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Sociology and Criminology & Law

June 13, 2020 — Raffaele Vacca

Race and racism: message from the Department Chair

The Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law has been deeply engaged in difficult conversations about race and racism, and we know that we have many more conversations ahead of us. The faculty are committed to personal reflections, review of curricula, and actions to make substantive and sustained contributions to understanding and addressing racism. We hope you find our resources and materials useful.

Undergraduate students in our two degree programs are among the most diverse in the college. We believe this is partly due the relevance of our subject matter to our majors and their intended careers. Our undergraduate coordinators reached out to our majors and their statements are available on this website. We can do better. Faculty in each program will talk with our majors to learn more clearly about their experiences in college and their major, and to identify their preferred career paths, in order to assess our curricular, co-curricular, and experiential learning opportunities.

Faculty recognize that the subject matter of our two sets of disciplinary programs speaks directly to racism, racial disparities and racial disproportionalities in justice and well-being. Many of our courses provide student engagement in racial issues, teach communication skills for difficult conversations, and encourage self-reflection about race, justice, and individual responsibility in a society with systems of oppression. We are providing on this website a list of Fall 2020 courses that are directly or indirectly relevant to Black disparities in the U.S. We can do better. Faculty in each program are in the process of reviewing its curriculum to identify opportunities to demonstrate our values and commitments to addressing racism.

Over the past few years, we have been effective in hiring under the Faculty 500 initiative, especially in Black and Latinx faculty. That was intentional. It is important that all students, but especially students of color, see a diverse faculty whose research and teaching agenda reflect a range of social phenomena. We know we need to turn our attention to actualizing an environment in which they may be successful.

Similarly, we have been effective in recruiting diverse cohorts of graduate students, especially Black and Latinx students. Just as important, our two degree programs mentor Black and Latinx students through to degree completion and placement in academic and nonacademic positions. We can do better. Faculty have begun the process of reviewing the curricula of both graduate programs, and will assess opportunities to improve upon recruitment, retention, and placement of diverse graduate student bodies.

Both the discipline of Sociology and the discipline of Criminology are focused on equity, justice, and well-being, and are actively engaged in research to promote justice and combat racism and other inequalities. Our professional associations make our disciplinary values clear in the statements and resources provided on this website, which include data and reports on race in the U.S. The public availability of race-based data, and training in analytic tools and techniques, are a powerful opportunity for people to conduct their own assessments. Finally, the research and teaching agenda of many of our faculty focus on or include attention to disparities in justice and well-being. Faculty collectively developed a set of resources to allow ourselves, our students, and others to learn more. We provide a link to the full list of faculty recommendations on this website.