From the Chair


Now that the academic year is well underway, the buzz has returned to the Sociology Department with most of us back on campus and our classes and activities once again happening in person. Despite the continuing uncertainty about what coming seasons will bring, it is truly heartwarming to have faculty and students in Savery Hall again. We extend a special welcome to our new faculty members Jelani Ince, Theresa Rocha Beardall, Magda Boutros, and Cristina Lacomba, all settling into their new offices on the Quad. And to all the new graduate students, and second year graduate students experiencing their first quarter on campus: we are so glad you are here with us. This synergistic mingling of old and new faculty, students, and staff has re-energized many of us for what lies ahead. 

We’ve all learned a lot during these pandemic months, but one thing that remains clear is that sociological thinking has a powerful role to play helping us all make sense of the challenges in the world around us. It’s perhaps no surprise then that students are flocking to Sociology these days. As always, our students learn about social inequality, racial disparities, the data revolution, and social change, while also learning how to situate their own personal experiences into a broader sociological context. As faculty, we are learning from our new colleague Theresa Rocha Beardall’s recent article, Structured discomfort belongs in the sociological classroom, in which she makes the case for empathetic disruption. This all is hard work, and because we are committed to supporting our influx of new students during these especially challenging times, we have added another undergraduate advisor. William Atienza joins us as our third undergraduate advisor. Michelle Foshee, our new graduate student advisor, and Roxana Palma-Orantes, our new advising assistant, round out our now fully staffed Student Services office.

In October, we kicked off our colloquium series with a talk by Charles Crabtree on his research into biases about allocating scarce medical resources to Covid-19 patients. The talk marked a reboot of the types of engagement we put on hold last year, and also highlighted the importance of careful social science as we try to make sense of what the pandemic has wrought.

And now, with Fall quarter in full swing, I’m delighted to share with you our latest edition of Sociology Matters. I hope these updates help you feel connected to UW Sociology, and I invite you to share your own news of successes and life changes. Your support makes much of what we do possible. 

Katherine Stovel

Professor and Chair