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Dr. Todd Schroer
Email: tschroer

2012/2013 Community of Scholars Conference

February 21, 2013, 3:00pm in Kleymeyer Hall

“The Validity of Navajo Is In Its Sounds:”
The Poetics of Punning in Contemporary Navajo Aesthetic Traditions

Anthony K. Webster, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

How can it be that Navajos often consider their language both highly descriptive and simultaneously highly ambiguous? This talk explores the poetic use of a saad aheełt’éego diits’a’ ‘punning’ in Navajo aesthetic traditions.  I begin by looking at the use of punning in Navajo in a variety of settings. I suggest that punning is a highly valued verbal aesthetic practice.  I then turn to uses of punning across Navajo and English. Such interlingual puns between Navajo and English highlight the permeability of linguistic boundaries. I also show how interlingual puns between Navajo and English can be understood as a form of social critique towards outside institutions. Such punning practices are an established form of mischievous grammar. I then turn to the contemporary written poetry of Navajo poet Rex Lee Jim and show how punning are a poetic device which he frequently employs in his poetry.  An understanding of Jim’s poetry then demands, not just attention to the content of the poem, but to the sounds of the poetry and the way the sounds evoke other words.



Sociology graduate conducting filed research in India

Amy Brown, a 2011 graduate in sociology, is one of three students conducting field research in India for two weeks in an internationally known project on social and economic empowerment in resource-strapped communities.

The opportunity resulted from relationships established by Dr. Ronald S. Rochon, provost, and faculty members during two recent trips to India to explore academic partnerships with several organizations.

The students will conduct the field research and analysis under the guidance of Society for Development Studies (SDS) faculty and Dr. Niharika Banerjea, USI assistant professor of sociology. Banerjea's research interests include globalization, urban and community sociology, and South Asia. She will be in India with the students for a portion of their stay.

The academic pursuits and interests of the students selected for the fieldwork mesh with the interdisciplinary nature of the empowerment project.

Brown also completed minors in anthropology, biology, and psychology. Her interest is behavioral ecology - specifically, human adaptations to environmental change. During spring break, she pursued research in Guatemala on a trip led by Dr. Michael Aakhus, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. She is completing the field research as a USI internship.

The other students on the trip to Delhi and Alwar, India, from June 27 through July 10, 2011, are Chanse Ford and Daniel "D.J." Horstman. In Alwar, they will interview families that have been involved for several years with an "empowerment model" developed and implemented by the SDS, a partner institution of the United Nations.

Read the full report >>

Dr. Andrew Buck's article wins award

The Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics has awarded Dr. Andrew Buck, assistant professor of sociology, its 2010 Best Article Prize. Buck’s article, “Network Mobilization and the Origins of the Putin Coalition,” was chosen from 22 peer-reviewed articles by authors from 10 countries and some of the top research universities in the U.S. and abroad. The journal announced the award in its March 2011 issue.

Meet our newest faculty member: Dr. Melissa Stacer, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

Dr. Melissa StacerDr. Melissa Stacer is the newest faculty member within the Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice Studies department. Dr. Stacer, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Studies, began teaching in the fall 2010 semester.

Stacer received a B.A. from Saginaw Valley State University in Sociology and Criminal Justice. After receiving her undergraduate degree, Stacer decided to pursue her passion for the study of Criminal Justice further. She obtained her M.S. and PhD from Purdue University in Sociology with an emphasis in the Criminal Justice system, Race/Ethnicity, and Inequality. Dr. Stacer’s research interest includes corrections with an emphasis on prison inmates and the Federalization of Crime. Her dissertation, “Incarceration Disparities: Prison Inmates and the Federalization of Crime,” examined the difference in incarceration rates between state and federal prison systems. More specifically, this research looks at what kind of offenders  each prison system is incarcerating.

In November 2010, Stacer will be presenting her latest publication, Federalism under Stress: Crime and Crime Control, at the American Society of Criminology in San Francisco, CA. Currently at USI, Stacer‘s courses include Intro to Corrections, Criminological Theory, and Seminars in the topic of corrections.

New Courses in Anthropology!

The Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice Studies is announcing several new classes for the Anthropology minor.  These courses will be available starting in Fall 2010 and will add greater variety and interests to the department’s growing program.

New courses will include:

Anthropology 111: Introduction to World Cultures, which will explore the human condition from a cross-cultural perspective and introduces the basic concepts, theories, and methodologies of cultural anthropology.  This course fulfills the Global Communities (C5) requirement for the Core.

Anthropology 121: Introduction to Archaeology, which will serve as an introduction to archaeological theories, concepts and methods. This course fulfills the Individual Development/Social Behavior (C2) requirement for the Core.

Anthropology 131: Introduction to Physical Anthropology, which will cover topics such as the principles of evolution, human variation and adaptability, non-human primate behavior, human and nonhuman osteology (study of the skeleton), and the human fossil record.  This course fulfills the Science (C3) requirement for the Core.

For more information on these and other Anthropology courses, please visit the Anthropology Minor website at

Career Day Event for S.A.C. Majors!

Wondering what to do after graduation?  Interested in pursuing an internship opportunity to gain work experience before you graduate?

The S.A.C. Club is organizing a Spring Career Fair for SAC majors on March 29 from 10:00-2:00 in Carter Hall!  Employment and internship resources will be available for those interested in careers in Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice Studies.

Students interested in helping with the Career Fair can contact the S.A.C. Club faculty advisor, Dr. Melinda York (Mryork) or the Club President, Leah Weinzapfel (Lmweinzapf1).

S.A.C. Club Meeting Announcement

The Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice Studies Club is holding meetings every other week this semester at two meeting times: Mondays at 11:00 in RL 0026 and Tuesdays at 3:00 in LA 1010.  Students majoring or minoring in the SAC program, as well as students interested in the SAC Department, are invited to attend.

The club is currently planning many exciting events for the Spring semester, including the Career Day on March 29th!  Other activities include the SAC Club Bake Sale, which will be held on March 17th to raise money for Brother’s Keeper, a non-profit focused on reducing recidivism among men in the Evansville community. The Club will also be planning and organizing trips to sites of interest; previous places have included New Harmony, Angel Mounds and the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility.

Upcoming meetings will be on the following dates:
Monday, February 8, 11:00 in RL 0026
Tuesday, February 9, 3:00 in LA 1010
Monday, February 22, 11:00 in RL 0026
Tuesday, February 23, 3:00 in LA 1010

If you are interested in attending meetings or would like to be included on the email list, please contact the faculty advisor, Dr. Melinda York (Mryork) or the Club President, Leah Weinzapfel (Lmweinzapf1).

Department Faculty Receives Multiple Awards

Dr. Mike Strezewski, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, is the recipient of the 2010 Darrel Bingham Historic Southern Indiana Faculty Engagement Fellowship Award. The Bigham Award provides financial support for scholarly work in the areas of consulting, research, service learning, or creation of workshops/institutes by USI faculty.

The $4,000 award will be used to complete Strezewski's project called "Taking Care of (Old) Business: The 1970's Excavations at New Harmony." The project will provide funding for USI students to process and catalog 70 boxes of artifacts excavated from 1975 to 1978 in four Harmonist-era sites in New Harmony, Indiana by John Elliot, a former USI archaeology professor.

In the spring of 2008, Strezewski began working with USI students to process some of the artifacts from Elliot's excavation. The progression was slow due to the lack of funds. The Bigham Award will provide funding for two USI students to process and catalog the remaining materials from Elliot's excavations.

Dr. Steven Williams, Associate Professor of Sociology, is also the recipient of the Dean’s Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching, which is presented annually by Dr. Glassman, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Golden Apples are designed to award the top faculty in each area of their career: teaching, service, and research.  Thus far, SAC faculty have been recipients for two of these three categories.  Dr. Williams has long been recognized by his students as a great teacher.  He currently teaches Principles of Sociology, and Sociological Theory, Popular Culture, and Diversity courses.  Dr. Williams also serves as the director of Gender Studies at USI.

(Credit: USI News and Information Services)

Faculty Profile of Dr. Stephen Zehr

Dr. Stephen Zehr, Professor of Sociology, returned to the Department in Fall 2009 after spending two years at the National Science Foundation (NSF).  The NSF is a federal agency that offers research and educational funding for fields of science and engineering.  The Foundation’s focus is on continued contact with the scientific community in order to gain knowledge of promising and innovative research within these fields that need financial support.

As a Program Officer for the Science, Technology, and Society Program, Dr. Zehr worked with other officers in funding research projects on science and technology from social science, historical, and philosophical perspectives.  This involved working with principal investigators interested in submitting proposals along with reviewing proposals, organizing panelists for proposal assessments, and making budgeting decisions.  Dr. Zehr also worked as an NSF manager for two Centers for the Study of Nanotechnology and Society, which are located at Arizona State University and University of California-Santa Barbara.

This year, Dr. Zehr is sharing his experiences at the NSF as well as his research interests in the environment with USI students. His courses on the Sociology of the Environment (Sociology 415) and the Sociology Seminar on Science and Society (Sociology 370) offer opportunities for students to learn more about these subjects.  According to Dr. Zehr, these advanced courses emphasize “original research” in which “each student creates new knowledge as they continue the coursework”, enhancing the overall learning experience. In addition to these courses, Dr. Zehr also currently teaches Sociological Theory, Introduction to Sociology, and Wealth and Poverty.

Dr. Zehr’s research interests include environmental controversies and how these controversies are present in the popular press and news media. Currently, Dr. Zehr is studying the economic discounting controversy on global climate change policy.  This involves analyzing the debate of how future benefits of costly policies should be measured as well as how these problems affect economic expertise in policy-making contexts.  Other projects include a textbook on the Sociology of Science for undergraduate students and a review of Sociological issues for Sociology of Global Climate Change.

Sociology Alumna Lori Reed, Habitat for Humanity Executive Director

Written by Amy McVay Abbott
Taken from Evansville woman, February/March 2010

[Lori Reed, 1998 Sociology graduate]

Today the mother of three serves as executive director of the local Habitat for Humanity and champions a ministry that she believes transforms everyone involved.
“The Habitat for Humanity philosophy is a beautiful thing,” she says.  “It’s not about charity; it’s about people helping people.  People in need have the opportunity to help themselves; people who have over abundance can participate in this ministry because they know it’s not just a handout.

“Many (beneficiaries) are single moms working 40 to 50 hours a week at their jobs and then coming out to work on Habitat projects.  Each homeowner will work 300 hours doing everything that volunteers do, from picking up trash to framing house walls,” Reed adds.
Reed’s father and grandfather were builders, and she prides herself in a family history of homebuilding.

She has been involved with the planning and building of 55 homes in the new Haven subdivision, a response to the terrible devastation of the 2005 tornado.
“As an organization, we learned a lot both practically and philosophically about the tornado.  We learned how incredibly philanthropic an inspired community can be.  The level of giving at Habitat locally is one that we have not seen before.  And a brand-new donor came forward with a half-a-million-dollar gift.

Many conversations between staff and board after the New Haven project resulted in the Glenwood Initiative.  Reed says this will be a big year for Habitat, with “a more holistic approach to community development in a defined geography, with our concentrating on financial and human capital.”

Reed is excited about the future.  “As an individual, I’ve made a commitment, and I’ll be here until I feel that commitment is fulfilled.

Check out the MySpace and Facebook department sites

The department sites have been created by students for students and alumni (although some professors are on Facebook and MySpace too).  The sites are under our old name still (USI SOCIOLOGY) but include all of our majors.  Regular updates and announcements will be posted there, along with a virtual meeting place for our students and the SAC student club.