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Letter from the Chair

Celebrating Civic Engagement

Chris Uggen
Welcome to Facets, our Department of Sociology magazine. Like past issues, it is full of stories about exceptional faculty and students whose accomplishments we are proud to have fostered. In this issue, however, we’re emphasizing a real source of pride for our growing department: our commitment to a civic sociology.

As you’ll discover in the following pages, we are more driven than ever to conduct research that matters. You’ll see what I mean when you read about Professor Ann Meier, whose studies of the effects of sex on teenagers are making waves in the New York Times as well as top sociology journals. We’re also featuring Joel Samaha, a legendary teacher whose inspiring books and lectures have touched the lives of generations of Minnesota students. You’ll meet some amazing alumni in Deanna Peterson, Jeremy Staff, and Molly Watters, and read a tribute to Eric Markusen, a publicly engaged scholar who devoted his career to understanding the causes and prevention of genocide. And you’ll learn about big collaborative efforts such as the Minnesota Exits and Entries Project, which is bringing faculty and students together to study young people leaving prisons, foster care, military service, drug treatment, and mental health treatment. And those are just a few of the remarkable teams and individuals that make up our department.

This year has been especially exciting as Minnesota has become the home of the American Sociological Association’s Contexts magazine. We have also put together a careful self-study report and external review of the department. I’m delighted to report that all parties agree that Minnesota sociology is a department on the rise. We continue to earn sizable research grants, national and international awards, and a steady stream of publications in the very best academic journals and university presses.

In short, the department continues to grow quickly, and thanks to you, we’re able to share that growth with more and more qualified students. Our undergraduate program is flourishing. Aaron Marquette, for example, earned a prestigious Selmer Birkelo Scholarship and Mohamed Bakri received a Jack Kent Cooke scholarship. Many more students are conducting their own undergraduate research projects and taking advantage of community service learning opportunities. We have also awarded more than 125 Ph.D. and master’s degrees in the past decade, with our students garnering prestigious awards and job placements in great sociology departments throughout the world. Our students have benefited immensely from fellowships and collaborative research partnerships with faculty. As chair of “the engaged department," I hope you’ll enjoy Facets — and I welcome your engagement in Minnesota sociology.

Chris Uggen, Chair
uggen001@umn.edu