Faculty Senate Unit Recognition Award

The Department of Sociology was recognized for its outstanding contributions to education with the Faculty Senate Unit Recognition Award at the Faculty Excellence Awards Ceremony and Reception April 13.

The award recognizes a unit that makes an outstanding contribution to the educational environment at BGSU. It includes an engraved plaque and a $1,000 award.

Department chair Dr. Susan Brown, Professor of Research Excellence, nominated for the department because of its dedication to undergraduate research.

“In recent years, our faculty have worked collectively to significantly enhance the research opportunities for undergraduate students,” Brown wrote in her nomination. “The coordinated effort of our faculty to capitalize on the strengths of our doctoral-granting department has translated into new pathways for our undergraduate students to put their sociological skills into action through social science research.”

Brown added that the department faculty are nationally recognized researchers who successfully compete for federal grant funding to support their work. Now, they are securing federal funding to support undergraduate students through paid positions on their research project teams.

“What is unique about sociology is our faculty dedication to supporting undergraduate research through federal grants,” Brown wrote.

The department’s emphasis on undergraduate research was boosted in 2013 when the faculty voted unanimously to require a capstone course for all sociology majors that would require them to conduct, write up and orally present original social science research. The goal of this course was to have students implement what they have learned in their courses by performing empirical, quantitative research on a topic of interest to them.

While at first trepidatious, students come to appreciate this course. One student wrote in a course evaluation: “I enjoyed being able to work on my own topic and stay within my personal field. It felt as though this capstone was a way for me to truly test how much I like my field and how capable I was to do real research on a micro level.”

The department’s commitment to undergraduate research is not confined to the classroom. Several faculty work regularly with students on independent research through Honors College thesis projects and the McNair Scholars program.

“The successes of our students in the research arena is due to the commitment and dedication of our faculty,” Brown wrote. “Our faculty are investing in undergraduate research and the payoff is significant, both for our department and for the institution as a whole. We are training outstanding undergraduate researchers, which provides students with marketable skills they can use on the job or as they further their education.”