My life over the last two years has focused on teaching, service on the Executive Council, and volunteer involvement on the board of directors of Mid-Iowa Community Action. I have lived what we often discuss in my seminar on nonprofit organizations: how work in nonprofit settings drains our time and emotional energy, even as it energizes us.
The Executive Council at Grinnell College, for those who don’t know or have forgotten, is the elected body of faculty who advise the President on policy issues and faculty hiring. My two years as Social Studies Division chair have been interesting but tiring. In a similar way, my work as chair of the board of MICA has been rewarding, since we are doing good work with low-income families; but also challenging and emotionally draining, since we have been figuring out how to split off part of the organization so that each part can do its work more effectively. Both experiences, though, do provide lots of immediate examples for class discussion!
Still, I am looking forward to the end of the spring semester, when my term on the Council and my time as chair of MICA end. Judy and I then look forward to going to London in the fall, where I will be teaching in Grinnell-In-London and Judy will be on leave.
Kent McClelland is co-editor, with well-known theorist Thomas J. Fararo, of a new book called Purpose, Meaning, and Action: Control Systems Theories in Sociology (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2006). The book brings together twelve previously unpublished articles written by sociological researchers whose research programs build on a number of recently developed sociological theories, all with strong conceptual links: Perception Control Theory, Affect Control Theory, Identity Control Theory, and Generative Structuralism.
Contributors to the book include noted sociologists David Heise, Lynn Smith-Lovin, Neil MacKinnon, Peter Burke, Jan Stets, Clark McPhail, and John Skvoretz, along with several of their students and collaborators, as well as Fararo and McClelland—a virtual who’s who of sociologists who have helped to establish this newly emerging subfield of sociological theory.
McClelland’s contributions to this volume include an introductory overview of control systems thinking in sociology, written with Fararo, and a chapter on “Understanding Collective Control Processes,” which further develops the perspectives introduced in his earlier theoretical articles and applies the theory to two empirical cases, a communal conflict between Muslims and Hindu farmers in Bangladesh and observations of French families interacting in a fun-house hall of mirrors.
Another year has sped quickly by. Gillian began kindergarten. Alana turned three years old, and I am wanting time to slow down so I can savor their early childhood even more.
My work has been rich and fulfilling with several book projects, teaching workshops, and more consulting work. This past year, I completed the American Sociological Associations's Departmental Resource Group's training, which enables me to do external reviews of Sociology Departments around the country. Being an external reviewer is a privilege, but I also find the task compelling. I learn so much from observing different sociology programs. I also enjoy leading teaching workshops for other sociology faculty at our professional meetings. The most recent was a Teaching Workshop for High School Sociology Teachers at the Midwest Sociological Society meetings in Chicago.
In November, the first book in a series I am editing on Families in the 21st Century was published. Karen Seccombe (Portland State University) wrote Families in Poverty (Allyn and Bacon, 2007). Later this year, the second book, Global Families by Meg Wilkes Karraker (University of St. Thomas) will be published. The fifth edition of Mapping the Social Landscape: Readings in Sociology (McGraw Hill, 2008) came out in March.
The highlight of this past year was returning to my alma mater of Colorado State University, where they were celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Women's Studies Program. As an early alumna of that program, I received the first Karen J. Wedge Award for "outstanding contributions as a Women's Studies alumna who combines academic and activist feminism as a vehicle of social change." I am honored.