Penn Sociology News

January 6, 2015

Jerry A. Jacobs  appeared on Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane on Monday, December 22, 2014, as part of a discussion of men's and women's labor force participation. 

Digital Archive of the interview

January 6, 2015

Science Magazine recently published a review of Renee Fox's book, Doctors Without Borders: Humanitarian Quests, Impossible Dreams of Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Full Article

December 12, 2014

Hyunjoon Park and Jere Behrman's article (with Jaesung Choi), "Causal Effects of Single-Sex Schools on College Entrance Exams and College Attendance: Random Assignment in Seoul High Schools" was recently listed by Springer as one of the most frequently discussed Demography articles via social media and other online platforms over the past year.

Link to the list and article

December 9, 2014

Tukufu Zuberi was interviewed by O Globo during a Population Studies meeting in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  The interview (in Portuguese) focuses on race relations in America.

Full Interview (in Portuguese)

December 5, 2014

Grace Kao's essay on teaching and learning titled, "Guiding Students from Individual Experiences to Group-Level Patterns: An Example Using Race and Ethnicity," was recently published in the University of Pennsylvania Almanac.

Full Essay

December 4, 2014

Dorothy Roberts was recently featured on Penn's home page in a video profile discussing bringing different perspectives into the classroom.

Link to the Feature Video and Article

November 25, 2014

Camille Charles was interviewed by Fox 29 News to discuss race relations and the fallout from the grand jury announcement in Ferguson regarding the case of the Michael Brown shooting.

Video Interview

November 20, 2014

Ross Koppel recently co-wrote (with Stephen Soumerai) an editorial for the Boston Globe discussing the Affordable Care Act. 

Full Article (PDF)

November 6, 2014

Liu's Corner
Larry Liu, Class of '15
Sociology Major & Online Ambassador

The opinions on this blog are Larry's personal views based on his experiences, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Sociology at Penn.

Why I Study Sociology

Sociology is regarded as the study of society. But the question that some of my friends and family members have asked me is why would anybody be interested in studying society? Let me explain.

When I grew up in Vienna, Austria to an immigrant family, my parents were barely able to speak the national language, and so the employment opportunities that my parents had were fairly limited. Growing up in a working class and immigrant family made me particularly aware of social differences and economic/status inequality.

In 2008, when I turned 17, there were two watershed moments that changed my life’s trajectory. One was that my family decided to migrate to the U.S., which was a new cultural experience. I had to quickly acquire another language, adopt new practices, and I attended a public high school, where tracking and social class separation within the classroom was built into the whole school system.  I became very curious about how coming from different socio-economic backgrounds can determine one’s economic future, and decided that studying and understanding inequality as a social problem would be a worthwhile project.

The second watershed moment that year was the economic and financial crisis, which devastated the livelihoods of so many working-class families (particularly in the U.S., where much of the bank and mortgage-based problems were concentrated). Many people were losing their jobs and forced to settle for a lower standard of living, and that was the moment when I entered the U.S. I had to understand the political economy of rising inequality and reduced job security in labor markets.

After finishing high school and a brief tour in the Austrian military, I returned to the US to study at a community college, given my modest financial circumstances. I became active in the student newspaper, writing columns about economic challenges facing today’s college students pertaining to student debt and a lackluster job market. After receiving my Associates’ Degree in Liberal Arts, I transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, and it became clear to me that I had to study Sociology in order to further understand the problems confronting workers in the 21st century. As a research assistant in the management department, I investigated current human resource practices for firms, including the harsher mechanisms for hiring workers. I have carried out an independent study project and am working on a thesis paper in Sociology, researching the effects of technological innovation on individual workers' job experience and the potential for large-scale displacement.

While doing this research, I have been able to benefit from the excellent input and feedback from the Sociology faculty at Penn. Being in the program, taking the courses, and collaborating with other students and faculty has helped me to synthesize different kinds of data sources and research findings, develop researchable and interesting topics to study, and contribute new ideas and knowledge about society. I can use that knowledge and my research skills after graduation and apply it to graduate studies and academic research in Sociology and labor/employment relations programs, and in the business world as well. 

Society faces complex problems, and the training I've received in the undergraduate Sociology program at Penn has given me an important advantage in trying to grasp these problems, formulate them clearly, and contribute to creative solutions.


You can follow Larry Liu on Twitter: @userlarry91

November 3, 2014

Janice Madden will give the Presidential Lecture, "The Demography of Commuting:  How Population Groups Create and Respond to Cities" at the North American Regional Science annual meetings in Bethesda, Maryland on November 13, 2014.

October 30, 2014

Emilio Parrado was recently interviewed by Penn SAS Frontiers to discuss the demographic relationship between fertility and immigration.

Full Article

October 30, 2014

Sociology Ph.D Student Valerio Bacak was recently interviewed by Penn SAS Frontiers to discuss his research on how imprisonment and crime affects health.

Full Article

October 30, 2014

Jerry A. Jacobs' book, In Defense of Disciplines, was cited in an October 15 news story on interdisciplinarity in the journal Nature.

Full Article

October 21, 2014

Linda Aiken, Professor of Nursing and Sociology, has received the 2014 Gustav O. Lienhard award from the Institute of Medicine for her research demonstrating the importance of nursing care and work environments in achieving patient-centered, affordable health care. Penn News recently covered the story.

Full Article

October 20, 2014

Dorothy Roberts was recently featured in Penn Current in an interview discussing her career trajectory, research, the influence her parents had on her life, and more.

Full Article


October 9, 2014

The Media Activism Research Collective (MARC) is a new, joint endeavor between the Annenberg School for Communication and Penn Sociology.  It is  student-driven, collaborative, and interdisciplinary group that offers a space for graduate students working at the intersection of media studies and social movement theory.

Innovative research on the dynamic relationship between media and social movements requires methodologies and frameworks that defy disciplinary boundaries. In the spirit of the field’s rich diversity, MARC brings together graduate students and faculty from around the Penn campus to establish a supportive network for research that might not lend itself to a traditional laboratory setting, but nonetheless benefits from collective thinking and creative experimentation.

MARC links students with peers, leading scholars, and resources so as to institutionalize the formation of generative ties that foster deep learning and insightful research. In a field more typically pursued through individual paths that sometimes cross, MARC is committed to the type of synergetic research required to explore the complex realities of activism, social movements, and media systems. 

We will have our first business meeting on Monday, October 20, at noon, in ASC room 224. Lunch will be served.  Please RSVP to by October 15.  

To join MARC's mailing-list, please email with a blank subject line, and in the body of the email, type “subscribe MediaActivismResearch” 

For further questions, please contact Rosemary Clark at or Guobin Yang at


October 3, 2014

Ross Koppel was recently quoted in a Modern Healthcare article that discusses the perceived lack of interoperability between Epic Systems' electronic health-record systems and other systems.

Full Article

September 23, 2014

Larry Liu, Class of '15
Sociology Major & Online Ambassador

The opinions on this blog are Larry's personal views based on his experiences, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Sociology at Penn.

The Undergraduate's Graduate Seminar Experience

I am Larry Liu, and I have studied at Penn since 2012. I’d like to share one of my fondest memories since becoming a Sociology major.  

I enjoyed the courses that I had taken in Sociology, and was very satisfied with the major. In order to broaden my intellectual experience, I decided that I wanted to look for even further opportunities to exchange ideas with professors.  I spoke with the Undergraduate Coordinator, Nancy, about the possibility of taking a graduate course for the fall of 2013, and she strongly recommended it to me. 

I discovered a course titled “Proseminar in Classical Sociology,” which was taught every year in the fall by Professor Randall Collins.  Professor Collins’ book, Four Sociological Theories (1994) was a very profound introduction to the discipline for me. In order to get into the course, I had to get his permission.  I decided that instead of using electronic means such as e-mail, it would be best to try to talk to Professor Collins directly. I did not know what would be the best way to accomplish this, but luckily, one day I saw him on his way walking out of the McNeil building. I made a case for why I should take his course, and he said yes.  I immediately e-mailed Nancy, and a few days later I was enrolled in the graduate course!

 truly enjoyed the course. There was quite a bit more reading than I was used to (1-2 books a week), and a 10-20 page final paper at the end of the semester (my paper applied Marxian and Weberian insights of primitive accumulation and state power to the market reforms in post-1970s China). Additionally, there was a lot more discussion in the seminar than I was accustomed to. 

I was grateful for the intellectual experience and challenge this course provided me. I learned much about Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Simmel, Goffman and many others. Additionally, we had engaging discussions about the research subjects the PhD students were working on, along with our observations from the media, newspaper, books, and daily lives.  The structure of this course was unlike anything I experienced before, which was both jarring and empowering.

Collins noted to us in the last class that knowledge production happens best in a conversational setting such as this seminar. He also said that knowledge production was always the result of collective effort. I experienced this first-hand in each class, and this sociological insight left a lasting impact on me. I am forever grateful for the opportunity I was afforded to take this graduate course; an opportunity that definitely pushed me beyond my horizons.


You can follow Larry Liu on Twitter:

September 19, 2014

Tukufu Zuberi discusses what it means to have a name in the second of his three-part blog series for the Huffington Post inspired by his Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River exhibition at the Independence Seaport Museum.

Full Blog Post

September 19, 2014

Renee Fox, Professor Emerita of Sociology and Annenberg Professor Emerita of the Social Sciences, was recently interviewed by to discuss her new book, Doctors Without Borders: Humanitarian Quests, Impossible Dreams of Medecins Sans Frontieres (John Hopkins University Press).

Full Article