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Message from the Chairperson

Professor Sarah Babb

Sarah Babb

More than ever, the world needs sociology. We face mounting challenges of heightened global conflict, economic inequality, a fracturing political discourse, and environmental degradation. We believe that as sociologists, we are ideally placed to understand. But we are committed to more than understanding; we believe in acting affirmatively on that knowledge, in becoming what American Sociological Association President Michael Burawoy has called "public sociologists." We collect data, we analyze, we debate, and we transform.

Boston College, I believe, is a unique place to study sociology. We have a distinguished faculty with a commitment to first-rate research, teaching, and service. Our curriculum includes not only in-depth training in the central traditions of sociology, but also a focus on "critical sociology" which puts us at the cutting edge of developments in sociology and related disciplines. Our faculty members write influential books and publish widely in major sociological journals. A significant number consider themselves to be public sociologists, whose work is influential beyond the academy. We support students who have similar ambitions.

And speaking of students, ours are wonderful. I'm a relative newcomer to Boston College, and the quality of the students was a major draw for me. Their intelligence, talent, and commitment are impressive. Whether studying social movements aimed at reducing inequality or analyzing reconfigurations of culture, sexuality, health care, crime, education, spirituality, or politics, our students engage in creative social research in their quest for social justice. As a department, we support originality in content and method, and we believe in a model of training that allows students to follow their passions. We aim to expand, not narrow, the terrain and methodologies of sociology for you to explore.

Our sociological sensibilities and programmatic themes fit well with Boston College's mission as a Jesuit university, committed to both academic excellence and the pursuit of social justice. Indeed, whether in formal classroom exchange or informal dialogue, this much is clear: Boston College's faculty and students are passionate about sociology and committed to grappling with the major social issues of our times.

Being situated in Boston—a major metropolitan area steeped in history and culture—is another advantage. The promises and troubles of Boston invite timely sociological inquiry. We benefit also from our university's participation in a consortium of Boston area schools. This enables our students to cross-register for courses at other leading institutions, diversifying course offerings, while facilitating exchange with other students in the Boston area.

Two additional aspects of our program also deserve mention. These include our Departmental Seminars, an ongoing forum for exposing our students and faculty to cutting-edge research and writing in the social sciences; and our Distinguished Visiting Scholars Series. The Distinguished Visiting Scholars Series brings a leading sociological scholar to the Boston College campus for a period of residency, providing a unique opportunity for members of the BC sociology department to dialogue and develop relations with a wide variety of important sociologists. In recent years these two scholarly events programs have brought to a wide variety of influential thinkers to our department including Avery Gordon, Loïc Wacquant, Saskia Sassen, Michael Hardt, David Harvey, Emily Martin, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Dorothy Roberts, Walden Bello, Giovanni Arrighi, Donatella della Porta, Nancy Naples, Francesca Polletta, Frances Fox Piven, Paul Gilroy, Aldon Morris, M. Jacqui Alexander, Patricia Hill Collins, Sandra Harding, Dorothy Smith, bell hooks, Mary Waters, Michael Burawoy, Tricia Rose, Alondra Nelson, and Prudence Carter to the BC campus.

If your view of yourself as a sociologist has affinities with ours, I encourage you to find out more about us by exploring our department's website.