Soc. Major first UVM student to study in the UAE

From CAS News: “Charis Jones hadn’t settled on a major when she arrived at UVM three years ago. An introductory class taught by Ellie Miller ignited her interest in sociology and the “Political Islam” course taught by Jan Feldman focused her interest in Middle Eastern Studies. That all morphed into a double major in sociology and political science. When she considered a semester abroad, she embraced the notion of getting out of her comfort zone.

“‘I wanted to lose myself in a totally unfamiliar culture,’ she said. ‘I also liked the idea of being around people who were dramatically different from me. For the first time in my life I know what it feels like to be a minority. I think it’s important to experience that.’

“Jones is the first UVM student to study in the UAE, a monarchy made up of seven small sheikdoms on the Persian Gulf that were English protectorates until 1971 when the country gained independence. She admits the environment is a startling contrast to the northeast where she’s spent most of her life.”

Prof. Fox Spearheads College in Prison Initiative

‘When sociology major Emily Fixx ‘17 arrives for her 6 p.m. class on Monday, she leaves her keys, cellphone, and water bottle at the door and walks through a metal detector under the watchful eye of a correctional officer. This is not part of an extreme new measure to remove distractions from the classroom. It’s part of the routine for Fixx and 11 UVM classmates who are taking a justice course this semester along with eight inmates at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington.

‘“When you get inside the building, you notice that the next door never opens until the door behind you closes,” Fixx said. “That’s the worst moment—you have a sense of what inmates go through every day, this sense of closure, of doors shutting behind you.”

‘Opening doors, for UVM students and their counterparts in the prison, is the impetus for the class taught by Kathy Fox, professor of sociology and director of the new UVM Liberal Arts in Prison Program (LAPP) administered by the College of Arts and Sciences. It is the first time in Vermont that undergrads and inmates have taken a course together on the “inside,” and it represents the first step in UVM’s participation in the renowned Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison.’

Soc. Faculty Speak on the Trump Effect: Video

Video of The Trump Effect: What sociologists can tell us about the 2016 Election, a panel discussion on 2/2/2017
Featuring Professors Katrinell Davis, Lutz Kaelber, Tom Macias, Tom Streeter, and Jennifer Strickler.
How do we understand the sociological factors that led to the election of Donald Trump? What role did the media play? How will Trump’s presidency affect issues such as reproductive rights, immigration, and the social safety net?

Sociology students present original research

This spring, several Sociology students presented original research at conferences. In March, seniors Nic Hutt and Colby Cayton presented their honors theses research at the Eastern Sociology Society’s meetings in Boston. And in April, Nic, Colby and Ashley Usseglio presented their work at UVM’s Student Research Conference.

ESS 2016 student presentations 1
Nic Hutt and Colby Cayton at ESS in Boston.

Usseglio 2
Ashley Usseglio at the Student Research Conference

Cayton Student Research Conference
Colby Cayton at the Student Research Conference

Hutt_student research conference
Nic Hutt at the Student Research Conference

Prof. Danigelis celebrated with "Last Lecture" invitation

Prof. Nicholas Danigelis has been elected by students to deliver a “Last Lecture” Wednesday, April 13th 7:00PM in the Livak Ballroom of the Dudley H. Davis Center.

The Last Lecture series, organized by the UVM Program Board, asks UVM faculty & staff to think deeply about what matters to them, and provide a forum for them to lecture on a topic of their choosing, as if it were their last time to do so. The content of these lectures can vary, but the underlying question is the same: What wisdom would you try to impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance? Danigelis Last Lecture

Prof. Fox receives Service Learning Award

Prof. Kathy Fox, pictured below with College of Arts and Sciences Dean William Falls, is the recipient of the CUPS 2016 Lynne Bond Award for Outstanding Service Learning Faculty.


Prof. Khanna presents Keynote to Blackboard Jungle conference

Prof. Nikki Khanna delivered a keynote address to UVM’s annual Blackboard Jungle conference. Here address concerned the controversy about Rachel Dolezal and what it tells us about racial identity in the contemporary world.

Prof. Fox wins Frank Bryan research award

“There are few things that matter in the world that can’t be studied in Vermont,” argued UVM Political Scientist Frank Bryan. Bryan studied the “truths of the universe” through examining how community is built through local decision-making in Vermont town meetings.

Over the years of studying Vermont’s efforts to involve local communities and citizens in criminal justice, Kathy Fox believes that the Vermont ethic of “participatory democracy, civic engagement, and communities taking care of their own” has enabled Vermont to be a world leader in its approaches to community justice.

The Center for Research on Vermont has selected Kathy Fox, professor of sociology at the University of Vermont, as the 2016 Frank M. Bryan Vermont Scholar, for a Vermont research project on offender reintegration.

The Frank M. Bryan Vermont Scholar Summer Research Award provides $5,000 dollars in summer salary to faculty and independent scholars conducting Vermont research. The award is named in honor of Frank M. Bryan (who retired in 2013) -- an internationally recognized scholar who devoted much of his career to studying democracy with Vermont as the laboratory. A founding member of the Center for Research on Vermont, Bryan is a trustee of the Vermont Historical Society and the recipient of the Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2013).

Fox’s research plan stems from her years of experience conducting qualitative research on offender reintegration in Vermont, specifically focusing on the ways in which the state has used federal funding for innovative programs to help released prisoners transition home. Fox has also conducted extensive evaluations on Vermont’s Circles of Support & Accountability (CoSA) program for high-risk offenders released from prison. The CoSA program employs local volunteers to support and monitor high-risk offenders in the community.

Vermont runs the largest CoSA program in the United States, yet no systematic quantitative analysis has been done on the program’s effectiveness in terms of reducing reoffending or other objective measures. Fox’s research aims to analyze the relative success of CoSA in Vermont through examining data from 160 CoSA files. Her project will focus on evaluating whether CoSA works differently for violent and other types of offenders, a groundbreaking task that no researcher in the world has yet done.

Kathy Fox’s research will pose significance on local, national, and international levels in determining best program practices for prisoner reintegration and models for managing crime risk in communities.

Prof. Fox lecture: why hotels in New Zealand Have Trampolines


“Why Hotels in New Zealand Have Trampolines: Risk, Responsibility, and Legal Consciousness”
Prof. Kathy Fox
January 26, 4:00 pm Memorial Lounge Waterman


Both the U.S. and New Zealand are common law countries, both former British colonies. Yet the U.S. is notorious for its litigation, while New Zealand has the most comprehensive “no-fault” system in the world. Even in cases of negligence, victims can apply to the government for compensation; the burden for accidents and injuries is shared communally. Is there something unique about New Zealand legal consciousness? Do New Zealanders think di erently about ma ers related to risk- taking, harm, and remedies? Professor Fox will discuss the interaction between legal structure, culture, and the ways that law figures into everyday lives and experiences, particularly around notions of risk, responsibility, and remedy.

Get the inside story about Sociology

PEER ADVISING EVENT! Thinking about majoring in Sociology? Or want advice from senior majors before spring registration? Come to our advising event Wed. Nov. 11th at 7pm in the Soc. Dept. building. We will have pizza and soft drinks! RSVP to Salli Griggs ( so we know how much pizza to order. Questions? contact Kathy Fox ( Hope to see you there!

Prof. Cutler returns to Romania as Fulbright Specialist

Steve Cutler, Professor of Sociology Emeritus and former Fulbrighter to Romania (2004 and 2011-2012), will be returning to Romania in October, 2015 under the auspices of the Fulbright Specialist Program. While there, he will be assisting the Faculty of Sociology and Social Work at the University of Bucharest in initiating their new master’s degree program in aging. (For more information, see, His most recent research appears in three forthcoming articles: “Worries about Getting Alzheimer’s: Who’s Concerned?” AMERICAN JOURNAL OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND OTHER DEMENTIAS; “Population Ageing and Volunteering in Romania,” REVISTA DE ASISTENŢĂ SOCIALĂ (SOCIAL WORK REVIEW); and with Corina Brăgaru, “Long-Term and Short-Term Predictors of Worries about Getting Alzheimer’s Disease,” EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF AGEING.

Fothergill's Children of Katrina launches

Alice Fothergill’s and Lori Peeks book about a major study, Children of Katrina, has recently launched to positive reviews.

Children of Katrina examines the experiences of children and youth in Hurricane Katrina and how their lives unfolded in the catastrophe and displacement. Professors Fothergill and Peek spent seven years studying a group of children and youth, as well as their families, friends, neighbors, and teachers, among others. They observed and interviewed young people who ranged in age from 3- to 20-years of age at the time of the storm. In addition to the larger sample of over 500 children and youth whom they studied, they also followed a select group to explore more intensely how this catastrophic event unfolded in their lives. It was their goal to understand their experiences, to identify how others assisted in their recovery, and to document how they helped themselves and other children recover after Katrina.

While children are often depicted in monolithic ways—as little rubber balls that will just "bounce back" after disaster, or, conversely, as totally vulnerable victims who are helpless in the face of extreme adversity—their research revealed the complexity of their lived experiences in the aftermath of Katrina. Specifically, their work identifies three recovery patterns: (1) The Declining Trajectory: These children experienced simultaneous and ongoing disruptions in their families, schooling, housing, health and health care, friendships, and other key areas of their lives; (2) The Finding Equilibrium Trajectory: After an initial period of disruption and minor decline, these children were able to attain stability; and (3) The Fluctuating Trajectory: Children who followed this trajectory had a mixed pattern of post-Katrina stable moments followed by unstable periods in their lives. Fothergill and Peek also found that children had many capacities in the disaster and throughout displacement, including helping themselves, adults, and other children in numerous ways.

UVM Sociology Students engage the community

Sociology courses at UVM often lead our more advanced students into many different kinds of community engagement. For example, in our internship seminar recently taught by Prof. Fothergill, students sometimes publish editorials in the local papers that express some of what they learned and are concerned about. For example, this past month, Jason Haynes, Sam Cohen, and Stephen Roberge published opinion pieces in the Burlington Free Press.

Prof. Khanna widely consulted in Dolezal controversy

Prof. Nikki Khanna, an expert in shifting racial identities and the social construction of race, has been widely sought after by the media in the wake of the controversy about Rachel Dolezal. Some of the media outlets where she was quoted or appeared include:

BBC Newsnight (the main news & current affairs program on the BBC). 2015. ( link can only be accessed in the UK
The :30 on WCAX (Burlington, Vermont). 2015. “UVM Sociologist on Racial Identity.” (
Wheeling, Kate. 2015. “An Expert Weighs in on the Strange Case of Rachel Dolezal.”
Pacific Standard Magazine. (
Eversley, Melanie. 2015
. “Whites Pass for Black to Gain Empathy, Experts Say in Wake of Dolezal Case.” USA Today (
Williams, Michael P. 2015. “NAACP Officer’s Deception Sparks Needed Dialogue on Racial Identity.”
Richmond Times Dispatch. (
Holland, Jesse. 2015. “Choosing Your Own: Definition of Race Becoming Fluid.” Associated Press. ( Reprinted in places such as:
ABC, US News & World Report, Salon, The Washington Post, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Richmond Times Dispatch, Washington Sun Herald, Knoxnews, New Zealand Herald, the Seattle Times

CBC Radio 1, The Current with Anna Maria Tremont. 2015. Panelist on “Rachel Dolezal: The Politics of Race Not-So-Black-And-White.” (

Prof. Macias' work highlighted in the Washington Post

Recently published research in the journal Environment and Behavior has detected another factor involved in the shaping of an environmentalist, and this one is social rather than psychological (not that these two things can ever be fully disentangled). The factor? Spending more time with neighbors and friends, as opposed to spending it with your relatives. The former was associated with pro-environmental views and behaviors, and the latter, fascinatingly, with their opposite. The study, by Thomas Macias and Kristin Williams of the University of Vermont in Burlington, turned to that vast repository of data on Americans, the General Social Survey. From the gigantic dataset, they pulled out several key variables — including not just how much people behave and think like environmentalists but also how much “social capital” they have. The latter is measured by variables such as the number of “social evenings with relatives,” “social evenings with neighbors” and ‘attendance of religious services.”


Banner year for student awards

This was a banner year for student awards. At the annual Sociology Department awards ceremony, Maggie Williams received the Outstanding Senior Major Award; Rachel Hurwitz received the Outstanding Junior Major Award; Megan Kurmin received the Valerie Ann Moore TA Award; Amy Chalmers and Richie Heap together received the S. Frank Sampson Excellence in Social Theory Award; and Richie Heap received the Folta Award.

At the same event, the following students were initiated into AKD, a marker of their excellent work as sociology majors and minors: Josie Colt, Melissa Conchieri, Rose Connor, Olivia Gatter, Rocko Gieselman, Ashley Goff, Jason Haynes, Rachel Hurwitz, Alex Kreichman, Katie Maccarone, Kelly Molloy, Siobhan O’Flaherty, Lauren Porell, Kailey Rinder, Katherine Romanov, Andrew Smith, Ashley Usseglio.

There were other awards received by sociology students as well.
  • Nicolas Hutt received UVM’s Brennan Summer Research Award, which will enable him to spend the summer on a research project.
  • Sociology majors Amy Chalmers and Maggie Williams, and Sociology minor Josie Colt and Gerontology minor Maria Freitas have been invited to become members of Phi Beta Kappa.
  • Sociology major Carly Jensen was honored by CUPS as the recipient of the "Outstanding Service-Learning Student Award,” for her work with the Dewey House for Community Engagement.
  • Sociology minor Rocko Gieselman received the Provost Courage Award presented at the annual Rainbow Awards and Graduation Ceremony.

Student sociologists from Prof. Strickler’s seminar “Applied Social Research” present their research

2015-04-23 14.28.35
Sociology students do research in the real world. Student sociologists from Prof. Strickler’s seminar “Applied Social Research” analyzed survey data for the Office of Women’s and Family Services in the VT Department of Corrections. This resulted in some original research papers which they presented at UVM’s Student Research Conference, on April 23rd on the 4th Floor of the Davis Center. Amy Chalmers and Nicholas Book presented ”Previous Traumatic Experiences of Female Inmates in Vermont,” and Jason Haynes presented, “’Vermont's Carceral Children': A Predictive Data Analysis of Contact between Incarcerated Parents and their Children in Vermont.”

Talk: Culture, Technology, and Law, or, Why, Really, Do We Love Steve Jobs?

A University Scholar Talk by Tom Streeter

Wednesday, March 11, 4:00pm, 338 Waterman Building (Memorial Lounge), UVM

Few people have heard of Dennis Ritchie or Andries van Dam, but without ideas that they played a key role in developing, we would not have personal computers or the internet. Steve Jobs did not invent either of these (nor did he invent the smartphone, the digital music player, the tablet, or the mouse), but a second major Hollywood movie celebrating his life is due out soon. Why is Steve Jobs a household name?
stay hungry

In this talk, Tom Streeter dissects the extravagant media hagiography of Steve Jobs to explore how U.S. culture imagines and pursues invention, industrial regulation, and capitalism. The story of Jobs’ life as told by the media, Streeter argues, comes from an Emersonian strain of American individualism, which may be just as important to American capitalism as, say, neoclassical economic theory. Along the way, Streeter offers suggestions on how and how not to analyze the social impact of culture, technology, and media.

Discussion of careers for Sociology Majors

What Can you do with a Major in Sociology

Prof. Macias links social capital to environmental activism

Prof. Thomas Macias, with UVM graduate student Kristin Williams, recently published a study, “Know Your Neighbors, Save the Planet Social Capital and the Widening Wedge of Pro-Environmental Outcomes,” in Environment and Behavior (7/1/2014, pp. 1-30). The study illuminates the relationship of social capital with pro-environmental behavior, a willingness to make sacrifices for the environment, and participation in organized environmental activism. Three kinds of social capital are examined: relational social capital, generalized trust, and community social capital. They find that time spent with neighbors was positively correlated with both environmental lifestyle and willingness to sacrifice variables, whereas time spent with relatives was negatively correlated. Generalized trust was positively correlated with willingness to sacrifice variables, as well. Social evening spent with friends was associated with a single outcome variable: having attended an environmental issue demonstration. These findings are consistent with previous research concerning the influence of community- level dynamics on behavior, and suggest that social capital may be an important, though as of yet not well explored, mechanism for understanding shifts toward pro-environmental behavior.