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ASA President to Promote Sociology on
Tour of Minority Serving Colleges, Universities

WASHINGTON, DC, March 14, 2012 — In an effort to connect with students and faculty from underrepresented groups and to highlight both the importance of sociology and the opportunities available to those who study it, American Sociological Association (ASA) President Erik Olin Wright will begin a two and a half week tour of minority serving colleges and universities on Tuesday, March 20.

“The fact that there is a sociological component to everything is one of the things that makes sociology such a vital discipline,” said Wright, the Vilas Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Sociology intersects all disciplines that study humankind, including history, psychology, and economics and is integral to understanding and improving society. As part of our tour, we want to help students truly comprehend the benefits of a sociological education.”

Jean Shin, director of ASA’s Minority Affairs Program, will join Wright on the two part tour (March 20-26 and April 9-18), which includes stops at 11 schools—including nine minority serving institutions—around the south and southwest. At each campus, Wright will host a public forum where he will talk about the value of sociology and having a background in the discipline. He will also discuss “Real Utopias,” the theme of the August 2012 ASA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

“Many people are drawn to sociology because of moral concerns about harmful social conditions and injustices,” Wright said. “In that light, a great deal of sociological scholarship focuses on explaining the sources of social injustice and the causes and consequences of undesirable social conditions. However, much less research explores the design of alternatives to existing institutions that would help realize moral ideals of justice and human flourishing. The idea of ‘Real Utopias’ is meant to point sociology towards finding alternatives.”

In conjunction with each forum, Wright and Shin will hold a resource workshop for students, to discuss post college opportunities available to those who study sociology. “In addition to making contributions in academia as professors and researchers, students who study sociology often go on to become difference makers in a variety of other fields,” Shin said.

From First Lady Michelle Obama and former U.S. President Ronald Reagan to civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, of Maryland, the list of famous Americans who studied sociology is extensive. Others who studied sociology include former U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman in Congress; Kal Penn, an actor and a former associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement; former NAACP head Roy Wilkins; former basketball star Alonzo Mourning; former U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, of New York; civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson; actor Dan Aykroyd; Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize winning novelist Saul Bellow; and many others.

“We want students to understand that studying sociology opens up many doors,” Shin said. “We also want them to know that the American Sociological Association is available to assist them as they think about their futures.”

In addition to hosting forums and resource workshops, Wright and Shin will also meet with administrators at each school on the tour to emphasize the value and importance of having and maintaining robust sociology programs at their institutions. “We want to help ensure that sociology thrives at colleges and universities around the country and the world,” Wright said.

On the first leg of their tour, March 20-26, Wright and Shin will visit three Hispanic-Serving Institutions in Texas (the University of Texas-San Antonio on March 20, Texas A&M International University on March 21, and the University of Texas-Pan American on March 22) and one Tribal College in Arizona (Diné College on March 26). Their tour’s second leg, April 9-18, includes stops at Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Mississippi (Alcorn State University on April 9 and Jackson State University on April 10); Louisiana (Xavier University of Louisiana on April 11); Alabama (Tuskegee University on April 13); and Tennessee (Tennessee State University on April 17). As part of the second leg, Wright and Shin will also visit Tennessee’s Austin Peay State University on April 16 and Kentucky’s Berea College on April 18.

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About the American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association (www.asanet.org), founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.

For more information, contact Daniel Fowler, ASA’s Media Relations and Public Affairs Officer, at (202) 527-7885 or pubinfo@asanet.org.


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