My teaching interests are broadly in the areas of methods, crime and punishment, inequality, family demography, and theory. Below you can find descriptions of some of my courses.
SO360. Abolition. Fall 2022. The United States incarcerates more people than any other nation in human history, and the prevalence and consequences of incarceration are grossly unequal. Many believe this is a sign that our criminal justice system is not working and needs to be reformed. Others, however, believe the system is functioning as intended, and therefore needs to be abolished. This course critically examines prison abolition as a logic and practice of social analysis and social action. We will draw from the history of slavery and other abolition movements to better understand the case for prison abolition. We will also explore whether other systems of social control such as police, border enforcement, and child protective services should also be abolished. To the extent possible, we will draw from case studies to evaluate the feasibility and impact of abolitionist goals.
SW200 SO. Understanding Society: Inequalities in Society. Fall 2022. This course is an introduction to sociological thought and analysis. The sociological perspective will help you better understand the world we live in and its impact on our lives. Sociology will also help you develop your critical thinking skills, most especially by challenging you to reexamine aspects of our everyday world that you may have always taken for granted. In this course, you will learn the basic theoretical perspectives, research methodologies, key concepts and ethical principles within the discipline of sociology, therein learning to think sociologically. However, the issue of inequalities will be a consistent theme throughout the semester. Unequal life-chances along dimensions of race and ethnicity, class and status, sex and gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, ability, and other attributes and identities is one of the most prevalent, persistent, and urgent problems addressed by sociology. We will utilize the sociological perspective to advance your understanding of the dimensions, causes, consequences of social inequalities and their potential solutions.
HONR 102. Doing the Most Good. Spring 2022. How can we do the most good? This course offers a critical introduction to effective altruism, an emerging perspective on how to answer this question. Through readings in moral philosophy and social science, we will develop a toolkit for making decisions about how best to use our time and resources. We will then explore the questions that effective altruists grapple with. How should we prioritize causes like saving human lives, reducing animal suffering, or averting nuclear war? How can we make the greatest impact through our careers, our financial decisions, or our political activism? Although the course will engage theoretical issues, emphasis will be placed on the concrete implications of effective altruism for our personal choices.
Indiana Women's Prison
Incarceration and Inequality. Spring 2021. The United States incarcerates more people than any other country. But incarceration is deeply divided by race, gender, socioeconomic status, and geographic location. This course will explore the patterns and consequences of U.S. mass incarceration, paying particular attention to two questions. First, how does the experience of incarceration reflect pre-existing social inequality between different groups of people? Second, how does incarceration create inequality between those who do and do not experience it? The course will explore these questions through a variety of topics. These will include: the history of U.S. incarceration; race, class, and gender inequality in imprisonment; conditions of confinement; prisoner re-entry and life after prison; and the effects of imprisonment on families and children.
University of California, Berkeley
SOC 5. Evaluation of Evidence. Summer 2018. We have ever more access to information about social life, but this does not necessarily lead us to cite facts more accurately or to use facts to justify our opinions. Without trusted tools for finding meaning in social information, how do we know how to think and act responsibly? By surveying the logic and logistics of empirical social research, this course will introduce you to a set of principles and practices for finding things out about the social world. You will learn to design and implement your own basic social research projects, including asking clear questions, collecting high-quality data, using the appropriate tools to analyze data, and communicating your findings effectively. You will also learn to evaluate knowledge claims about social life by examining whether they are based on good evidence, sound reasoning, and ethical practices.