Resurrecting Dead Sociologists?

Cecil Greek, an associate professor of sociology at the University of South Florida, has been resurrecting dead sociologists for nearly a decade.

In his Classical Sociological Theory class, students work together in groups to complete a graphic novel project. Since many of the founding members of the discipline have now been dead for 100 or more years, one way to test whether they are still relevant to the discussions about modernity and postmodernity, is to bring them back to life – to view the world today and comment on whether their ideas still appear to be relevant. How they would change or update their thinking? What would Karl Marx have thought about the massive expansion of the middle class in capitalist societies?

Included in the nearly 30 sociologists who have been resurrected are: Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, W.E.B. DuBois, Georg Simmel, Herbert Blumer, W.I. Thomas, Charles Cooley, Michel Foucault, George Herbert Mead, Pitirim Sorokin, William Graham Sumner, E Franklin Frazier, Harriet Martineau, Margaret Mead, Jane Addams, Erving Goffman, Michel Foucault and Zora Neale Hurston. It is quite the list!

In this class, students have the opportunity to learn the value of group work which has its advantages and disadvantages. Assigning roles, creating timelines, adhering to a group created contract and peer review process all become essential to completing such projects.

One of the things that employers frequently ask about is the ability of students to work in group situations. For the instructor, coaching these groups becomes a new teaching skill.

Dr. Greek recently presented a workshop on how to teach using this approach at the American Sociological Association meetings in New York City. His hope is that other faculty will try innovative group projects such as this, as it provides students the ability to think critically, while also working collaboratively – a necessary skill set in modern workplace.

Published on: 12/11/2019