American Sociological Association

Should We Talk about the Pain? Personalizing Sociology in the Medical Sociology Classroom

This article discusses the potential of personalizing sociology curriculum, specifically in Medical Sociology courses, to increase student engagement and sociological awareness. Based on our experiences offering separate Medical Sociology courses at a large public research university and a small private teaching university, respectively, we outline emotional techniques we have each employed—separately and together—in our classes to facilitate student engagement, critical awareness, and medical coming out processes in our classrooms. In so doing, we have both built highly successful and popular Medical Sociology courses where students learn about and engage with the interpersonal and emotional effects of health care systems, structures, and patterned disparities. Throughout this article, we use our experiences as a case for facilitating debate concerning the incorporation of personal and emotional biography into sociological teaching and provide questions that may facilitate such conversation. In closing, we encourage sociologists to reflect upon, consider, and debate the usefulness of incorporating personal and emotional biographies into the curriculum.


Nowakowski, A. C. H., Sumerau, J. E.





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