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S P R I N G 2015 SOC 100 Leads Campus in Winter Term Initiative by Dan Steward Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology Between the Fall and Spring semesters, we participated in a pilot project to offer courses during a Winter Term. The Sociology Department piloted an online version of our “Introduction to Sociology.” I was fortunate to be joined by Ms. Soo Mee Kim and Ms. Rebecca Morrow for the experiment: Together we guided about seventy students through six units of material over a four-week period.

tration, prompting us to double the enrollment for the course. (We suspect that this might be a speed record for enrollments!) We have been developing our online courses for several years now, and this course was derived from an eight-week online course offered each Spring, Summer, and Fall. In SOC 100 ONL, students learn using good old-fashioned paper books as well as new-fangled streaming media (a wonderful resource provided by the UIUC libraries) and online activities in

Students have been calling on the University to offer courses over their winter break for some time now, so this was a demand-driven undertaking. UIUC offered eight courses from several colleges, including our own College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. While the University is still reviewing the results of this experiment, it seems clear that the demand for these courses is quite strong. Our offering, SOC 100 ONL, filled during the first minute of regis-


Department of Sociology University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 3120 Lincoln Hall, MC-454 702 South Wright Street Urbana, IL 61801

Dan Steward Ph.D. Moodle (e.g., quizzes, discussion forums, free-writing exercises, and even some wiki collaboration). Moodle is an open source learning platform with thousands of sites in over two hundred countries. Using this technology, which is very well-supported here by ATLAS (“Applied Technologies for Learning in the Arts & Sciences”), we provide access to course materials and activities 24/7 around the world to any enrolled

student with broadband access to the worldwide web. And while most of our students were in the United States, this was a global undertaking. The course was designed so that students could engage asynchronously with the material, the teachers, and each other. We wanted to empower students with flextime from any timezone. Course participants were sometimes on the move, and the vast majority were logging-in from outside of ChampaignUrbana. Whether from the midwest or the coasts, from Europe or the Middle East, from South Asia or East Asia, we were all able to coordinate our different holiday schedules with our different learning curves. As you might imagine, it was an intense, immersive experience for all concerned. Squeezing a full semester’s worth of material into a four-week stretch of time means that each day (with the exception of a few holidays) is an important milestone. Students were limited to one course during the Winter Term, so the folks in our little corner of cyberspace were each able to devote a substantial chunk of time to this course each day. My impression, and I’m rather confident that the students will back me up here, is that this makes for a very rich learning experience. Focused and engaged with sociology in this concentrated period, without too many distractions and competing demands on their time, our students stretched their sociological imaginations at least as much as they could in a normal term.

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2 Alumni Spotlight 2

Ph.D. Grad Stefan Timmermans Leads UCLA Sociology Department by Nicole Holtzclaw-Stone Director of Undergraduate Studies Twenty years ago, in 1995, Professor Stefan Timmermans graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with his Ph.D. in Sociology. He is currently in his fourth year as Department Chair of Sociology at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) where he also serves as a Professor. Professor Timmermans was first hired out of graduate school at Brandeis University as a lecturer for three years, but eventually was hired in in a tenure track position there and earned tenure in 2001. In 2003, Timmermans became one of the first cohort of Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars at Harvard University. In 2005, he moved to UCLA.

gave me a chance when I was a rather underprepared international student from Belgium. I had the great fortune of working with Leigh Star, Andy Pickering, and Norm Denzin on my dissertation but I enjoyed interacting with many other sociology faculty, including Tim Liao and Clark McPhail. As a student observing faculty in their exchanges, I also learned the importance of intellectual inclusion and collegiality. And of course, the critical importance of creating an intellectual

Timmermans recalls his time at Illinois in the following way, “UIUC

Timmermans’ current research focuses on whole exome sequencing. He explains, “This is a global genetic test that sequences 1% of the genome presumably involved in 90% of the disease mutations. I look at how laboratory staff, clinicians, and patients link genotype to phenotype or nature to nurture.”

Faculty News in Brief... A multi-campus team with Professor Zsuzsa Gille’s participation has received the Mellon Global Midwest award. The project, entitled Global Midwaste will create a new knowledge infrastructure for archiving and studying the relationship between wastes of all kinds and the U.S. Midwest. This will create a great boost to institutionalizing waste studies and to revitalizing interdisciplinary collaboration relevant to the people of the Midwest.

According to Timmermans, his greatest pleasure comes from his work with graduate students. “Without any hesitation, I enjoy working with graduate students the most. I cherish growing with them as they become independent researchers,” he said. Currently teaching ethnographic methods and medical sociology courses, Timmermans recalls a humorous anecdote about the first time he taught qualitative methods at Illinois: “I actually taught my first qualitative methods class at UIUC. It was then called ‘Fieldwork Methods.’ The very first time the class met, a woman stood up about halfway through and said that she was in the wrong class. She was from an agricultural program and expected a class on the sociology of fieldworkers.” In addition to ethnography and medical sociology courses that he currently teaches, he has taught courses on sociology of the body, suicide and homicide, and general research methods.

of cultivating surprises in light of existing theories.”

Stefan Timmermans, Ph.D. Class of 1995 community among graduate students stayed with me after all these years.” His book, Postmortem received the best book award from both the British and US Medical Sociology Associations. Timmermans is also accomplished in terms of qualitative data analysis and has been working with a former student, Iddo Tavory, on an alternative approach to theorizing based on qualitative observations. They call this Abductive Analysis, and according to Timmermans, it focuses on “the process

Professor Ruby Mendenhall is quoted in the Feb. 3, 2015 Atlantic magazine article entitled, “Is Ending Segregation the Key to Ending Poverty?” In the article Mendenhall discusses how race is still a factor in providing access to opportunity in terms of housing. The full article can be found in the Feb. 3, 2015 edition of Atlantic Magazine: archive/2015/02/is-ending-segregationthe-key-to-ending-poverty/385002/

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Meet the New Faculty Alumni Spotlight 3


Sociology Alumni Jeffrey Christensen Serves as Chief of Police for University of Illinois Police by Nicole Holtzclaw-Stone Director of Undergraduate Studies University of Illinois Executive Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Jeffrey Christensen graduated from Illinois Department of Sociology in 1985. Since then, he has earned a Masters of Education from the University of Illinois, graduated from both the Northwestern University School Police Staff and Command, and the FBI National Academy. Christensen’s career with the University of Illinois police has been a long one – his first job after graduating from Illinois was as a Police Officer with the University of Illinois Police, where he worked through the ranks to eventually become Chief of Police. In his current role, he enjoys working with his “staff and the community.” Christensen notes that Sociology has influenced his approach to police work in many ways. He said, “Being able to earn my degree in Sociology has allowed me to look critically at issues in all these areas. For example, recent violence involving firearms in communities needs a much deeper solution than a police response. We absolutely will not arrest our way out of that challenge. The recent events across the country questioning police – community interactions from crowd management to use of force, are much deeper than the events themselves. My specialization in Criminology is a significant asset. Additionally, my background in Sociology assists with my many years of teaching at the Community College.” Despite having received a few formal awards, Christensen is most proud of maintaining good community relationships. He said, “the accomplishments that I most proud of is the positive feedback we receive from our community surrounding the impressive work our staff does each day.” Christensen summarizes the importance of Sociology for his professional and personal life: “Social behavior touches me and others daily. From personally assessing political issues to assisting with my professional

Chief Jeffrey Christensen Class of 1985 endeavors, all social sciences are important, especially sociology.”

AKD Honors Society Inducts Fifteen New Members in Spring 2015 by Nicole Holtzclaw-Stone Director of Undergraduate Studies In Spring semester of 2015, the University of Illinois Gamma Chapter of Alpha Kappa Delta International Honors Society for Sociology inducted fifteen juniors and seniors into its local chapter. Inductees must have 60 hours of coursework completed or junior status, have earned a 3.3 overall GPA and and

3.0 GPA in Sociology, and completed four Sociology courses. The Spring inductees include: Juniors: Dessiree Monique Malone, Amirah Jamal Nasir, Jameycia Janae Jenkins, Alexander Michael Rennolett, Sara Ann Helwink, Annie Hall Jones, and Sarah Elizabeth Graves.

Seniors: Sarah Renae Iverson, Ena Puskar, Seth Michael Errion, Hojoon Jang, Amanda Michelle Studenka, Chengyu Fang, Kelsey Taylor Claypool, and Alexander Khalif Horton. The Department of Sociology wishes to congratulate all of our recent inductees into Alpha Kappa Delta International Honors Society.

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Stay In Touch 4 Do you have internship opportunities for Sociology undergraduates? Sociology students possess several skills your organization may be looking for in an intern: written and oral communication skills, computer/ technical skills, leadership, teamwork, global competency, diversity awareness, and research/statistics. If your business or organization has potential internship opportunities, please let us know. If you cannot attend our Internship Fair, we can promote your opportunity on our website. Please email: with your opportunity or any questions you may have about the program.

Support Illinois Sociology! The Department of Sociology at the University of Illinois welcomes donations and contributions to the Sociology Department Annual Fund. These funds are earmarked for helping the department carry out its mission of enhancing undergraduate and graduate education; granting awards and scholarships to students; facilitating the recruitment of outstanding scholars; putting on conferences of note; and extending the breadth and reach of our outreach programs and projects. If you or someone you know are interested in contributing to our broad range of activities, please contact us at (217) 333-1950 or at Or, donate online at: where you can also download a printable PDF form to mail in your donation if you prefer.

We want to hear from you! Mail us your contact information, or enter it online at Please mail to: Department of Sociology, 3120 Lincoln Hall MC454, 702 S. Wright St, MC 454, Urbana, Il 61801 Name_______________________________________ Year graduated________ Degree granted ___________ Email address ______________________________ Phone number___________________________________ Physical address_____________________________________________________________________________ Current position______________________________ Organization/institution__________________________ Milestones/accomplishments__________________________________________________________________ Comments________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________


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Spring 2015 Sociology Newsletter  

Department of Sociology Spring 2015 Newsletter

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