Sociology Professor Susan Ferguson Receives National Award

October 11, 2018

Susan J. Ferguson, professor and chair of sociology, recently accepted a national honor from the American Sociological Association for her distinguished contributions to undergraduate sociology.

She received the 2018 Hans O. Mauksch Award at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA) in Philadelphia for her contributions to the teaching and learning of sociology through program development, student advising, and assessment of curriculum and teaching materials.

She also was commended for her leadership on committees concerned with undergraduate education, and the 40 papers and workshops on teaching she has presented at professional conferences and for her many publications helping to enhance undergraduate education in sociology. In August 2019, Ferguson will give the Mauksch Lecture at the annual meeting of the ASA in New York City.

“I am very honored to receive this national award and to be recognized by my peers and mentors in the teaching and learning community within sociology,” Ferguson says. “Since graduate school, teaching has always been my primary emphasis. One of the main reasons I cam`e to Grinnell College is that teaching is the first priority of faculty here.”

The Awards Committee says Ferguson’s “various contributions to teaching are overwhelming,” citing her co-development of the Sociological Literacy Framework, co-development of the Curriculum Mapping Tool for Sociology, and her participation in the Social Science Research Council’s Measuring College Learning Project.

The committee also notes that she co-chaired the ASA Task Force on Liberal Learning and the Sociology Major. In addition, Ferguson is a member of the ASA Department Resources Group that provides external reviews and consulting for sociology departments across the country, helping them strengthen their programs. She also conducts training sessions for the Department Resources Group itself.

“All of these achievements,” the Awards Committee concludes, “make Susan Ferguson a leader in our discipline.” 

“Professor Ferguson has become a national leader in sociology education, and she has helped the field define and assess its goals in new and innovative ways,” says Michael Latham, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. “We are very fortunate to have her on our faculty. She has played a vital role in making sociology speak to our population of curious and highly diverse students, and in the process, she has helped to raise the quality of teaching across the College.”

Numerous improvements in the teaching and learning of sociology at the undergraduate level stem from Ferguson’s research, publications, and workshops.

  • Faculty members use Ferguson’s anthologies to teach their students to view social phenomena through an intersectional lens that enables them to look simultaneously at the impact of various social factors such as race, ethnicity, social class, gender, and sexuality.
  • Professors apply the Sociological Literacy Framework to help them develop learning outcomes for their classes and determine how they will measure and assess whether their students are attaining those outcomes. Sociology programs also use the Sociological Literacy Framework to assess their major.
  • Faculty members use Ferguson’s anthologies to teach their students to view social phenomena through an intersectional lens that enables them to look simultaneously at the impact of various social factors such as race, ethnicity, social class, gender, and sexuality.
  • Professors apply the Sociological Literacy Framework to help them develop learning outcomes for their classes and determine how they will measure and assess whether their students are attaining those outcomes. Sociology programs also use the Sociological Literacy Framework to assess their major.
  • Faculty members who have attended Ferguson’s teaching workshops are encouraged to better connect with students and improve their learning outcomes. They can accomplish these goals by revealing to students their positionality, based on their own multiple identities, such as race, social class, gender, and where they come from. Ferguson encourages teachers to narrate their selves more in classroom.