Although I am new to Rhodes, I have had the pleasure and privilege of teaching college students for years. I teach a variety of courses that focus on urban and community sociology, culture and inequality, social problems and research methods. In all courses, I promote the development of a sociological lens. I find that the capacity to understand individuals and their choices in context is an invaluable tool. I encourage students to take risks associated with thinking critically about the social influences on and implications of their actions—an often uncomfortable, but rewarding endeavor. I am particularly excited about making Memphis my classroom. The city has much to offer Rhodes students. Hands-on exploration of the social, cultural, economic, and environmental dynamics of the city allows us to wrestle with difficult questions about inequality, social justice, and our responsibilities for addressing communal concerns.
Cities are fascinating places—abuzz with creation and conflict, rife with possibilities, riddled with inequalities, in constant flux yet surprisingly stuck. They are places of great sociological interest to me because they provide myriad opportunities to investigate the social and cultural processes central to the reproduction of inequality and the production of equality. My research examines these processes in the context of community life—exploring, for example, how residents of a race- and class-diverse neighborhood make sense of and live with diversity, how local activists fight for credibility in a battle over the construction of a highway, or how urban communities deal with crime. In addition to advancing our understanding of urban processes, I aim to produce actionable knowledge and develop practical strategies to address social problems.
Outside the Classroom
I thoroughly enjoy returning home to visit my native Milwaukee and exploring new spots on the globe. It’s humbling and amazing to make sense of a new place – by making friends, exploring new food, new drink and new forms of trouble-making, learning a language, feeling out a local music scene, getting lost and finding my way again.
“I have always felt that the action most worth watching is not at the center of things but where edges meet. I like shorelines, weather fronts, international borders. There are interesting frictions and incongruities in these places, and often, if you stand at the point of tangency, you can see both sides better than if you were in the middle of either one.” -- Anne Fadiman
B.A., Sociology, Colorado College
M.A., Sociology, Indiana University
Ph.D., Sociology, Indiana University
Introduction to Social Research
Race and Ethnic Identities, Experiences and Relations
Urban Social Problems