The Sociology Scene: My Favorite Academic Department

Academics at Whitman are no joke: my classes challenge me, push me to think outside my comfort zone, and really make me look at the world from a completely different perspective. All of this work can be difficult, time consuming, and stressful but the professors in my department make it all worth it. So today I decided to dedicate my blog post to all the faculty in my favorite department: the Sociology department.

Neal Christopherson

  • Christopherson mainly functions as Whitman’s Director of Institutional Research and as the assistant coach for Whitman’s very own cross country team, but he also teaches sociology courses every now and then. He specializes in areas like religion and sports, but also has extensive knowledge in sociological research methods and statistics. Some of his most well known classes are “Sociology of Religion” and “Sociology of Sports”.

Alissa Cordner

  • Professor Cordner is known as the environmental studies expert among the sociology majors: she works in both the sociology department and the environmental studies department, emphasizing a focus in environmental sociology, the sociology of risk and disasters, environmental health and justice, and politics and participation. Professor Cordner is most known for her Environmental Sociology course and her Environmental Health course. Her teaching style is a great balance of both lecture and discussion, keeping students informed yet also engaged. On top of this, she’s one of the most approachable and helpful professors I’ve had at Whitman.

Keith Farrington

  • Professor Farrington is a fantastic professor who’s well known for his Sociology and History of Rock and Roll course as well as his Sociology of Prisons & Punishment class. His Rock and Roll course is a fantastic class that evaluates the evolution of music from the late 1800s to the late 1990s from a sociohistorical perspective. Meanwhile, his Prisons & Punishment class evaluates prison systems around the world and focuses on evaluating the purposes of these prisons and how effective they are. This class even includes field trips to prisons all across Washington as well as some in Oregon. Professor Farrington is well-versed in his research and teaches his class with a very playful and exuberant attitude that makes his class already ten times more interesting than it already is.

Michelle Janning

  • Professor Janning was one of the first professors I had in the sociology department and I am so glad I did. Professor Janning is always open to meeting new students who are interested in sociology and she loves to take  these students under her vast knowledgable wing. Professor Janning teaches courses like Principles of Sociology and Sociology of the Family. Her recent research has focused on digital vs. handwritten romantic communication, popular culture representation of families, gender and home decorating television, divorce and material culture, and motherhood and the management of digital photography. She’s currently on sabbatical for the year and we all miss her very much!

Helen Kim

  • I was blessed with the opportunity to have Professor Kim be my professor in Encounters and thus be introduced to the sociology department by such a passionate, caring, and well spoken scholar. Professor Kim specializes in race-relations, Asian Americans, and gender. She recently published a book with her husband called “JewAsian” which focuses on the relationship between Jewish and Asian spouses and the intersection of their race, religion, and ethnicity. Professor Kim’s teaching style focuses on a much more discussion based style that pushes students to question their thought process and be open about their opinions.

Gilbert Mireles

  • Professor Mireles is a fantastic lecturer who I finally got the privilege of having as a professor this year. In his History of Sociological Theory, he carefully crafts out a lecture that naturally lends itself to a well thought out class discussion. Professor Mireles clear and concise phrasing makes understanding complex and muddled terminology much easier to understand overall. His research is broadly focused on the socio-political integration of immigrant communities into U.S society.

Kirsten Rudestam

  • Professor Rudestam is visiting instructor of sociology who just starting teaching here at Whitman for the 2017-2018 school year. I haven’t gotten to know her teaching style yet, but I’ve been lucky enough to have her in my Sociology Seminar discussions. Professor Rudestam has a strong wit that’s great for catching important aspects of articles and research that students tend to miss or not understand. She studies water policy and management, “sense of place” with respect to resource management practices, and the role of affect and emotion in environmental politics.

Alvaro Santana-Acuña

  • I haven’t been lucky enough yet to have a course with Professor Santana-Acuña, but I’ve heard fantastic things about his Contemporary Social Theory: A Textural and Visual Approach course as well as his History of Sociological Theory course. Professor Santana-Acuña also teaches courses in Cultural Sociology and Classical and Contemporary Social Theory with a particular emphasis on visual pedagogy. He is currently finishing up his book that analyzes “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by García Márquez. His book “seeks to answer the question of how a novel that met all the conditions to be a complete failure became a global literary classic”.

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