As this semester comes to a close, so does the Colorado College sociology department’s search for a new tenure professor to join the faculty next fall. The department is looking specifically for someone who specializes in scholarly activism and community-engaged research.
The department received approval from the college for the new hire in July 2018. Over the past five months, the search committee has narrowed down the list of candidates to three finalists.
According to Dr. Prentiss Dantzler, a tenure track professor in sociology, students can expect to know the search committee’s final selection early next semester.
When asked about the impetus for the new faculty member, Dantzler cited an external review the college underwent a couple of years ago.
“Part of that external review … [revealed] this idea that we wanted to be way more intentional in how we do social justice work and part of that was teaching students how to critically engage communities,” said Dantzler.
Thus, thanks in part to this external review, the college started thinking more critically about how to create diversity in terms of curriculum and programmatic changes, eventually opening the door for the new position in sociology.
Mark Scaggs ’18, the Department of Sociology paraprofessional, is pleased to see the department formalize its commitment to social justice through the new hire.
“I think this community-based research element will make sure that sociology continues to ‘walk the walk’ when it talks about these social justice issues because students by the end of their college experience should be able to go into communities and be responsible about how they interact with members as a researcher,” said Scaggs. “When we talk about doing sociology in a socially conscious way, I feel like that’s one of the main ways you can do it.”
Dantzler echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the importance of providing students with these tangible skills, especially given the public service careers so many CC graduates pursue.
“We see activism as one of the biggest proponents of changing the world,” said Dantzler. “A lot of our graduates go on to do that type of work in terms of public service or community engagement or development … this [new hire] was a way for us to add another layer to our curriculum to make that more intentional.”
In addition to formal interviews with college faculty and staff, the three finalists for the position also met with students over breakfast during their campus visits. Elam Boockvar-Klein ’20, a sociology major, had the opportunity to meet all three candidates and expressed his enthusiasm for both the candidates themselves and the position more broadly.
“In most of the courses within the department, we come away with an understanding of what is structurally unjust about the world, and an intellectual understanding that we need to change that,” said Boockvar-Klein. “But rarely do we actually engage in a discussion about what activism and advocacy work looks like, who our targets should be, etc. In this vein, after meeting with all three candidates, I am excited for activism to come alive within the classroom and maybe even outside of it, too. No matter who the department hires, they will be equipped to use their own experiences as case studies to help students focus our actions and community-based work.”
Finally, given the new position resulted from broad-reaching dialogue across the college surrounding issues of diversity, Scaggs hopes sociology’s new faculty addition is not an isolated occurrence but rather, a small part of a larger conversation and movement.
“I hope the new hire is part of a broader push where it’s not just something that’s limited to the sociology department but is part of our broader idea that we are at a liberal arts college, and we should be thinking about the work we do in as holistic a way as we can,” said Scaggs. “I hope it starts a conservation.”