January 2015 Issue • Volume 43 • Issue 1

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High School Sociology Front and Center Once Again at NCSS

Nearly 80 teachers attend ASA high school sociology symposium in Boston; ASA high school planning program and advisory panel hard at work on draft standards document in 2015.

Jean H. Shin, Beth Floyd, and Margaret Weigers Vitullo, American Sociological Association

On November 21, 2014, in Boston, MA, ASA sponsored an all-day symposium for high school teachers of sociology at the 2014 National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Annual Conference. This was the fourth event of this kind that ASA has sponsored, starting in 2011. In 2013, after consultations with the ASA High School Planning Program Advisory Panel and also with Susan Griffin, NCSS Executive Director, and David Bailor, NCSS Meetings Director, about how to maximize outreach and impact, ASA decided on a new approach. While the previous two years’ high school conferences attempted to bring high school teachers to sociology, it was agreed that ASA would try bringing sociology to the high school teachers at the NCSS Annual Conference. The new approach was quite successful in 2013 and even more so in 2014.

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Sociology and Criminal Justice:
Few Differences in Learning and Career Outcomes

Mary S. Senter, Central Michigan University, and Roberta Spalter-Roth

Baccalaureates including sociology majors graduating in 2012 faced a difficult job market, and sociology departments along with other humanities and social science disciplines faced competition for majors from more vocational and professional degrees. Departments may respond by offering concentrations within the sociology major, with the most common being crime, law, and society. When sociology departments developed this new concentration, some chairs noted a decrease in sociology majors while criminal justice majors increase (Spalter-Roth, Van Vooren, and Kisielewski, 2013). Students may assume that the concentration will give them an employment advantage. 

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Teaching Sociology with Wikipedia

Eryk Salvaggio and Jami Mathewson, Wiki Education Foundation

Our two previous articles (September/October 2014, December 2014) examined the beneficial outcomes of ASA’s Wikipedia initiative, including improvement in student research, writing, critical thinking, collaborative efforts, and information literacy skills. And while Wikipedia has had a positive impact on these sociology students, they have also had a positive impact on Wikipedia. Students have expanded the breadth of sociology coverage and are closing that content gap. The initiative has also brought more women onto Wikipedia, and diversifying the editor base helps broaden the represented topics and perspectives.

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The Shifting Landscape: Critically Contextualizing Conversations About Campus Sexual Violence

Ashley C. Rondini, Franklin and Marshall College

In April of 2011, the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued a “Dear Colleague” letter focused on the responsibilities of educational institutions in addressing issues of sexual harassment and sexual violence within their respective communities. Importantly, the OCR engaged this subject within the context of civil rights protections prohibiting sex discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The letter contributed to a discursive shift—from publicly framing campus sexual assault as solely an issue of crime and safety to framing protection from sexual assault as an issue of civil rights. This evolution has broadened the mainstream lens through which campus sexual violence is viewed, with a push towards critical analyses of the institutional environments within which individual experiences of victimization occur. While it should be noted that feminist scholars and activists have critiqued the structural and cultural dynamics that normalize sexual violence for far longer than the federal government has been implementing these changes, the extent to which these visible, “official” federal efforts aimed at transforming institutional climates and cultures concerning gender and power merit our consideration.

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