As the Coordinator for Multiracial & Native American Indian/Indigenous Student Involvement at the University of Maryland, College Park, public sociology informs my work through its basic tenant of making sociology accessible and applicable to the daily lives of citizens. It is about going beyond simply researching social problems and publishing in academic journals. Sociology should be where academia and communities intersect―where community-based participatory research is common, information is disseminated in ways that are culturally relevant and accessible to the community and findings are used to inform action.
Working in student affairs at a public university allows me to tie community-based co-curricular experiences into my courses. One such example is what I call “poetic public sociology.” In the educational environments I foster for students, both inside and outside of the classroom, I utilize poetry as a medium for teaching and social change. I encourage students to engage in artistic expression as they examine their identity, beliefs and values. More specifically, I ask students to explicitly write themselves into their work and become cognizant of their privileged and oppressed identities as well as how their experiences and the intersectionality of their identities shape the lens through which they view society. It is my hope that through this process of self-exploration students will embrace cultural pluralism, find commonalities across differences and engage in research and dialogues that seek to benefit the greater good of society through positive social action.