American Sociological Association

Kathleen Lowney

Kathleen S. Lowney

Kathleen S. Lowney, Professor of Sociology at Valdosta State University in Georgia is the 2014 recipient of the ASA Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award. Lowney earned her bachelors with a double major in sociology and comparative religion at the University of Washington, a master’s in religion and society, and her PhD in religion and society at Drew University (New Jersey).
At Valdosta State University since 1987, Lowney is praised for her dedication to teaching and developing innovative teaching materials for the classroom. In 2011, she received Valdosta State’s Excellence in Teaching Award and the College of Arts and Sciences Teaching Award. Most recently, she has been appointed as Fellow-in-Residence at Valdosta State’s IDEA Center (Innovative Designs for Enhancing the Academy). The teaching materials she has developed embrace the low tech to the high tech: producing and developing educational videos, online learning, use of clickers in the classroom, community-based learning, a sociology blog, and a flash mob exercise used in introduction to sociology. Her development and production of videos used in the classroom—Rule of Thumb, focusing on domestic violence, and Packaged to Perfection, a focus on cultural and economic messages regarding women’s presentation of self—have drawn praise for their real-life applications and their approach to sensitive social issues.

Lowney’s publications span a wide range and a host of topics. Her two books, Baring Our Souls: TV Talk Shows and the Religion of Recovery (1989) and Passport to Heaven: Gender Roles in the Unification Church (1992) focus on the interplay between religion, media, and gender in society. She has an impressive volume of scholarly contributions that concentrate in teaching of social problems, the family, theory, gender, urban sociology, and in the area of teaching pedagogy (assessment and online collaborative teaching). Her nominators praise her superior and high-caliber teaching—and it is only one aspect of Lowney’s expertise. She has an uncompromising sense of the teaching mission, inspiring others to grow in respect to developing teaching identities and in providing mentorship for her colleagues.

Lowney has extensive contributions to the discipline in her professional activity and leadership in the Society for the Study of Social Problems, the Mid-South Sociological Association, and the ASA’s Section on Teaching and Learning, and as former member of the ASA Distinguished Teaching Award Committee. She has served in a variety of leadership positions both elected and appointed. She has served on the editorial boards of Sociological Perspectives, Sociological Spectrum, and Teaching Sociology. In her current tenure as Editor of Teaching Sociology (2010-2014) she is described as having a clear vision and collaborative leadership style in her management of the journal. She has developed increased efficiencies within the journal while increasing the quality of the publication. Her nominators praise her for her timely, insightful, and thoughtful responses to authors.

Her nominator, Stephen Sweet, noted the many ways that she has contributed to teaching and learning in the academy. He wrote, “Kathleen’s record demonstrates a sustained commitment to the advancement of the scholarship of teaching, through the development and dissemination of teaching strategies and resources, and advocacy for the recognition of the importance of teaching within the professional community of sociologists.” Her work is best summed up by Nancy Bern who wrote, “Kathleen Lowney is a generous person with a passion for teaching.” We are pleased that this award is given to Kathleen Lowney who best exemplifies the model teacher-scholar—one who has a love for teaching, dedication and commitment to the discipline, and amazing positive energy.