two teaching things

Following up on Jessica’s post, I’ll report an exploratory assignment that worked surprisingly well for introducing students quickly to the diversity of sociological topics and a classic class discussion topic (suicide) that worked well but had a worrisome angle.  Neither is the “blow you away this was awesome” reaction of Jessica’s experience, but either or both might promote useful exchanges about teaching. Continue reading “two teaching things”


It’s humbling to go to the library every once in a while. Standing in the stacks reminds you of all the things you don’t know – regardless of whether you think of these as the things you have left to learn, the things you’ll never know, or the things that others don’t know either so you’re clearly not all that inferior. If you’re too lazy busy to walk to the library, watching this video might suffice.

Edited to add: Apparently BBC blocked the video. UK readers are still able to see it (part of the “Super Smart Animals” program) here.

there but for the grace of god?

Someone has launched an effort to crowdsource the pay and working conditions for adjunct faculty (Google doc).

In case that was too depressing, I have added an adorable video of Veronica Mars going ape[bother] over having a sloth at her birthday party. Note that you, too, can have a sloth appear at your birthday party, as long as you are willing to teach forty-ish English courses next semester for $600/course at South Suburban College.

relevant reading assignment.

This semester, I’m teaching the second iteration of a senior seminar I created last year. The class, Socialization and the Life Course, explores social influences on our lives from before birth to after death. The class was wildly successful last spring and it’s shaping up to be just as good – although quite different – this time around. One of my favorite additions to the class is what I call the “relevant reading assignment.” I thought I’d share it here for others to consider.

Continue reading “relevant reading assignment.”

become a groups groupie.

This year I’m co-organizing the 24th Annual Group Processes Conference – a mini-conference that takes place the day before the ASA meetings in Denver. I know there are lots of options for pre-conference conferences, but I’m going to spend some time convincing you that this is the gathering to attend.

Oddly enough, I’ll begin by telling you about my book club.

Continue reading “become a groups groupie.”

ask a scatterbrain: too few papers for my asa session

A reader writes:

I agreed to organize a Regular Session for Denver. Disappointingly, there are only three papers submitted, and one of those was transferred in from a Section.

  1. Is there a norm of recruiting submissions to one’s session? If so, I wish I had known. And more importantly:
  2. Now what? I am considering accepting the three papers, almost without regard for their quality or their relationship to each other.

access to what?

As a result of the recession and the Republican takeover of the NC legislature, the UNC system has taken–and is expecting more–major cuts to its state appropriation. Unlike some other public flagships, notably Michigan and Virginia, UNC is very much a state school and we are very dependent on that state money to remain high quality, public, and accessible. UNC tuition remains very low compared to peers, but far from negligible. Continue reading “access to what?”

reed, interpretation and social knowledge

This is the first in what I hope to be a series of notes on things I’ve read recently. This one opens discussion of Isaac Ariail Reed’s Interpretation and Social Knowledge: On the Use of Theory in the Human Sciences (Chicago 2011), a small but very ambitious book by one of the most interesting young pure theoreticians in sociology now. Continue reading “reed, interpretation and social knowledge”

how not to graph trends over time

Talking Points Memo has a slide showing President Obama’s approval rating 2011-2012:

Putting the theorized causes of opinion shift between the two lines is pretty, but misleading since at least to me it implies that these events caused the difference between the two lines, not the change in the overall rating.

More misleading–though in a direction that undermines the graph’s thesis–is the manipulation of the y-axis so it ranges only from 40 to 55. The graph’s claim (that the President’s approval is “Nearly back to where it started”) is sort of true, but truncating the y axis makes it look false, since the Gallup line has fully 33% of the y axis to go before matching its peak!