Grinnell College Professor Susan Ferguson receives national award

Heather Swan

Grinnell College Professor Susan Ferguson receives national award

The award recognizes her contributions to the teaching and learning of sociology

GRINNELL, Iowa — Susan J. Ferguson, professor and chair of sociology at Grinnell College, recently received the American Sociological Association’s 2018 Hans O. Mauksch Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Sociology.

Ferguson was recognized 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, as well asfor 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. Next August, 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 said. “Since graduate school, teaching has always been my primary emphasis. One of the main reasons I came to Grinnell College is that teaching is the first priority of faculty here.”

The Awards Committee said 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. She also served as co-chair of 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 has conducted training sessions for the Department Resources Group itself.

“All of these achievements,” the Awards Committee concluded, “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,” said Michael Latham, Grinnell College 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.”

Among the improvements in the teaching and learning of sociology at the undergraduate level that stem from Ferguson’s research, publications and workshops are:

  • 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 use 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 challenged to be more aware of how revealing their positionality, based on their own multiple identities, such as their race, social class, gender and where they come from, through their teaching can help them better connect with students and improve learning outcomes. Ferguson encourages teachers to narrate their selves more in classroom.