A new interdisciplinary collaboration spanning three UF departments and research groups has been formed thanks to the UF Informatics Institute (UFII) COVID-19 Response Seed Funding initiative. The project, titled “The emergence of Covid-19 team science: tracking topics, networks and expertise in global Covid-19 research” and based in the Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law and in the Department of Linguistics, was awarded a UFII seed grant. Led by PI Raffaele Vacca, Assistant Professor of Sociology, and co-PI Kevin Tang, Assistant Professor of Computational Language Science, the project brings together expertise from network science (UF BEBR/CTSI Network Science Lab), computational linguistics (UF Speech Lexicon and Modeling Lab), and One Health research (UF One Health Center of Excellence).

The Covid-19 pandemic is having a transformative impact on science, accelerating the convergence of a highly interdisciplinary and dynamic “team science” field of coronavirus/Covid-19 research. This project will analyze a unique combination of big bibliographic data to track evolving topics, growing networks, and hidden expertise in global and local Covid-19 research. The project will use CORD-19, a growing dataset of over 63,000 coronavirus/Covid-19 scientific articles, and Dimensions, a global database of approximately 100 million publications, grants, and patents with detailed author information. It will draw on theories and methods from computational social science, natural language processing, and network science to examine the growth and diversification of topics and networks in global Covid-19 research, their temporal and geographic distribution, and the emergence of scientific consensus on specific Covid-19 topics.

The BEBR/CTSI Network Science Lab, co-led by Christopher McCarty and Raffaele Vacca, is a team of UF faculty, postdocs and graduate and undergraduate assistants who conduct research on science and scientific collaboration, social networks, and individual and population health outcomes. The Lab is supported in part by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (Network Science Module of the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute) and the UF Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

The Speech, Lexicon and Modeling Lab (SLaM), directed by Kevin Tang, is a team of UF faculty, graduate and undergraduate assistants who advance applied and theoretical linguistic research involving spoken speech and grammar (phonetics and phonology) and word knowledge (lexicon) with experimental and computational methods.

The One Health Center of Excellence, led by Ilaria Capua, is a joint effort of UF IFAS and UF Health with the mission of co-advancing the health of humans, animals, plants and the environment with innovative scientific approaches, including big data research and strong interdisciplinary synergies. The Center has recently launched the E-ellow Submarine Interdisciplinary Convergence Initiative, a multicentric task force of scientists who analyze data generated during the Covid-19 pandemic through a Circular Health approach.

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.

Our faculty collectively developed a list of department courses and resources, including readings and data sources, to allow ourselves, our students, and others to learn more. Below we link the full list of resources and related courses for Fall 2020.

List of resources

Download pdf

Fall 2020 Courses

Race-Focused Courses

SYD3700 Minorities in American Society
SYD4800 Sociology of Gender
SYA4930 International Migration

Inequalities-Focused Courses (with substantial attention to race and other inequality systems)

SYO4530 Social Inequalities
CCJ4934 Death Penalty
SYA4930 Sociology of Sexualities
CCJ4934 Media and Crime
SYA4930/CCJ4934 Violence Across the Life Course
CJL4410 Criminal Procedures
SYG2430 Marriage and Family
SYP4520 Criminology

Social Justice and Social Change Courses

SYA4930/CCJ4934 Social Movements
CJL3038 Law and Society
CCJ4934 Terrorism
SYA4930 Israeli Society
SYA4930 Climate Change and Society

Dear Sociology Majors,

Several of you have sent email about the events our country has been experiencing in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd and about your own personal stories of pain and injustice. I too have found these last days and weeks to be horribly disturbing. I write to share some personal thoughts and, together with my faculty colleagues, raise our voice against racism, discrimination and social injustice of all kinds. We pledge our commitment to helping you navigate these difficult times together.

Those of us who “find” sociology during our undergraduate years can usually remember the moment when it seemed like a curtain had been pulled back to reveal explanations for many aspects of our personal and public lives that we thought we knew so much about, but actually didn’t. Or to offer information that helped us understand things that we knew didn’t quite make sense, but also didn’t know exactly why. Or to provide us with data documenting an inequity, debunk a falsehood, or challenge an injustice that we knew to be wrong, but didn’t have the evidence to dispel. At the same time that sociology offers us these insights, it also comes with a burden of realizing how intractable these inequalities and injustices are, of wanting to do something to stop them, but feeling inadequate to actually make a difference. I too often feel that sadness, anger, and frustration. But as much as the events of these last several weeks enrage and discourage, I believe they also offer hope that oppressed voices are being heard and a renewed belief in our ability to make a difference. Whether by explicitly acknowledging the existence and consequences of systemic discrimination; or by listening—truly listening—to the personal and painful experiences of inequity endured by our friends, fellow students, and citizens; or by joining the protests that are taking place across our country; or by voting in our elections in November, we can be heard and we can make a difference.

In the spirit of encouraging you to learn more, listen more, and share more, I offer here links to resources provided by the American Sociological Association: its recent statement about systemic racism and its list of experts and relevant research. I hope you will find these useful in thinking more about issues related to social injustice. As you know, these issues cut across all institutions of our society, affecting not only policing and the criminal justice system, but also health care, the environment, gender identity, families, education, housing, employment, and more. As for myself and my colleagues, we renew our commitment to share our knowledge and our own experiences of injustice with you, and to listen to your personal stories, perspectives, and insights with regard to injustices of all kinds. We are committed to helping each of you manage the pain, stress, and obstacles brought by the multiple and inter-related events of this spring and summer. And we continue our commitment, as teachers, researchers, and individuals, to work against the systemic injustices that pervade our institutions and cause pain, suffering, and indignity, long-present but especially revealed by the deaths, illness, brutality, and violence that we have been witnessing and experiencing over the last several months.

As we all navigate these difficult times, please remember the network of individuals throughout UF who are also committed to helping students work through these difficult times and maintain their health and well-being. Keep in mind the counselors at UF’s Wellness Center, available at 352-392-1575 or through their website. Please also remember that each of you is a resource. Care and be present as best you can for your fellow students, especially students of color. If you see someone struggling, remember, you can always contact UMatter, We Care to try and connect them with resources here at UF. They are a wonderful resource and have helped many of our students with stressful circumstances. To help someone or seek help, all you need to do is email umatter@ufl.edu.

I hope that your experiences as a sociology major continue to provide insight into understanding the issues our society struggles to overcome, including the causes and consequences of systemic racism and the pain that injustice and discrimination cause. I hope that the material we discuss in our courses and our conversations with one another may help us think about and find solutions to these enduring problems in our society. More than anything, I hope that our interactions encourage us to recognize one another’s humanity, to listen to the stories of those who have been hurt by injustice, and to think about how each of us might contribute to a better society, whether that means here at UF, in our local communities, or in our country at large.

Please feel free to share any of your thoughts and feelings about the events of these last few weeks. My colleagues and I are here to listen and to offer any help that we can.

Be safe and be well.
Professor Borg

Dear Criminology Majors,

It is with heavy hearts that we, as your faculty, reach out to you today. The killing of George Floyd (and others before him) and the culmination in riots across the country is an especially important topic for those of us who are interested in and study crime and criminal justice. As criminology and criminal justice scholars, we have discussed and learned about the systematic oppression of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Many of us, whether faculty or students, have entered this field because we want to make a difference and improve the world and increase just outcomes for all citizens, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or other social characteristic.

You, our students, come from varied backgrounds. Some of you work in or want to work in law enforcement or have family members who do, some have experienced mistreatment from law enforcement, some have experienced both sides, some have experienced victimization or witnessed others victimized. Others may have learned primarily from classes or books.

Whatever your background, you may be experiencing stress, fear, anger, frustration, sorrow, helplessness, or other difficult emotions in these hard and uncertain times. We understand. We, too, are feeling many of these emotions as we watch events unfold. We assure you that we will continue in our roles as researchers and teachers to tackle these issues to the best of our abilities. We also pledge to find help when we see you need us to do so. We are listening, and we care. You can reach out to us.

If you need help, we encourage you to take advantage of UF’s counseling and wellness center. They are there to help navigate the types of emotions you may be feeling. Their number is 352-392-1575, and their website is counseling.ufl.edu.

We also encourage you to watch out for your fellow students, especially your fellow students of color. If you see someone struggling, remember, you can always contact UMatter, We Care to try and connect them with resources here at UF. They are a fantastic resource and have helped many of our students with stressful circumstances. To help someone or seek help, all you need to do is email umatter@ufl.edu.

To all of our students – we hope you will join us in our quest to make a difference, improve the world, and increase just outcomes for all citizens. To our students of color – we are listening. To students who desire to be allies and to learn more about privilege and oppression – consider taking this training offered by UF’s Counseling Center: counseling.ufl.edu/resources/bam.

Please feel free to reach out to any of these resources or to any of us if we can help you navigate these difficult times.

Professor Lane

Congratulations to Pilar Morales for receiving the O. Ruth McQuown Scholarship Award! Established by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in memory of O. Ruth McQuown, this competitive award recognizes graduate students who demonstrate a commitment to break down barriers, create a welcoming environment, and foster inclusion and diversity in academic achievements, contributing to their university, local or larger community. Pilar is a PhD candidate in sociology who conducts research on depopulation, climate change and sense of place in rural Spain.

Congratulations to Roberto Ferrer, a UF criminology major, for being accepted into the UF Bob Graham Center’s Reubin Askew Scholars Program! Qualifications for this program include aspiring to be a “change agent” in governmental/non-profit organizations or educational institutions serving the public, identifying problems that need to be solved in the public sphere, having actively participated in community-oriented or career-related organizations, demonstrating leadership potential, and having a strong academic record. This program will support Roberto’s research on examining the cultural dimensions of the relationship between humans and the environment as they pertain to environmental crimes among Latin Americans living in Florida.

Kids Who Tri is the latest book by UF sociologist William Marsiglio. Written for a general audience, the book has been endorsed by numerous national leaders in youth sports and triathlon including four Olympians and the CEO of USA Triathlon. As a social scientist, parent, and sports enthusiast, Marsiglio champions the virtues of an emerging sport, a slice of American sports culture—youth triathlon. Kids Who Tri systematically explores the links between youth triathlon, models of youth sports, and childrearing/coaching philosophies, while offering readers an insider’s view of the dynamic youth triathlon community. Drawing on interviews with parents, coaches, race directors, USA Triathlon staff, and young triathletes, as well as more than six years of intensive personal observations as “a tri-dad,” Marsiglio shows how embracing the multisport spirit teaches youth seven key life lessons while empowering them. He also reveals how youth triathlon has the potential to transform features of the American youth sports culture. This thought provoking book challenges leaders in youth sports and fitness, education, and community development to join forces to make youth triathlon a mainstream sport in our schools and communities. A sample of the book and the book endorsements can be accessed here.

David Cañarte and Thomas Smith, two PhD candidates in the UF Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law, recently received funding from two interdisciplinary research institutes at UF to complete their PhD research.

A sociology PhD candidate, David Cañarte received a Leonardo Fellowship from the UF One Health Center of Excellence. The award will support David’s project to systematically review and meta-analyze scientific literature and existing data sources on international migration as a social determinant of health in cross-national perspective. David, who will work with the supervision of Dr. Raffaele Vacca, will be part of an interdisciplinary network of collaborators in migration studies and health sciences between the University of Florida and the CERGAS Institute at Bocconi University in Italy.

Thomas B. Smith, a PhD candidate in criminology, received a UF Informatics Institute Graduate Fellowship. The fellowship will support his dissertation research, under Dr. Chris Gibson’s supervision, to establish a foundation for a biosocial theory of social support, genetics, and crime. Thomas, in collaboration with Dr. Raffaele Vacca, was also awarded a research grant from the UF One Health Center of Excellence to map scientific networks around UF one health research and to develop computational methods for evaluating the alignment of UF research with the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.

Professor Jodi Lane has been awarded the 2019 Distinguished Scholar Award by the American Society of Criminology’s (ASC) Division on Corrections and Sentencing.

The award “recognizes a lasting scholarly career, with particular emphasis on a ground-breaking contribution (e.g., book or series of articles) in the past 5 years” as well as service to the Division.  She received this honor at the annual ASC conference in San Francisco in November.