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

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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.

Prof. Mintz wins Leadership Award of Vermont Women in Higher Education

Prof. Beth Mintz has been honored with this year’s Jackie M. Gribbons Leadership Award of Vermont
Women in Higher Education (VWHE), presented annually to a woman who has demonstrated leadership abilities and effectiveness, served as a model and mentor for aspiring professionals, developed innovated programs/activities in higher education, and contributed significantly to her institution and/or profession.

Prof. Laura Fishman Memorial July 26th

There will be a memorial service for Professor Laura Fishman on Saturday, July 26th, at 2:30 pm, in the John Dewey Lounge in the Old Mill building on the campus of the University of Vermont. Professor Fishman taught at UVM for more than three decades.

More information about her can be found here:

New publications by Fox, Fothergill

Kathy Fox recently published an article in the April 2014 issue of Restorative Justice: An International Journal, on “Restorative justice, offender rehabilitation and desistance,” with Tony Ward, and Melissa Garber. The paper examines the conceptual distinctions between rehabilitation, restorative justice and desistance theories of offender cessation from crime. (See for more details.)

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Alice Fothergill recently published an article in the June issue of Sociological Inquiry, on “Studying Displacement: New Networks, Lessons Learned,” with Lori Peek, Jessica W. Pardee, and Lynn Weber. (See for more details.)

Professor Emeritus Stephen Cutler Wins Fulbright to Estonia

From University Communications’ Lee Ann Cox:
Sociologist Stephen Cutler, the Bishop Robert F. Joyce Distinguished University Professor of Gerontology, has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. scholar grant, the fourth in his career. Next spring he will travel to the University of Tartu in Estonia, where he will teach “Aging and Social Change: Policy and Ethical Issues,” a powerfully relevant course as the Estonian population who are age 65 and older is projected to increase from 17 percent in 2010 to more than 30 percent in 2060.

The impact of such a dramatic shift will be profound, according to Cutler, including an increase in the number of familial generations -- with a corresponding increase in intergenerational caregiving, greater demands on the country’s economic resources, as well as increasing political influence by the elderly. “We know that older people vote more than younger people do,” Cutler says. “If you exclude those under 18, the voting-age population will be close to 40 percent. Issues that are salient to the elderly are going to be prominent. What is society going to be like for younger people?”

In the fall, Cutler will teach on this topic at the University of Bucharest, the location of two of his previous Fulbright awards (one award, to Malta, he declined due to illness). Romania, like much of Europe -- and countries throughout the world to a lesser degree -- faces an aging population as extreme as Estonia’s. Concerned by the lack of any systematic course work on aging there, Cutler has persuaded the university in Bucharest to develop a master’s degree to help address coming social policy issues. He hopes to achieve the same in Estonia. “I’ll consider that part of my broad Band-Aid when I go,” he says.

Meanwhile, Cutler is making the most of his own so-called retirement. “It’s been an extraordinarily rewarding teaching experience,” he says. “Part of the enjoyment and pleasure of a Fulbright is the excitement of living in a new environment. I fully expect to take advantage of getting to know people -- not just colleagues and students, but cab drivers and people in stores… and I hope to get to know some of the region, Latvia and Russia are so close.”

In Memoriam: Dr. Laura T. Fishman, Prof. Emerita of Sociology

Sad news: Dr. Laura T. Fishman, Prof. Emerita of Sociology, passed away on May 22nd. She was a fine colleague and sociologist, an advocate, a dedicated teacher, a tireless mother of her sons, and a charming and unique human being. After graduating cum laude with honors from Pembroke College in Brown University in 1959, she received an MA from the University of Chicago in 1966 and a PhD from McGill University in 1984. She had post-doctoral fellowships at Behavioral Sciences Training in Drug Abuse Research at Narcotic and Drug Research, Inc. and National Development and Research Institutes (NDRI). Her book, Woman at the Wall: A Study of Prisoners' Wives Doing Time on the Outside (SUNY Press) was published in 1990. She received the UVM Arts & Sciences Dean's Lecture Award in Spring of 1998, and the Dr. Coramae Richey Mann Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology in 2000.

Fishman began teaching at UVM in 1971. She had high standards for rigorous thought and excellent writing. Students gained immensely from her careful editing and Socratic method of sharpening their thinking and argumentation. She was also a very supportive colleague who was eager to exchange ideas with younger faculty members. She was generous with her wisdom and advice, and was valued for her insights, especially regarding racial disparities. She will be missed.

A memorial will be announced at a later date. Read her opening statement to UVM graduates in 2005 here:

Graduation day photos!

Reception for graduating Sociology seniors at 31 So. Prospect St.:

The Tolerance Trap: How God, Genes, and Good Intentions are Sabotaging Gay Equality

Suzanna Walters, April 18th, 3:30 PM, John Dewey Lounge
Suzanna Walters is Director of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program and Professor of Sociology at Northeastern University. Her book,
The Tolerance Trap, explores how notions of tolerance limit the possibilities for real liberation and deep social belonging. Her previous book, All the Rage: The Story of Gay Visibility in America examined the explosion of gay visibility in culture and politics, raising questions about the politics of visibility and sexual identity. Sponsored by The Department of Sociology and the Gender, Sexuality, and Women Studies Program.

In Memoriam: Gordon F. Lewis, Professor of Sociology Emeritus

By Craig E Wells

The College of Arts and Sciences recently learned that Gordon F. Lewis, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology Emeritus at the University of Vermont, passed away on March 18, 2014.

Prof. Lewis was an active and beloved member of the faculty and community, serving as Chair of Sociology, President of UVM's Faculty Senate, as well as many other positions. Known for his charm, amiability, and commitments to progressive social change, he was a key and influential figure at UVM. He will be missed.

Born February 25, 1924, Gordon F. Lewis came from a modest background, growing up in New Jersey during the depression. Told by his mother that "poor boys can't go to college," he ignored her advice and enrolled in Rutgers University in 1942; by March of his freshman year he was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving as a 1st Sergeant in the Pacific theatre, posted to Okinawa. In 1946, he returned to Rutgers, where he discovered the field of sociology. After getting a Masters in Sociology at the University of Kentucky, he was offered a position teaching some courses there, whereupon he decided he wanted to make a career in academia and pursued a Ph.D. He taught at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, in 1960 moved to Elmira College in Elmira, New York, and a year later took a position at UVM, where he remained an active member of the faculty until retirement in 1988.

A memorial service to celebrate Gordon's life was held at 3 p.m. April 5, 2014, at Stephen C. Gregory and Son, 427 Meadowland Dive, Suite 7, in South Burlington. Condolences may be made online at

For an interesting oral history interview of Prof. Lewis about his early life, see:

Professor Eleanor Miller Wins Fulbright to Study Drug Policy in Portugal

Eleanor Miller, professor of sociology and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, has been awarded a Fulbright research grant to study Portugal’s shift from criminalizing drug use to a treatment-based model for supporting addicts. In the spring of 2015 Miller will be based in Lisbon at Universidade Nova’s law school, Faculdade de Direito. In addition to her research she will be teaching an undergraduate course in inequality and crime and a graduate seminar in comparative drug policy. Over the past ten years, explains Miller, Portugal has, in a sense, decriminalized drugs, putting those found with less than a ten-day supply into a treatment program rather than into the prison system (though dealing drugs remains illegal). “I’m interested in what there is to learn from the Portuguese for our state,” she says, noting Vermont’s increasing problems with substance abuse. Portugal has not, Miller adds, become a tourist destination for those seeking drugs, as Amsterdam has. Miller, who has an expertise in sociology and gender, will be researching the effects of the policy on poor women in particular, as well as the broader societal impact of diverting public spending towards treatment. She expects to interview policy makers and government officials as well as private individuals.

Announcing the Frank Sampson Excellence in Social Theory Award

This award is given in the spring to a graduating senior who has excelled in social theory and intends to go to graduate school. Samuel 'Frank' Sampson was a founding member of UVM’s AKD and a professor and Chair in the Sociology Department, whose interests were many, but whose passion was social theory. It is hoped, through this award, to support and encourage students in the academic commitment to the development of sociological theory. This award will be paid to the student upon enrollment in graduate school.

Professor Kathy Fox speaks on community justice to the Center for Research on Vermont

Preview of upcoming talk by Prof. Fox, 2/25/14 7:00 pm Memorial Lounge

Kathy Fox returns from New Zealand

Prof. Fox recently returned from a Fulbright Senior Scholar semester in New Zealand, where she studied offender reintegration and the use of restorative justice process in the criminal justice systems of Vermont and NZ. She gave talks at Victoria University in Wellington, at the New Zealand Dept. of Corrections, at a NZ conference on restorative justice, and at Fulbright New Zealand. She recently published two new articles: (2013) "Incurable Sex Offenders, Lousy Judges & the Media: Moral Panic Sustenance in the Age of New Media," American Journal of Criminal Justice, vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 160-181. (2012) "Redeeming Communities: Restorative Offender Reentry in a Risk Society," Victims & Offenders, vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 97-120.

Professor Moustapha Diouf Appointed Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Senegal

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Moustapha Diouf, associate professor of sociology, has long wanted to help improve the quality of life of the people of his native country of Senegal. He will get the chance as the newly appointed special adviser to the prime minister of Senegal and president of the Millenium Challenge Account (MCA) -- a $540 million foreign development project funded by the United States. Diouf, who became friends with the new Prime Minister Aminata Toure while working on a master’s degree in rural sociology at the University of Paris in the early 1980s, turned down previous job offers from Senegal officials, wanting to be in a position to have more of an impact on the economic development of the West African country. The addition of the powerful MCA position was exactly what he had in mind.

“They had been trying to lure me with the special adviser role, but the addition of the MCA position gives me more power vis-à-vis the U.S. government and how the $540 million will be spent," said Diouf. "The prime minister and I have shared the same dream for many years and are now in a position to realize that dream together.”

Prof. Thomas Macias: "Know your Neighbors, Save the Planet"

The old adage "it's not what you know but who you know" nicely describes the power of what sociologists call "social capital," i.e., the network of connections that shape a person's life. Prof. Macias, working with graduate student Kristin Williams, have been pioneering research into whether "who you know" can shape attitudes and behaviors towards the environment. Using 2010 General Social Science data, they have produced a series of papers that have been presented at conferences and submitted to journals.

Kaelber research on Eugenics in the media

Professor Lutz Kaelber:
Working on the history of eugenics in Europe and the U.S. continues to gain attention in the press and among policymakers and activists. Because of his ongoing work on both Nazi and U.S. eugenics efforts - including forced sterilizations in Vermont in the 1920s and in North Carolina up into the 1960s - in 2013 Kaelber has been approached for information and interviews by BBC America, Al Jazeera America, Russia Today, WCAX, and the Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association, as well as a journalist contributing to the New Yorker's Elements blog and an individual working for the Catholic Charities West Virginia.