Department News and Events03 Jul 2013 02:54 pm


Renowned social critic and author of the highly influential book The Pursuit of Loneliness, Philip Slater, has died at age 86. Harvard educated, Philip was the Chair of Brandeis’ Department of Sociology in the 60s, before leaving Brandeis in pursuit of personal, academic, and occupational interests. After leaving Brandeis, Philip joined forces with Morrie Schwartz (of Tuesdays With Morrie) to create a personal growth center in Cambridge called Greenhouse. Prof. Gordie Fellman remembers working with Philip in the 60s: “Amazingly alive, relaxed, vital guy. We used to have fantastic discussions of films. The Pursuit of Loneliness was a dazzling book. Really lovely guy.” Philip spent his last years teaching in Santa Cruz, beside the beach which he loved so much. In a Harvard Magazine interview a few years ago, Philip reflected on his life, saying, “It’s been a very satisfying life, in nearly every way.”

Students07 May 2013 05:30 pm

Brandeis University Sociology Alum and Washington and Lee University third-year law student Sam Petsonk has been awarded a prestigious fellowship from the Skadden Foundation. These highly-coveted, post-graduate fellowships provide funds to law students who want to devote their professional life to providing legal services to the poor (including the working poor), the elderly, the homeless and the disabled, as well as those deprived of their civil or human rights.

The Skadden Fellowship Program, often described as a “legal Peace Corps,” provides fellows with a salary and benefits consistent with the public interest organization sponsoring the law student’s fellowship application. In Petsonk’s case, this organization is Mountain State Justice, a non-profit, public interest law firm based in Charleston, WV.

For more information, click here!


Department News and Events and Professors30 Apr 2013 02:57 pm

Professor David Cunningham, Professor Wendy Cadge, and Anne Pollock BA ’98 and PhD from MIT ’07 are featured in the Spring 2013 “On the Bookshelf” section of the Brandeis Magazine.

Klansville, USA: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan


By David Cunningham
Oxford University Press, $29.95

Of all the U.S. states back in 1966, North Carolina was by far the most virulent hotbed of Ku Klux Klan activity: 52.2 percent of the most prominent Klan group’s membership lived in the Tar Heel State (Georgia had the next-highest share — a relatively scant 9.7 percent). Cunningham, associate professor of sociology, unravels why the Klan gained such purchase in North Carolina during the civil rights era, what this reveals about the Klan’s extremist methods and how those methods were finally overcome.

Paging God: Religion in the Halls of Medicine


By Wendy Cadge
University of Chicago Press, $25

Should spiritual practices and prayer play a recognized role in hospitals, one that affects decisions related to space allocation, policies and staffing? If so, how do hospitals accommodate the ever-broadening spiritual diversity in the U.S.? Cadge, associate professor of sociology, explores religion’s place in American health care — what it is, and what it could be — in this thoughtful, engrossing book.

Medicating Race: Heart Disease and Durable Preoccupations With Difference


By Anne Pollock ’98
Duke University Press, $23.95

A clinical study recommends that an inexpensive antihypertensive be the first drug prescribed for black patients with elevated blood pressure. Is this racism? Or do black people actually have a genetic difference that makes them more responsive to the cheaper drug? Pollock, an assistant professor of science, technology and culture at Georgia Tech, probes the ways that racial bias interacts with experts’ imperfect understanding of human biochemistry and medical technology to complicate the treatment of heart disease.

Check out the magazine online:

Students17 Apr 2013 06:38 pm

When I chose to study abroad in Montpellier, France, I did not anticipate a particularly culturally challenging experience. It really never occurred to me that I might notice a distinct difference from my experiences in the US; “culture shock” was a phrase reserved for my friends off to places I considered significantly less westernized. To a certain extent, I am sure that this is true. However, I have been continuously surprised by my observations here: I am reminded everyday that I am not at home in the US, that I do not exist within a culture that is familiar to me right now. The smallest observations provoke this awareness: the dress of small children I see on my walks through the medieval city center and the consistent approaches from “strangers” on the streets.

I arrived in the mild winter of Southern France to immediately notice little little girls in under-the-knee leather boots, sometimes wobbling along behind their parents or settled safely into strollers. This somewhat silly observation struck me as unique to my new home. These little girls really seemed more like shrunken adults than children as they mimicked their mothers in just about every aspect of self-presentation; boots, scarves, mini-leather jackets. It occurred to me that maybe the concept of “big girl” shoes doesn’t quite exist in the same way here as those tiny shoes were really no different than my own! I always looked forward to articles of clothing that would somehow display my developing maturity and I knew I had arrived when I traded in my sketchers or my sparkly decal covered snow boots (clearly belonging to a child) for a pair of black leather boots.

Exploring the narrow, winding roads, I was also jarred by the manner in which strangers seemed to interact. I am frequently approached without hesitation; whether it is someone asking me for a lighter or the time of day. Even in line to check out at the supermarket, I’ve been asked twice for an extra 5 or 20 centimes. I realized immediately that I am not accustomed to this sort of confrontation; when someone approaches me on the street (or even in a closed environment such as the supermarket) I am immediately skeptical of what they could possibly be requesting. If I anticipate being short on my groceries, I’m more likely to leave an item behind than to risk confrontation with a stranger who may or may not be feeling friendly. From a greater perspective, though, I realized that these interactions make for a wonderful dynamic between people. I feel as though I am incorporated into a fabric of society that shares a greater understanding of individuals living complicated daily lives. If the woman in line ahead of me is short twenty centimes on her evening groceries, why wouldn’t I gladly help her out? If I mustered up the courage to ask, I’d certainly want someone to do the same for me. And despite being late for class, why wouldn’t I pause to lend out my lighter? It’s possible that I am overlooking this sense of community in the US, and perhaps being here in France has just attuned me to it. Regardless, I look forward to re-experiencing my home with this new awareness.

Professors17 Apr 2013 06:19 pm

Assistant Professor Sara Shostak, as reported in this week’s Justice, “was awarded the Michael L. Walzer ’56 Award for Teaching.” In an email to the Justice Prof. Shostak wrote, “I was absolutely thrilled to receive the Michael L. Walzer ’56 Award for Teaching. I love teaching at Brandeis. I am inspired by the students in my classes, and those with whom I’ve worked on independent research projects. So, receiving an award based on student nominations is deeply meaningful to me.”

It is so nice to see someone awarded for something that they feel passionately about. Congratulations to Professor Shostak for her achievements and excellence in and outside of the classroom.

Department News and Events26 Feb 2013 08:02 pm

When I arrived in Denmark I was bussed from cosmopolitan Copenhagen to the town of Hillerød. I live in Grundtvigs Højskole—a folk high school. A folk high school is a mix between school and a summer camp: students aged 17-27 take classes but with no grades, assessments, or degrees at the end. The idea is to incorporate learning into one’s lifestyle. Additionally, there is a somewhat communal living style—everyone has kitchen duty to prep for 6pm meal time and most of the højskole consists of common spaces to encourage a feeling of “hygge,” which loosely means the Danish idea of cozy togetherness. I live with 10 other Americans and 99 Danes, but go to classes with only Americans. I was nervous at first because Danes have a reputation of being rather insular or cold. While they were difficult to get to know at first, most are extremely friendly and happy to talk to the Americans.

Academically, my semester has been less of an adjustment: DIS is a study center study abroad program which means that classes are taught by professors within the program with other Americans rather than at a Danish university. Every program involves study tours; the Sociology program went to Sweden and later in the program I will go to Turkey with my class! I came to Denmark largely because Scandinavian countries have a reputation for being open about sexuality—my area of interest. While this is true to an extent, many Danes believe they have gender equality and thus no reason to study the topic academically. I am curious to see if this proves true. While my abroad experience is likely very different from most others, I feel like I am experiencing life as young Danes do, gaining new perspectives along the way.

Students26 Feb 2013 07:39 pm

Greetings from the Emerald Isle!  I’ve been studying here for just over a month and have been having an incredible time learning about the culture and history of this beautiful country.  Despite the challenges that have come along with adjusting to my new surroundings, I already feel as if the experience of being abroad is turning me into a more confident and adventurous person.

During my program’s orientation, I stayed in a hostel located in the city centre of Dublin along with the other American students on the Arcadia University program.  Since my university’s campus is about a twenty-minute bus ride from the urban part of Dublin, it was great to have those few first days to explore the city before moving into my apartment on campus.  One of my favorite parts of orientation was learning about Gaelic football and hurling, two major Irish sports.  The Arcadia program took us to a sports complex, where the staff took us onto the sports field and taught us the basics of these incredibly difficult sports.  Although my lack of coordination put me at a disadvantage while participating in this part of orientation, I definitely enjoyed kicking off my abroad experience by doing something authentically Irish.

Another memorable part of my experience occurred this past weekend.  I went on a trip with the other students studying abroad through the Arcadia program to the town of Killlarney, located in the Irish county of Kerry.  I had the pleasure of seeing some incredibly beautiful scenary as we took a boat ride along the Lakes of Killarney and then took a horsecarriage ride through the nearby mountains.  Killarney has been one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever been to and I feel so lucky to have had the priviledge of visiting it.

Despite all the craic I’ve been having while studying abroad (craic is Irish slang for fun), I have definitely experienced the difficulties that come with adjusting to life in a new country.  I have had to get used to certain differences between Ireland and the United States.  For example, in Ireland, the street signs are located on the corners of the buildings instead of being positioned separately on rods at street corners.  Subtle differences such as this one made finding my way around the city a little difficult at first.  Also, the classes in Ireland are structured very differently than those in the United States.  Instead of consisting of continuous assessments, most Irish course grades are dependent upon one or two large assignments.  However, regardless of having to adjust to these differences, I am confident that I made the right decision by studying abroad and can’t wait to see what these next three months in Ireland have in store for me.


Learning the basics of Gaelic hurling with some other study abroad students!  I am on the far right.


Taking a boat ride along the Lakes of Killarney.  Again, I am on the far right.


Professors25 Feb 2013 06:53 pm

Paging God: Religion in the Halls of Medicine

Start: 4:00 pm
Book Launch
Wendy Cadge Paging God: Religion in the Halls of Medicine

“From the opening narrative about a Buddhist monk near death to the concluding story about a parent seeking prayer, Paging God is rich with insights about the challenges facing health practitioners as America becomes more religiously and ethnically diverse… Wendy Cadge has written an impressive study that should be read by everyone interested in understanding how religious diversity is reshaping our society.” ~ Robert Wuthnow, author of America and the Challenges of Diversity

Join us for a short presentation and gathering in celebration of the release of Wendy Cadge’s groundbreaking study about the role of religion in healthcare today.

Associate Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University, Cadge’s unprecedented work shifts attention from questions about what role religion should play a role in modern medicine, towards what role it already does.

RSVP at:

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2013 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Light refreshments will be served.
Parking is available in the municipal lot directly behind Back Pages Books, accessible from Crescent Street.
This event is free and open to all.


Students13 Feb 2013 08:41 pm

“Seville?  Why Seville?  Why not Madrid or Barcelona?”

I’ve heard that question more times than I can count in the past month from both Americans and Spaniards alike.  The answer, for me, is simple.  I wanted a smaller, quieter city.  Not as many American students, not as many tourists.  Something slower.  Now, after living in Seville for three weeks, I can say that I feel I’ve made the right decision.  Sevillian cultural norms such as sitting with friends at a café for an hour or two just to chat and waking up a little bit later have been sublime.  I’ve been able to do a lot of leisure reading and have enjoyed trying new cuisines, ranging from pastries to tortillas to strong European coffee.  And, of course, speaking the Spanish language has been a challenging but valuable immersive experience.  Such an unhurried lifestyle here is a nice break from American hurriedness.

That isn’t to say, however, that there haven’t been challenges in adjusting along the way.  Spain loves its ham, and I don’t eat meat, which has had to be clarified and re-clarified with my homestay mother.  I had to make a more concerted effort to find peers who shared my preference for quieter social gatherings because many students here enjoy clubbing and bar-hopping.  Traveling around Europe is not nearly as easy and inexpensive as everyone says it is.  And, of course, I do miss Brandeis.  But these challenges are a healthy part of study abroad: learning to adjust to an unfamiliar culture and taking responsibility for yourself in a way that has never been asked of you before.

Even with the challenges, I am very excited to be here.  The opportunity to live in a foreign city doesn’t come around frequently and, therefore, being able to really immerse myself into the culture of Seville is a privilege.  For me, this semester is not about trying to see as many sights as I can or tasting a new flavor of tapas every evening.  It’s about being a little bit European.  And my ethnography experience in Sociology is sure to help me learn the part.



Taken during a weekend retreat, on which we were only allowed to speak Spanish.  I heard maybe 5 minutes of English all weekend.  The location was in the countryside north of Seville.



Seville is very bicycle-friendly.  Most major streets have clearly designated bicycle lanes on the sidewalks.  Additionally, Seville has its own bicycle-sharing program with bicycle docks throughout the city.



There have recently been several labor protests in Spain.  This demonstration, right next to the University of Seville, is by garbagemen on strike.  As a result of their strike, garbage has been piling up around the city.

Students13 Feb 2013 08:18 pm

This morning I woke up to snow falling diagonally outside my window. By the time I went to class in the late morning it was raining lightly. In the afternoon when I left class, the sky was blue and the sun was shining. This is a typical day in Glasgow: so incredibly unpredictable. Being someone who is used to predictability I’ve come to appreciate the little things; like sun, a waitress without a thick Scottish accent and finding a familiar product in the grocery store. I’ve begun to recover from culture shock and actually feel like I’m a part of the culture. Already I feel like I’ve learned so much about Glasgow and Scottish culture in general, and I’ve only been here for 5 weeks.
I’m here on a program with 15 other Americans but I’m living in international student housing right near campus and taking classes with Scottish and international students alike. I mostly interact with students but so far Glaswegians I’ve met in general have been incredibly friendly. On my 1st day here I asked one woman on the street if she knew a nearby place where I could get a towel and upon not being able to think of such a store she apologized for not having brought a towel to give me. Could you imagine an American saying something like that? I was certainly pleasantly surprised.
Most of my time here has been spent exploring the city, going to museums and (occasionally) trying to get some work done. There’s so much at my disposal here: museums are free and I can absorb so much culture by just walking into a bar or walking around city center (or centre as they spell it). My favorite museum so far has been the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (picture above)- a combination of art, artifacts and history. It’s very sociological in its approach- constructing exhibits that look at societies through mediums of art and oral and written histories. My roommate and I have established Museum Monday- every Monday we choose a different (free) museum to visit. It’s been a great way to explore different parts of the city and culture.
I know that I have so much more to learn as I continue to explore Glasgow and in March and April, the rest of Europe. Pretty please send me some sun Brandeis! If you do, you’ll get a pretty postcard in return.

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