American Sociological Association

Section on Political Sociology

A publication of the American Sociological AssociationASA News & Events
December 2016
Volume 
44
Issue 
8

ASA Continues to Respond to the Changing Climate for Sociologists in America

The White House
Credit: 

The White House

ASA has a long and ongoing history of activity supporting diversity, inclusion, free inquiry, and academic freedom. The need for such activity has escalated in recent weeks in deeply troubling ways, with developments ranging from a rash of racist, xenophobic, and other forms of discriminatory activities on campuses across the nation to the introduction of the Professor Watchlist, which puts academic freedom in jeopardy and exposes those listed as potential targets for attacks. As such, we have been particularly active since the election:

The need for such activity has escalated in recent weeks in deeply troubling ways, with developments ranging from a rash of racist, xenophobic, and other forms of discriminatory activities on campuses across the nation to the introduction of the Professor Watchlist, which puts academic freedom in jeopardy and exposes those listed as potential targets for attacks.

  • We have organized a webinar for ASA members, “Post-Election Q&A: Strategies for Dealing with Classroom Dynamics,” facilitated by Chavella T. Pittman, Associate Professor of Sociology at Dominican University. The webinar will focus on ways that faculty, especially under-represented faculty, can address emerging classroom dynamics. Join us at 12:00 pm (EST) on January 18, 2017 (http://bit.ly/postelectionwebinar).
  • We have developed a web page that identifies key resources to support sociologists who are facing difficult situations on campus. See www.asanet.org/resources-faculty-members-following-2016-elections.
  • ASA joined with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and 27 other scientific societies to send a letter to President-Elect Trump urging that he “quickly appoint a science advisor with the title of Assistant to the President for Science and Technology who is a nationally respected leader with the appropriate engineering, scientific, management, and policy skills necessary for this critically important role.” This is just one of many direct advocacy efforts with which we are involved. We are coordinating with the Consortium of Social Science Associations, the National Humanities Alliance, sister learned societies, and other organizations to monitor and prepare responses to external threats to our teaching and scholarship and to fight for strong federal social science research funding, continued support for the administration of social surveys, and other issues of vital interest to social scientists (bit.ly/lettertoTrump).
  • The day after the election, we began to harness the power of sociology to understand the election and its implications. We asked our members to post pieces to our blog on some aspect of the campaign, the electorate, the polling processes, or the policy issues raised by this election and then consider the insights and understandings that arise from the application of the data and methods within our sociology toolkit. Read the interesting recent contributions of Julie Pelton and Christopher Uggen and submit your own thoughts
  • President Michèle Lamont will be traveling to regional association meetings to talk about sociology in the Trump era, building on her op-ed Trump’s Triumph and Social Science Adrift...What Is to be Done? (www.asanet.org/trumps-triumph-and-social-science-adrift-what-be-done).
  • In early December, Council member Tanya Golash-Boza moderated Twitter chats, #InclusiveASA, during which members were asked to share ideas for how to have a more inclusive ASA and how ASA can foster more inclusion in departmental life and in academia more generally. Many thoughtful topics were discussed, and the full range of ideas will be considered at the next Council meeting.
  • We recognize that the new political landscape will likely continue to have an impact on the professional lives of sociologists. Further, we recognize that sociology can play an important role in improving social conditions and in providing citizens means for making sense of current developments. As such, at its next meeting ASA Council will be discussing strategies for addressing this new context in both the short and long terms. Our sense is that we need to prepare for a marathon, not a sprint.

The elected representatives and staff of our organization put the highest priority on defending and promoting the interests of sociology and sociologists at this critical juncture for our country and our discipline. Thinking of the future, we will need to calibrate each of our responses to the threats ahead. We invite the support of the membership in keeping us abreast of the needs of teachers, scholars, and practitioners and of the way in which the ASA can help navigate what is ahead.