In my teaching, I draw on the same ideas about belonging that drive my research. When students enter my classroom for the first time, they are all newcomers. They come with multiple components to their identities, parts of which are subjugated. Some are the “them.” To help all students develop critical thinking skills for making sense of the social world, I spend a significant amount of time building trust in relationships with students, especially during one-on-one meetings in office-hours. The more I know about my students, the more examples I can find to connect their lives to what I am teaching. I make it clear that, in my classroom, we are all the “us.” I also affirm who they are and the various cultural toolkits and learning styles they bring with them. I frequently use film, television, and music, which draw on examples familiar to students, to present my courses’ sociological content. With all these strategies, I challenge my students to live up to their highest potential.
Have a look at a sampling of my courses
Hip Hop and Urban Sociology
Our goal in this course is to interrogate some of the most pressing social problems that face urban Americans, paying particular attention to racial minorities who live in the most impoverished sections. We do so by comparing representations of these locales in hip hop music with social scientific research. We will cover four topics: economic inequality; housing and residential segregation; violence, crime, and punishment; and intimate life.
Over the last three decades, sociologists have convincingly identified housing as the "structural linchpin" of social inequalities. In this course, we aim to investigate how housing became so central to social inequalities. We do so by, first, defining housing as both a social good and a commodity. Second, we review five or so decades of housing policy before turning our attention to contemporary debates in housing policy. Third, we look into what social scientists refer to as neighborhood effects, the varied ways growing up in particular neighborhoods impact one's social behavior and life outcomes. Finally, we marshal all we have learned to think about housing in Charlotte, NC.
SOCIOLOGY OF THE SOUTH
In the late ninetieth and early twentieth century, sociologists of the south produced important politically relevant research about life in the region. These include Anna Julia Cooper's A Voice From the South, W. E. B. DuBois' Atlanta University Studies, Howard Odum's Southern Regions of the United States, Hortense Powdermaker's After Freedom, and Charles Johnson's Shadow of the Plantation. Sociology about the south has not completely disappeared, but the region has not captured much attention in recent works. In this class, we read these early sociological works about the region and compare them with a new but growing body of works about the contemporary south.
We have three main goals in this course. One is to learn about the different genres of qualitative methods and the philosophical and theoretical assumptions (ontology and epistemology) of this brand of research. The second is to learn how to evaluate qualitative research, their methodology as well as their substantive and theoretical arguments. The third goal is to learn about the nuts and bolts of doing qualitative research and how to conduct original research. We will accomplish these goals by reading and discussing (interesting) qualitative studies that cover a wide range of topics, by studying and practicing qualitative research techniques, and by conducting and reflecting on our own research.