Having graduated from Mason in 2013, I am now a tenure-track faculty member in the Department of Sociology at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts. I teach undergraduate courses in family, medical, and public sociology. I also teach graduate courses in the School of Social Work, and am affiliated with the university’s Center for Civic Engagement. I also serve as Faculty Advisor for the university’s Florence Luscomb Women’s Center, and as Faculty Fellow for the First Year Experience. In my current position, I’m able to get my hands dirty in a little bit of everything!
At Mason both the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Center for Social Science Research guided me toward my work in public sociology, civic engagement, and community-based participatory action research. My approach to teaching and student learning reflects my training in public sociology. While there is considerable debate in the discipline about what “public sociology” actually entails, I understand it as a way to bring the sociology we teach and learn in the classroom to communities and public spaces beyond the classroom. In other words, I envision public sociology as an engaged sociology wherein students apply the language, concepts, and methodological approaches of the discipline to their own lives and the lived experiences of others. Through unique and engaging assignments like digital storytelling, blogging, and memoir-writing, and high-impact teaching practices like service-learning, I encourage students to go beyond simply thinking sociologically by putting what they learn in the classroom into real, everyday practice.
Through my work at the Center for Social Science Research I honed my skills in community-based participatory action research. This cutting-edge approach engages community members beyond the university to create research questions and instruments, collect and analyze data, present findings, and create plans for action. In valuing multiple forms of local and expert knowledge, community-based participatory action research builds bridges between universities, community partners, and residents. Through projects in Reston and Richmond, I developed skills that helped me build relationships with community partners in the Boston area, including the North Shore Community Development Coalition and Salem GreenSpace. For people like me who look for ways to bring sociology out of the classroom and into the community, Mason’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Center for Social Science Research are a great fit!