innovative.
What makes it an approach and not a theory?
Well, there are two reasons why. First, within a world systems approach, you have different types of perspectives. Second, a theory usually implies that you have a set of hypothesis that you can test in different cases in different situations. Whereas, when you’re focusing on the world system as a whole, you’re not dealing with different cases, you’re dealing with a single instance in the development of a world system. So, it’s hard to do a theory that will apply to different instances of this world system since there has historically been only one.
World Systems Analysis combines, or we can say transcends, different disciplinary methods and analysis, drawing from economics, history and geography, for example. Why did you choose sociology as opposed to another discipline?
Actually, when I started my undergraduate education, I was interested in psychology—that lasted for like one semester…
I think that it happened by chance, to some extent, that World Systems Analysis happened to be grounded in a sociology department at Binghamton. It could have been grounded in a history department and I would have been a historian. I was interested primarily in the approach and it just so happened that that approach was housed in a sociology department.
I think that it’s important to have a sense of what are the different points that different disciplines contend with—but, I think that when it comes to the analysis of the development of this world-system, these disciplinary boundaries breakdown. It sometimes becomes more productive to explore the overlaps and interstices between these disciplines than being concentrated on a single approach.
What contribution did you aim to make with Unveiling Inequality: A World Historical Perspective, which you wrote with Timothy Patrick Moran?
I think its returning to what is in a sense the most original contribution of a World-systems perspective—this emphasis on the idea that one should think of stratification, mobility and hierarchies and inequalities as being global processes. And, once you look at these as global processes as opposed to processes that occur within individual nations, it changes your perspective on what are the possibilities and constraints of different strategies of development, strategies of mobility, patterns of stratification and so forth…
On the other hand, I think a lot of people [who employ] a world-systems perspective have shifted to analyze changing patterns of hegemony and sort of international political relations. I think many people have left behind and, to some extent, forgotten, this particular argument that a world-systems perspective was making about patterns of stratification. What our book is trying to do is to provide a way for a world-systems perspective to critically re-engage with the issues of social stratification, mobility and inequality.
Finally, is there any advice you have for the graduate students? Anything you wish you had known when you were in our shoes?
[Laughs]…Well, what do I want to say here?…
Well, the obvious is that the job market has become difficult over time and that the level of professional productivity you have to show to get a job and have good chances has increased significantly. You need to be focused on how to do those things that are going to get you work…On the other hand, one has to balance that with the fact that, hopefully, one is involved in this work not just to get a job, but because one deeply enjoys this kind of work and this kind of inquiry, no?
This is one of the moments in life where you’re going to have the most time available to dedicate to critical inquiry, critical thinking and having discussions with fellow students and all that kind of stuff…I wouldn’t want to say push the boundaries of how long you can stay in a program, but the idea is that you make this as productive as you can for your own self-fulfillment. If that involves building up your own personal vita, that’s fine, but if you want to get more out of this experience, beyond that, you should pay attention to those goals too.
If you want to know more about Patricio, he’s connected, add him as a friend on facebook!
We asked the following questions to the newest members of the sociology graduate student body:
1. Why did you choose to come
to the University of Maryland?
2. Why did you choose to study sociology?
3. What do you hope/expect to do
when you leave the University?
4. What is one thing, outside of earning a PhD, that
you want to accomplish while at the University?
5. Do you have any nicknames
you want us to know about?
6. Do you have any nicknames you
*don’t* want us to know about?
7. Is there anything funny/ weird/ awesome
shameful about you that you think should
be advertised to the whole department?
Here is what they said:
1. Had everything I was looking for.
2. Soc is fun!
3. Get on with a career.
4. Brush up on my chemistry.
5. “Latrick Piu”
6. You probably shouldn’t call me Patty Cake. Or PatrickStar.
7. Was able to stand and balance myself on a coke can once.
1. I honestly applied to Maryland without knowing a great deal about
it, but when I visited during the admitted students day, there was
very simply a lot that I liked. The faculty seemed engaged and
interesting, as well as pleasant and approachable; the other students
in the program seemed the same, and they spoke highly of the program
and the department during the Q&A. What ended up attracting me most
was the strength of the military sociology concentration.
2. I fell in love with sociology as the result of taking an intro
course largely on a whim. It offered a fascinating framework for
examining and understanding the world, and I knew I wanted to pursue it as far as I could.
3. The ideal situation is, of course, a tenure-track position at a
good research institution, but we’ll see what the future brings. I’m trying to keep an open mind.
4. I want to take advantage of the opportunities the university offers to become familiar with the current research in the field in greater depth, to form relationships within it and hopefully to make some real contributions to it.
6. Not telling.
7. My father, who is a professor of geology, wanted to name me “Glacia
Moraine.” At least, this is what he says. I’ve never figured out
whether or not he was kidding.
Dave Paul Strohecker
1. I decided to come to Maryland because of the urgings of my mentor, Joe Feagin. He told me that this would be the place where I would find the most acceptance and freedom to pursue my studies in critical race theory. He advised me that this was one of the most diverse campuses in the U.S., that the department was more tolerant than many, and that it was a state school with a good reputation.
2. I was originally drawn to sociology because of my interest in
feminism. I took an intro class on gender and it immedietely sparked my interest. Feminist theory resonated with me and validated my self-identity. From there, I slowly fell into studies of race/ethnicity. I was hesitant at first, until I became disillusioned with all that I had been taught since I was young. Growing up as a white, middle-class male kept me insulated form seeing much of the injustice all around me. I became disgusted with my own latent prejudices and hatred and began to see social justice as my both mycalling and my obligation.
3. I hope to be a well-versed and competent anti-racist. I expect to
get a job at a research or teaching university and then use my
position as a springboard to teaching future generations about
systemic oppression and conducting research that will improve social
4. I would like to become a proficient speaker of truth; and I would
like to become an inspiration for young people who don’t identify with
the prevailing social order. I want to teach young people to discover
the power of knowledge and how it can be used a tool for solving
5. Nope. You can make one up for me.
6. My mom has always called me “Sparky.” I think it sounds like a dog’s name.
7. My entire upper body is covered with tattoos. It’s my guilty/selfish pleasure.
Margaret Austin Smith
2. See above.
3. I’d feel very blessed to be able to teach and work on meaningful research.
4. Spend as much time outside as possible.
5. Meg works.
6. My sister calls me Large Marge.
7. I ran track and cross country at the University of North Carolina and have two ACC championship rings. Go heels(!).
2. I like the perspectives that sociology offers for understanding
society, especially in regards to understanding issues of social
3. I would love to teach at the university level, but I also want to
make sure I do research that is useful for policy makers.
4. I feel like if I don’t say ‘publish’ it means I haven’t been paying
attention for the last few weeks. Outside of that, I want to make it
a priority to attend lectures, presentations, films and discussions from a variety of disciplines that the University brings to campus.
5. None in particular, but few people actually call me Joanna.
7. I’m addicted to Israeli Dancing and Salsa Dancing.
1. I chose UMD because it is a big public university with a great
sociology program. I also really like the DC area, so it was a great
3. After leaving here I would like to establish myself in academia butalso spend time working outside of academia and applying my
knowledge/skills to issues of social justice and development.
4. Staying out of the regular labor force for another few years.
5. Gross Face Killah
6. Gross Face Killah
7. In first grade I put a balloon in the pencil sharpener and had to
miss gym class.
1. The University of Maryland’s reputation in Sociology for the study of theory and place.
3. Live a full and meaningful life. Enjoy some limit experiences.
4. Learn Chinese.
7. I just became engaged to my girlfriend, Meghan Martzolff, of three
and a half years at the end of this past July.
1. I chose to come to University of Maryland because the Sociology
department is ranked well and the people within the department are
really nice. I felt like I would fit in well and be happy here.
3. I hope to acquire a tenure-track position upon leaving the university.
4. I hope to learn how to be a good teacher.
5. Nope, no nicknames.
6. Fortunately, I have no hidden nicknames either. The trick here is to not acquire any while at UMD.
7. As a small child growing up in rural Pennsylvania, I used to think that the first day of deer season was a holiday because we got the day off from school.
1. I was drawn to the diverse research interests of the faculty, as
well as the friendly atmosphere among the graduate students and
2. The problem-solving aspect of sociology is appealing to me.
Sociological research is fascinating, and it can be practical and
relevant to real-life problems.
3. I hope to continue in academia in research and teaching.
4. Too many to list.
5. My family calls me Sus.
6. I’m ok with whatever.
7. No need to advertise, I’m sure my quirks will be exposed eventually. 🙂
2. I have a Political Science background and found myself more intrigued by the Political Sociology literature.
4. Swim more.
7. I am a terrible swimmer.
2. I initially went into sociology for conflict resolution, but that
quickly changed. I danced around the discipline for a year or so, and
soon found out that you can do pretty much anything in sociology,
which I have come to love.
3. I hope to work at a university.
4. Other than getting published, which is highly stressed by all, I
would also like to just feel like I have an expertise in my field.
1. When I came to the welcome weekend in March, I got to see how
close-knit and supportive the faculty and the grad students were.
That’s a very different experience to what I’m used to, and it was
refreshing to see.
2. My first sociology class was also my first semester in undergrad.
It started only two weeks before the WTC attacks on 9/11/01. After
that day, the entire campus changed, as did the nation, and my
sociology professor really helped me to understand it all. Since then,
I’ve seen a lot of answers– and some interesting questions– while
3. I want to apply my studies toward doing research in the field of
medical sociology and stratification.
4. I have very little teaching experience. I hope to become a better
teacher/communicator while I’m here.
5. At Cal I was JoJoBee. At Chicago I was Wag. I’ll pretty much answer
to anything if you say it nicely.
6. There’s only a handful of people who can get away with calling me
Joey. I usually hate that name. Also, my mother likes to call me
Puppy, but I don’t like that to get around too much…
7. I’m pretty boring, actually. But I’m confident that plenty of
interesting stories will come out of my time at the University of
1. I choose to come to the University of Maryland because of the military sociology specialization area, which was one of my main interests. The incredible caliber of professors at Maryland and the great location of the campus (for military sociology and or personal reasons) is what initially drew me to Maryland. After the visit days, I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the graduate department. It was exactly the kind of supportive, challenging, and passionate department that I was looking for.
2. When I was in college I initially thought that I wanted to study Psychology, but after taking a Psychology course I decided that it was too science based and too focused on a micro-level of analysis. I had always been curious about the bigger picture, and once I took a few Sociology courses…I was hooked, and I never turned back.
3. I hope to have grown both personally and academically, as well as form lasting relationships with my peers and the professors.
4. Attend at least one game or event from every sport. I was deprived of the Division-1 big school sporting games when I was an undergrad because I went to a school of 1,300 and sports were not nearly as exciting as they are at Maryland.
6. Again, nope.
The mission of the Graduate Student Forum (GSF) is simple:
to provide graduate students in the Department of Sociology
with representation and a voice concerning matters relevant to
their academic, professional and personal lives while here at the
University of Maryland.
According to the GSF “Constitution,” the elected members’
primary functions include, but are not limited to, the following: (1)
facilitating faculty-student relations; (2) serving as representatives
on departmental committees; (3) assisting the academic and
professional needs of the graduate student body; (4) providing an
outlet for student grievances in a safe environment; (5) handling
administrative graduate student needs; and (6) building and
maintaining community peer interactions and relationships.
While the mission of the GSF is focused as a body that advocates
for us, the graduate students, there are multiple ways in which to
participate. First, it is an open venue for all current graduate students
in the University of Maryland’s Department of Sociology. Second,
there are elected positions that comprise the GSF’s administrative
and foundational body.
Perhaps you recently saw an email from us (Heather Marsh and
Nathan Jurgenson — in case you are part of the new cohort, we
are the 2008-2009 co-Presidents) calling for election nominations.
The structure of the GSF is being changed this year to make the
GSF more up-to-date and relevant and we hope to do this through
“Teams” that work together on common projects and report to, and
work with, the other GSF Teams.
The Teams include: an Administrative Team (2-3 members) that is
made up of the President and/or Co-President and Treasurer; a
Community Building Team (5 members) that includes the Department
News Reps (2), the C. Wright Mills Rep (1), and the Social Chairs (2);
the Representative Team (8 members), includes a Pre-candidacy Rep
(1), a Ph.D. Rep (1) and General GSF Reps (6); and lastly, there are
Committee Representatives (4 members), including Admissions Reps
(2), a Policy Committee Rep (1) and an Awards Committee Rep (1).
Your browser may not support display of this image. Perhaps the
biggest different between the updated GSF this year and the GSF
of old will be the addition of six General GSF Reps. The General
GSF Reps will work to stay in touch with issues concerning
graduate students and bring these issues to the GSF meetings,
organize informational seminars and be available to serve on various
department committees as needed.
In case you were wondering about the “forUM” in the title of
this article or the logo (credit for our new logo goes to Nathan
Jurgenson), this is a play on the word suggested by our own John
Pease that combines “forum” with “for UM” or “for University of
Maryland.” On behalf of the outgoing GSF, remember to pay your
dues (thanks Molly Clever!) and vote in the upcoming GSF election.
-Heather Marsh and Nathan Jurgenson
The 2009-2010 year will be a year of transitions for us. We hope to
bring in three to four new faculty in demography, military sociology,
and qualitative methods. At the same time, we will be losing Bart
Landry and Mady Segal to retirements. Each has been with the
department over 30 years, and each will leave lasting legacies on
the stratification and military sociology programs that will continue
to benefit us for years to come.
This is also a year of transition to a revised graduate program.
The changes move us towards more emphasis on mentoring and
research apprenticeships and somewhat away from a structured
program of coursework. One objective is to permit students to
get involved in research and publications earlier in their graduate
training. Another objective is to provide more space for individualized
programs of study and investigation. Like all plans, its success
depends as much on good implementation as on good design,
so 2009-2010 will be our first test.
The undergraduate program also faces challenges. On the one
hand, we hope to work towards a firmer consensus on the content
of our core curriculum so that different instructors and different
semesters will still provide the same foundation. At the same time
we are looking for ways to expand research experiences and honors
opportunities for our majors.
Most obviously for me, 2009-2010 is a year of transition to a new
chair. So far, everybody has been wonderfully patient as I get
adjusted to the new duties. Fortunately, we are building on the great
year we just finished. Distinguished University Professor Patricia Hill
Collins presided over the annual meeting this August as the 100th
president of the American Sociological Association. We continued
to rise in the U.S News national rankings (now 20th). We graduated
almost 150 undergraduate majors in the last year. And we accepted
one of the largest and best qualified graduate cohorts ever.
So, welcome to a year of transitions. With everybody helping
and with a little bit of good luck, it can be a year of lasting