Emory Sociology is a vigorous community of scholars. We engage in cutting-edge research, take pride in excellent teaching, and actively contribute to the University and wider community.
Our undergraduate program aims to provide a challenging introduction to the discipline as part of a first-rate liberal arts education. Our core courses — particularly those in social theory and social research — provide students with critical thinking skills and methodological abilities that prepare them for their careers and for citizenship. Our healthy range of classes also allows majors to concentrate in at least one of five broad areas — those dealing in (1) Education and Social Services, (2) Global Studies, (3) Health Services, (4) Law and Criminal Justice, and (5) Media Industries. Not surprisingly, then, many of our undergraduate alumni have pursued careers in those broad areas — as academics (graduate students and professors) or as professionals (e.g., lawyers, physicians, health care consultants, market researchers, media producers).
Certain aspects of our undergraduate program deserve special mention. RISE (Research in Sociology at Emory) allows majors to be involved in ongoing sociological research conducted by Emory Sociology faculty and doctoral candidates. Not only learning about the nitty-gritty aspects of social research, those majors participating in RISE have also contributed to projects that yielded scholarly publications. If RISE provides a window into social research, SEUSS (the Southeastern Undergraduate Sociology Symposium) provides an annual opportunity for our students to present publically the research that they themselves have conducted under the guidance of Emory Sociology professors. Finally, Comparative Health Care Systems is our own summer study-abroad course, which lasts for 5 weeks in London. Among other things, students in that course collectively pursue research that addresses the health care experiences of Londoners.
Our graduate program aims to prepare outstanding new scholars for productive careers. We strike the balance between grounding our graduate students within the broader sociological discipline and equipping them to pursue their specific substantive interests. As expected given the breadth of sociology, our faculty and graduate students excel at a wide variety of substantive topics. However, to ground our graduate students, our program emphasizes four central topics in sociology: culture, health, inequality and social psychology. Indeed, in a recent restructuring of our graduate program, we have two main concentrations that emphasize the intersections between culture and social psychology and between health and inequality. (But, we are open to graduate students pursuing other combinations — such as the intersection between inequality and social psychology or culture and health).
Of course, grounding in the discipline is only the first step in our graduate program. The second involves equipping our doctoral students so that they identify and develop their own distinct lines of research. Our graduate program facilitates this by way of low faculty-student ratios in our graduate seminars, semester-long classes devoted to the research agenda of each graduate student, short workshops throughout the semester dealing with professional and methodological topics, and close mentoring by Emory Sociology faculty (which often includes collaboration). We also work to help each graduate student develop her or his own distinctive voice as a teacher. Beyond teacher training classes, workshops, and other professional development events offered by Laney Graduate School, our graduate program also has a semester-long seminar on teaching sociology, and it provides graduate students with the opportunity to teach their own undergraduate course while at Emory. Finally, we work intently with our graduate students to identify and to receive funding from within and beyond Emory — funding that supports their research.
The preparation that our graduate program provides has served our doctoral students well, as shown by the trajectories of our alumni: roughly a one-third go on to careers at research universities, a third go on to careers at liberal arts colleges, and a third go on to careers in applied research (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Emory Sociology faculty are greatly committed to research and teaching. For example, as documented in their individual CVs, our faculty routinely publish in top-tier generalist and specialists journals. Several of our faculty have been awarded named chairs in recognition of their productivity and impact: Robert Agnew (Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Sociology) Alexander M. Hicks (Winship Distinguished Research Professor), Ellen Idler (Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Sociology), and Corey Lee M. Keyes (Winship Distinguished Research Professor). A notable number of them have earned acclaim and awards for their performance in the classroom. Furthermore, it is common for Emory Sociology faculty to combine their research and teaching efforts by collaborating and publishing with our graduate students and, sometimes, with our undergraduate students.
Emory Sociology faculty are also noteworthy for their intellectual leadership. That leadership can be seen in the positions that they have held in the broader sociology discipline. To give but one example, the American Sociological Association contains a number of “sections” devoted to key substantive concerns. Most of those sections have memberships that number in the hundreds, with a few having 1000+ members, and all of them having chairs that are annually elected to lead their respective sections. As seen in the list below, Emory Sociology faculty have often been tapped to be section chairs, particularly in recent years.
- Sociology of Education Section (Richard Rubinson, Chair, 1989-1990)
- Political Economy of the World-System Section (Terry Boswell, Chair, 1996-1997)
- Political Sociology Section (Alexander M. Hicks, Chair, 1999-2000)
- Social Psychology Section (Karen Hegtvedt, Chair, 2008-2009)
- Emotions Section (Cathryn Johnson, Chair, 2010-2011)
- Aging and the Life Course Section (Ellen Idler, Chair, 2013-2014)
- Sociology of Culture Section (Timothy J. Dowd, Chair, 2014-2015)
- Emotions Section (Karen Hegtvedt, Chair, 2015-2016)
- Social Psychology Section (Cathryn Johnson, Chair, 2015-2016)
This intellectual leadership is also demonstrated by the roles that Emory Faculty play in the publishing enterprise. For example, as again revealed in their respective CVs, most of our faculty have been on editorial boards for both leading journals, with some also on editorial boards for book publishers. This means that Emory Sociology faculty have had and continue to have an important role in shaping what research is published in a large number of venues. The leadership role is not limited to editorial boards. In fact, three of the leading speciality journals have been housed at Emory Sociology. This occurred when Socio-Economic Review was edited by Alexander M. Hicks (2002-2006 ), when Social Psychology Quarterly was edited by Karen Hegtvedt (2010-2014) and Cathryn Johnson (2010-2013), and when Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research for Culture, the Media and the Arts was edited by Timothy J. Dowd (2010-2014). This commitment to research and teaching, and this intellectual leadership, make Emory Sociology a lively place!