ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY
DAWN MARIE DOW
As a sociologist and professor, my time in the classroom has sharpened my analytical skills as a researcher. I approach teaching with four main goals in mind. First, I help my students become engaged learners and see connections between foundational sociological theories and seemingly common events in their everyday lives. Second, through discussion, writing, class exercises and reflection I encourage students to tackle controversial issues through respectful debate and discussion. Third, I support diversity both in terms of students’ demographic backgrounds and cultural reference points, and in terms of the diverse ways that students learn. Fourth, I engage in mentoring and advising to support students as they embark on professional lives inside and outside of academia.
In a typical class session, I bring in clips of news stories to help students move from understanding sociological concepts and theories to applying them to real world scenarios. My aim as a professor is to ensure that my students become critical thinkers who are willing to explore creative solutions to social problems. Below is a list of the courses I regularly teach.
Racial and Ethnic Inequality and Intergroup Relations (Undergrad Course Syllabus)
This lower-division undergraduate course introduces students to how sociologists conceptualize race and ethnicity and to major sociological frameworks used to understand racial and ethnic inequality including: cultural, structural, social psychological and class-based theories. Students also examine how racial and ethnic inequality are complicated by other “master identities” including gender and class. This course covers controversial topics that are often viewed as difficult to discuss in the broader society. Students learn how and why racial and ethnicity identity, rather than being fixed concepts, manifest themselves differently in different societies. In the United States - the society on which this course principally focuses – issues related to racial and ethnic identity have varied over time and sometimes within the same time frame. Students also examine how racial and ethnic inequality impact housing, relationships, employment, wealth, law enforcement, privilege and immigration.
Qualitative Research Methods (Undergrad Course Syllabus)
This upper-division undergradute course introduces students to a range of qualitative research methods used in sociology and other disciplines. These methods include interviewing, participant observations and content analysis. This course teaches students how the materials from the class are not just relevant to sociology and other academic fields but also how they connect to their broader lives. I charge students with the task of becoming sociological detectives and using their sociological imaginations to independently explore research questions of their own design. The readings are selected to provide examples of how to do qualitative research and what can be learned from qualitative research, both empirically and theoretically. Course readings also explore the dilemmas qualitative researchers confront such as how to conduct research ethically or how their background influences their findings. Through two self-designed qualitative research projects that are completed over the course of the semester, students learn how to formulate a research question, collect and analyze data to answer that question, and present their findings to others in both written and spoken forms. They also learn the value of these skills in the “real world”.
Sociology of Law
The aim of this course is to expose students to the theoretical frameworks from sociology that are used to examine how the law shapes society and society shapes the law. We will begin by reading and discussing how theorists including Marx, Weber, Durkheim and others understood the role of law in society, whose interests they saw the law serving and the law’s role in societal transformation. We will apply these theoretical perspectives to current legal issues and policies. The approach we will take to studying the law will emphasize the social, political, cultural and historical aspects of the law, rather than studying the law through legal doctrines, statutes or judicial opinions (though at times these aspects of the law will be raised). From this vantage point, this course will enable students to understand how the law influences and is influenced by social change, social reproduction and inequality (including race, class, gender, and sexuality). We will also analyze the role of law in contemporary legal issues related to these topics in order to understand and evaluate how the law seeks to achieve certain objectives such as compliance, deterrence and social control. Finally, as many of you may have an interest in pursuing a legal career, we will examine how the legal profession and the field of law have changed over time and the enduring hierarchies and divisions that have remained.
Sociology of Race and Ethnicity (Grad Course Syllabus)
This graduate level course is designed to be a primer for graduate students who are interested in pursuing comprehensive exams focusing centrally on the sociology of race and ethnicity or where issues related to race and ethnicity are a major component. The goal of this course is to introduce students to major frameworks and theories that have influenced how sociologists have come to approach the study of race and ethnicity. Although students explore race in the international context in the last couple of classes, this course primarily focuses on the United States. Students are exposed to a combination of classical scholars including W.E.B. Dubois, Oliver Cox and Milton Gordon and contemporary scholars, including Michelle Alexander, Michael Omi and Howard Winant, and Michelle Lamont. The course begins by examining the emergence of the concept of race and then moves on to examining how major theoretical frameworks conceive of racial and ethnic inequality and bias. Students discuss and critique each of these frameworks at length, detailing their contributions and limitations. Through lectures, I situate each framework in the social, historical, political, and economic context in which they emerged.
Sociology of Law; Race, Class, Gender (Intersectionality); Sociology of Gender