Teaching

Sharon’s teaching focuses on facilitating the process of learning through critical engagement of theoretical texts and empirical studies, self-reflection, dialogue, and fieldwork. She uses a variety of participatory teaching methods to help students understand and analyze the material thoroughly. She also brings comparative and global perspectives to her classes and explains sociological concepts using cases that are accessible and culturally resonant. Lastly, she is an advocate of using technology like social media and podcasts to foster meaningful student-centered learning.

Below are some of the courses she has taught and will teach. Please contact her for a copy of her syllabi or for more information about these courses.

INSTRUCTOR OF RECORD

Core/Required Courses

  • Introduction to Sociology (Grinnell College, Fall 2016 and Spring 2017/2018; University of Pittsburgh, Summer 2013)

As an academic discipline, sociology provides the conceptual tools necessary to identify, understand, and respond to social problems. But more than a field of study, sociology is a way of seeing the world, which can help people understand the connection between individual lives and social forces. Throughout the course and across the selected themes and topics, students examine key concepts central to sociology—social interaction, institution, structure, and change. In addition, they learn the different methods that sociologists use to study social life.

  • Research Methods (Grinnell College, Fall/Spring 2017, Spring 2018; University of Pittsburgh, Spring 2013/2015)

This course provides an introduction to the logics of critical, reflexive social inquiry and an overview of the most common methods used by anthropologists, sociologists, and political scientists in their attempt to explain how the social world works. Survey research, ethnography, comparative-historical approaches, and secondary data and content analysis are discussed. Students explore the strengths and limitations of different quantitative and qualitative methods as they consider how social science disciplines are related to broader structures of power, inequality, and conflict. Throughout the class, they are introduced to the components of social science research, including the ways in which researchers plan their study, define and develop measures for their concepts, draw their samples, and construct research questions and data gathering instruments. They also develop skills in reading, critiquing, and interpreting published research articles as you develop your own study. In addition, you will become familiar with the ethical standards in and political implications of research. Lastly, they master the process of writing grant proposals and publishing research results.

  • Introduction to Statistics (Grinnell College, Fall 2017)

This course is an invitation to the discipline of statistics, which provides powerful scientific tools for understanding trends and patterns in the social world. It is designed equip students with the basic tools to interpret and discuss which type of statistical techniques are appropriate for different kinds of data to answer various research questions. Because the best way to learn is by doing, the course adopts a hands-on, activity-based method from the perspective of applied statistics. Students will also acquire basic knowledge of the software Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). At the end of the course, students are expected to be able think statistically, use facts and figures properly and effectively, and become critical consumers of data.

Electives

  • Sociology of Asian America (Grinnell College, Spring 2017, cross-listed with American Studies and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies)
Flier-SocAsianAm Project Presentation

Flyer for the public presentation of students in Sociology of Asian America

This is the first course of its kind in Grinnell College, which Sharon developed. It examines the experience of Asian immigrants and their children from a sociological perspective. Emphasis is on how the changing global capitalist and geopolitical landscapes have shaped the economic processes, political institutions, and social norms in U.S. society that, in turn, govern the interactions, roles, and expectations of Asian Americans. At the same time, the course foregrounds the agency and subjectivities of Asian Americans—as immigrants, refugees, minorities, citizens, exploited labor, colonized nationals etc.—and examines the ways by which they validate, subvert, and/or reproduce existing power structures. Students cover many key ideas in sociology, including the relationship between assimilation and transnationalism; intersection of race/ethnicity, gender, and class; discursive construction of social groups; emergence and development of oppositional consciousness; and place as abstract and physical sites, as they answer the question: What accounts for the paradox of being both a model and invisible minority at the same time?

  • Migrants, Refugees, and Diasporas (Grinnell College, Spring 2018)

This course offers an introduction to the study of voluntary and forced migration from a global and transnational sociological perspective. In the last century, large-scale cross-border movement of people has transformed both receiving and sending societies, from patterns of majority and minority relations to national identity formation. Drawing from cases in Europe, North America, and Asia, students will examine the behaviors and interactions of actors and institutions as they grapple with changes in their societies due to global migration. They will also learn the construction of migrants, refugees, and diasporas as social problems and seek to understand the sociological underpinnings of power in issues such as assimilation, development, loyalty, racism, and security. The focus of this course is on exploring theoretical and methodological debates in order to develop critical and reflexive capacities in analyzing the global forces that shape increasingly interconnected societies.

  • Peace Movements and Peace Education (University of Pittsburgh, Fall 2012)

This course examines peace movements and peace education over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries from a global and interdisciplinary perspective. In addition to reading philosophical and theoretical work on peace, war, violence, and social change, students conduct empirical studies, which include but not limited to interstate wars, ethnic conflicts, militarization, and masculinity in popular culture. Upon completion of the course, the students should be able to identify the different structures, processes, and actors involved in conflict and peace and to describe the historical trajectories of peace movements, especially on how they maintain or challenge existing economic, political, and social relations.

TEACHING ASSISTANT

  • Societies, University of Pittsburgh, Fall 2014
  • Introduction to Sociology, University of Pittsburgh, Fall 2009 and Spring 2010
  • Statistics in the Social Sciences, University of California, Irvine, Spring 2009
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