SOAN Students and Faculty Win Major Research Awards at PSA’s 2017 Conference

SOAN students and faculty have for many years presented their research at the Pacific Sociological Association’s (PSA) Annual Meeting. This year’s meeting, held in Portland, April 6-9, 2017, was no exception. Besides four SOAN faculty participating in the conference, five SOAN students presented their original senior thesis research, including Kylie Young, Lizzy Chao, Annie Krepack, Leonard Henderson, and Allison Nasson, with each receiving in-depth feedback from faculty discussants and participants at their roundtables. We are proud of each of our SOAN students, who presented fascinating research on topics as diverse as “farmwives” and changing gender identities in rural communities, parental control over school lunches, hip-hop in global and local settings, and more.

This year we are also pleased to share the exciting news that SOAN major Allison Nasson and SOAN Associate Professor of Sociology Jennifer Utrata won two major research awards announced at PSA. These awards are significant given that the PSA, the oldest of sociology’s regional associations, includes sociology departments from the entire Pacific region of North America, including California, Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alberta in Canada, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska, Wyoming, and more, with only one recipient in each award category.

At the Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony on Friday evening, Allison Nasson, a senior SOAN student, won the 2017 Distinguished Undergraduate Student Paper Award for her paper entitled “Donor-Friendly Victimhood: Narrative Construction as a Fundraising Strategy.” The paper, lauded for its high professional quality, and building on her summer research award work, examines how personal narratives have become a key fundraising tool for nonprofits as they compete for attention and funding. It argues that studying the selection, manipulation, and circulation of these stories provides insight into which identities are being privileged, whose stories are going untold, and the potential ramifications of these trends.


SOAN senior Allison Nasson receiving the 2017 PSA Undergraduate Student Paper Award from Dr. Kposowa, Awards Committee Chair and Professor of Sociology, UC-Riverside.

We are impressed by Allison’s achievement, and cannot help but feel some SOAN pride more generally given that this is the second consecutive year and the fifth time in the past decade that a Puget Sound SOAN student has won one of these highly competitive undergraduate student paper awards.

At the same awards ceremony, Jennifer Utrata, Associate Professor of Sociology in the SOAN Department, was awarded the 2017 PSA Distinguished Scholarship Award for her book, Women without Men: Single Mothers and Family Change in the New Russia (Cornell, 2015). The award recognizes major intellectual contributions embodied in a recently published book or a series of at least three articles on a common theme.


Prof. Jennifer Utrata receiving the PSA Distinguished Scholarship Award from Dr. Judith Hennessy, Central Washington University.

Utrata’s book illuminates Russia’s “quiet revolution” in family life through examining the puzzle of how single motherhood, frequently seen as a social problem in other contexts, became taken for granted in Russia. The ambitious book uses the Russian case of growing single motherhood during the transition to capitalism to think theoretically and critically about assumptions in U.S.-focused scholarship on family change, poverty, and gender relations. Last year her book won the other coast’s major award, the Eastern Sociological Society’s Mirra Komarovsky Book Award.

Traditionally SOAN faculty presenting research, organizing sessions, or serving as discussants on panels gather together with student presenters over dinner. This year we had plenty of celebratory toasts and discussions, and we look forward to gathering together in future years with students presenting their original research.


SOAN Sociology Professors and students gathered for dinner at PSA: Jason Struna (and adorable son!), Kylie Young, Lizzy Chao, Annie Krepack, Jennifer Utrata, Ben Lewin, John Parker (Arizona State), and Leonard Henderson.

Would you like to join us at next year’s PSA? Are you interested in learning more about the SOAN major and its opportunities for conducting, and presenting, independent research? Then be sure to drop by the SOAN Research Symposium, to be held this Friday, April 21st from 3:30-5:30 in the Tahoma Room…all are welcome, refreshments provided.

Congratulations to Allison Nasson, Prof. Utrata, and all of the students and faculty who participated in this year’s PSA!


SOAN Fall Mixer, this Thursday!

Hi all,

The SOAN department, in conjunction with the SOAN student club, will host its Fall mixer this Thursday. Learn more about the SOAN major and minor, hear about research opportunities, meet other students, ask about the courses offered in the Spring, and grab some free food. Here are the details:

What: SOAN Fall Mixer
Where: Tahoma Room
When: 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM, Thursday October 27

We hope to see you there!


Peace Corps Conversation Today!

RPCV Panel Poster-2Are you considering U.S. Peace Corps service? Many of you may know that Puget Sound ranks #1 in the number of its graduates choosing to serve in the Peace Corps among small colleges. However, perhaps you have questions about whether this experiential learning (and serving) opportunity is right for you. If so, please plan to attend a panel with Puget Sound faculty who have served in the Peace Corps, including SOAN’s Jennifer Utrata, Associate Professor of Sociology. She was in the first group of volunteers to serve in formerly Soviet Central Asia (Uzbekistan) in the early 1990s.

What: Panel Discussion with Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
When: Tuesday, March 8, 5:30-6:30
Where: Howarth 101

Hope to see you there!

Professor Denise Glover talks about her new album

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We asked our colleague, Professor Denise Glover, to talk about her new album! Here’s what she had to say:

To kick off the new year, I released a new album, titled Pathways. This is my first solo album (which just means that it is a work separate from membership in my band, Rosin in the Aire). Although a “solo” album, I am incredibly indebted to the amazing musicians that joined me, including Puget Sound’s very own Professor Don Share (P&G Dept, and in several bands), who plays guitar and sings harmony on two cuts. The songs (lyrics and music) are all my own with the exception of one song (my husband wrote the lyrics for “Your Face”). We started on this project back in March of 2015, with our first recording date at David Lange Studios in April and our last in October 2015 (I did research in China during part of the summer, and we were all very busy). My producer, Julian Smedley, an accomplished musician and producer, plays impressive guitar, fiddle, and viola throughout. Also joining me was Cary Black (Kathy Kallick Band) on bass, Bob Knetzger (The Debutones) on dobro and pedal steel, Jeff Busch (multiple bands) on percussion, Ben Smith (Heart) on drums, David Lange (Pearl Django, and a Puget Sound graduate!) on accordion, and two of my bandmates from Rosin in the Aire, JP Wittman on fiddle and Allan Walton on banjo. In addition to singing, I play mandolin and guitar on the album.

As some of you may know, as an undergraduate I studied music. It was fun, but my path branched off to the study of anthropology after that and I was fully consumed. After finishing my PhD, I found a way to balance my academic and musical lives, which makes me very happy and grateful—one feeds my mind, the other my soul. Several of my songs reflect my anthropological outlook on life, from writing about the human condition, travel, love, and family, to being self-reflective about one’s own short-comings. “Deep History” is a song that starts out talking about my own family history, and then expands to talk about the history of our species, tracing back to mitochondrial Eve in Africa, and how all humans are relatives (a point too easily forgotten). I wrote “Pietracatella” after exploring my own family roots in Italy and visiting my great grand-mother’s natal village (after which the song is named). “Along the Path” came to me when I first started studying Buddhism and became interested in Asia (many years ago). A recent song I wrote, but not on the album, is titled “Medicine Man” and is inspired by the research I have done with Tibetan doctors in China’s SW.

I experienced my first live radio interview a couple of weeks ago (interesting to be on the “other” end of the interview—since we anthropologists interview people a lot of the time), and on February 19th we will be having a CD release party in Seattle at Egan’s Ballard Jam House. If you would like to learn more about my music, please visit  or Here is the first cut on Pathways, one of my favorites (and Don Share plays and sings on this one): “High Plains Drifter”  [here is the link to insert, to hyperlink:  ]

Thanks for reading/listening!


SOAN Student Club Party Tonight!

IMG_7392Hi all,

So the leaders of the revitalized SOAN Student Club asked if they could host a semester-concluding party at my house tonight, and I said yes. So, from 6:00 to 8:00 tonight, I’ll be hosting a SOAN student open house at my Salmon Beach place. And although we’re in throes of the semester’s end, a handful of other SOAN faculty hope to be there as well. We hope you can join us!

IMG_8304Here are some additional details: students will be meeting at Diversions at 5:30 PM today, Wednesday. My house isn’t the sort of place you can just drive to — getting there is complicated, so you’ll need to touch base with one of the club officers or contact me if you’re going to try and find your own way there. The SOAN club intends to provide some food and more for those who make the journey.

Event: SOAN Student Club Social
Where: Professor Gardner’s House
When: Meet at Diversions at 5:30 for a ride
When Exactly: 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Salmon Beach 56

We hope to see you there.


SOAN Brownbag Today!

atwillHi all,

Historian David Atwill, from Pennsylvania State University, is lecturing tonight about his research, but the SOAN Student Club has arranged an informal brownbag conversation earlier today. He’ll be generally speaking about ethnography, the discipline of history, and research more broadly. It promises to be an illuminating conversation.

Where: Northwest Lounge, Commencement Hall
When: Wednesday, Nov. 18, 1:00 – 2:00 PM

We hope to see you there!


SSI Classes Take Trip to Swan Creek Food Forest

Eli samples an ant

Eli samples an ant

A few weeks ago, Professor Denise Glover’s two seminar classes (SSI 117 People, Plants, and Animals) took a field trip to the Swan Creek Food Forest (SCFF) here in Tacoma. The purpose of the trip was to learn more about local urban foraging and the connections between land and people in the area. Our guide was Puget Sound alumna Renee Meschi (’15), who now works for the Pierce Conservation District in Tacoma, and is Program Specialist for SCFF activities. She explained to us the layers of social history on the land (which included the land as traditional Puyallup foraging grounds) that was designated as the Swan Creek Food Forest in 2012.

Students listen to Renee explain the history of the land at SCFF

Students listen to Renee explain the history of the land at SCFF

Erin taking an extracted blackberry plant to the dumping zone

Erin taking an extracted blackberry plant to the dumping zone

In our class, we had just finished up a unit on traditional foraging and were transitioning into a section about contemporary issues involving people, plants, and animals (such as industrial farming, non-human animal legal rights, urban edible landscapes, the centrality of pets in the lives of urban Americans, and related topics), so the field trip was well timed—and offered students the opportunity to see the ideas we had been discussing in action. As one student wrote: “While reading the articles for class, I didn’t fully grasp how examples of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in indigenous communities were relevant to me. Seeing the food forest helped me tie all the readings together, as I drew from the ideas of Agrawal and Turner to put TEK in the perspective of my position—a suburban, western educated white boy.”

In addition to an introduction to the SCFF, we toured the grounds and Renee pointed out important areas of foraging and the natural kinds foraged there, such as bracken fern (Pteridium), hawthorn (Crataegus), St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), and ground ants (some of the students even sampled ants during our walk through the food forest—see photo). Lastly, students lent their human labor to the task of removing invasive blackberries.

Students listen to Renee explain the history of the land at SCFF

Blake, Sarah, and Andy (behind Sarah) dig up blackberries while Chloe looks on.