New Appointment: Lecturer in Sociology

It's been a few days (ahem, longer) since I've posted. But, I have some important-ish news. 

I've been appointed Lecturer in sociology at my graduate department, here at Vanderbilt University. I'm obviously thrilled and humbled. No teaching duties as of yet, but I do hope that eventually I'll be able to teach and class and have more sustained interaction with the faculty and undergraduates majoring in sociology. I think it's important to raise the next generation of sociologists right! And by right, I mean with an intersectional lens on social structures and inequalities.

By the way, it's important to specify that this appointment is at Vanderbilt University, because the University and the Medical Center have officially divorced (that is, become different legal corporations). The effects of this change are still being interpreted by faculty and staff. As far as I can tell, things have not changed much for faculty. For staff, on the other hand, things are different, starting with benefits (don't ask me for specifics, I can barely decipher basic HR-speak). 

The change has got me thinking about the ways that the university has become an ever more corporate entity, as eccentricities and inefficiencies (like tenure for scholars who teach and conduct research in unpopular, but still important, fields). Is this simply neoliberalism finding a new and comfy home in higher education, where highly paid managers can streamline and "synergize" operations and efforts? 

What getting a degree in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis has done for me

I sometimes surprise people by telling them that I have five degrees total: 2 BAs, 2 MAs, and a PhD. They often wonder what the "other" MA is in, since one is clearly in sociology. 

The answer is "Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis" which is a very fancy phrase for higher education administration. My particular focus was on student affairs, which means that I spent a lot of time thinking about student development, and learning student development theory in addition to organizational behavior and the history of higher education. 

It turns out that nearly all of this is useful in my current work coordinating a sequence of two, never-taught-before courses on the ethics of care. We are placing students in fieldwork sites, teaching them qualitative research methods (sociology here) and we are asking them to create proposals for on-campus projects that might apply what they have learned about caring and care theory. This is where the student affairs part comes in. I can say some things about where students are developmentally, and the kinds of student affairs professionals that might be able to speak to the issues students raise in their proposed projects. And because I taught in a liberal arts college whose students are not unlike those at Vanderbilt, I can speak with some authority on student cultures.

All this to say: the detours aren't distractions from your goal, they are the journey towards your goals.