Self-Study Report 2003 I. Environmental scan a. Sociology, Anthropology & the World


II. DEPARTMENTAL STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES



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II. DEPARTMENTAL STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES


A. Strengths



1. Cross-Disciplinary Emphasis
The faculty and programs of FIU’s Department of Sociology & Anthropology hold a steadfast commitment to cross-disciplinary inquiry and training (see Appendix B). This includes synergy between sociology and anthropology, on one hand, and between these and other disciplines, on the other. As scholars worldwide have come to question the efficacy of traditional disciplinary boundaries,6 we believe that cross-fertilization capitalizes on the theoretical and methodological strengths of sociology and anthropology to explore the layers of South Florida’s interplay with the wider world. Our cross-disciplinary commitment underpins our training of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as the various other Departmental strengths that are discussed below.

With regard to research, recent examples of the Department’s cross-disciplinary activities include the following:




  • “Religion, Immigration, and Civic Life in Miami”: Alex Stepick (Principal Investigator) and Sarah Mahler, research project with Terry Rey (Religious Studies, FIU), Yves Labissiere (Social Psychology, Portland State University), and Miami church organizations

  • Problematizing Blackness: Self-Ethnographies of Black Immigrants to the United States (Routledge, 2003), co-edited by Jean Rahier with Percy Hintzen (African-American Studies, University of California, Berkeley)

  • “Social Science Research Council, Program on Latin America and the Caribbean”: Jean Rahier serves on a working group whose agenda is to strengthen dialogue, research, and training across disciplines, institutions, and localities
  • “Social Science Research Council, Working Group on Gender and Migration”: Sarah Mahler serves on this working group and is the lead author of its agenda-setting document, “Overcoming Multiple Marginalizations: Ethnologists within Migration Studies Push Gender from the Periphery to the Core” (with former departmental faculty member Patricia Pessar, now at Yale University).


  • “Social Science Research Council, Immigration Studies”: Alex Stepick served on this year’s selection committee for postdoctoral fellowships, while Sarah Mahler served on the selection committee for predoctoral fellowships.

  • “A Public Engagement Handbook for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Planning Process”: Laura Ogden and Hugh Gladwin with Mahadev Bhat (Environmental Studies, FIU), Daniel Dustin (Health, Phyiscal Education & Recreation, FIU), and Kenneth Lipartito (History, FIU), all members of The Human Dimensions Research Group, FIU

  • “Central America 2020”: Douglas Kincaid, research project with Victor Bulmer-Thomas (Economics, University of London) and multidisciplinary specialists on Central America

  • “Review of U.S. Brazilian Studies”: Janet Chernela, research project with multidisciplinary specialists in the social sciences and humanities

  • “Conservation in Central Amazonia”: Janet Chernela, research project with multidisciplinary specialists in the environmental sciences

  • “Assessing Disaster Vulnerability at the Community Level: Testing the Model in El Salvador and Dominica: Betty Hearn Morrow (now Emeritus Professor, Principal Investigator), research project with multidisciplinary specialists Lourdes Meyreles (FLACSO-Dominican Republic), Judith Soares (Women and Development Unit, University of the West Indies), Marta Gonzalez (FLACSO-El Salvador), Audrey Mullings (Caribbean Disaster Response Agency, Barbados), and Elaine Enarson (Metropolitan State University, Denver)
  • “National Baby Teeth Study” (on the possible relation of low-level environmental radiation to public health problems): Jerald Brown, research project with scientists, physicians, and public-health researchers in radio-chemistry, radiation physics, epidemiology, and toxicology


  • "Anthropogenic Change in Neotropical Landscapes": William Vickers, research project with Brad Bennett and Maureen Donnelly (Principal Investigators, Biological Sciences, FIU)

  • “Household Livelihoods and Sustainable Development in Mayan Ejidos in Quintana Roo, Mexico”: Richard Tardanico, research project with David Bray (Principal Investigator, Environmental Studies, FIU)

Professors Kathleen Martín and Lois West have done considerable cross-disciplinary program building in comparative/global gender studies, including through FIU’s Women Studies Center. Promising to deepen the Department’s cross-disciplinary linkages are proposed new graduate and undergraduate certificates in Sustainable Communities, which Professors Laura Ogden, Hugh Gladwin, and Richard Tardanico have taken the initiative to organize; and a proposed undergraduate certificate in Ethnicity & Immigration Studies, organized by Sarah Mahler and Alex Stepick. The proposed certificates would cut across not only departments in the College of Arts & Sciences but also FIU’s Colleges and Schools.


2. Undergraduate Advanced Research Methods (SYA 4450)

Beginning in the Spring 2003, Advanced Research Methods (SYA 4450) will be offered periodically as a follow-up to Basic Research Methods (SYA 3300) for selected students who will work as a team on the course professor’s current research project. In the Spring 2003 such students worked with Professor Alex Stepick on a funded research project concerning agencies serving immigrants in Miami. This course coincided with the major’s growing emphasis on providing students hands-on research experience, including experience working in multicultural teams.

3. Undergraduate Senior Capstone Seminar (SYG 4972)
This seminar, which was introduced in the Spring 2002 and is now offered each Fall and Spring semester, has added considerable rigor to the Department’s undergraduate major curriculum. The seminar requires that students culminate their Departmental major studies by writing a sizable research paper with considerable attention devoted to principles of editorial format and writing and to effective use of graphics. The students also orally present their project, accompanied by PowerPoint slides, in a forum attended by faculty, graduate students, and other undergraduate students. The seminar aims to ensure that our undergraduate majors are well prepared for graduate and professional school as well as for the demands of the job market and for leadership roles as local, national, and global citizens.
4. Department’s Key Role in FIU’s new Undergraduate Core Curriculum
The department’s courses comprise a sizable share of the Social Inquiry section of FIU’s new Undergraduate Core Curriculum. The department’s courses are particularly large as a share of the sub-category Societies & Identities. Under the sub-category Foundations of Social Inquiry, the department offers ANT 2000, Introduction to Anthropology; SYG 2000, Introduction to Sociology; and SYG 2010, Social Problems. Under Societies & Identities
, the department offers ANT 3212, World Ethnographies; ANT 3241, Myth, Ritual, & Mysticism; ANT 3451, Anthropology of Race & Ethnicity; SYG 3002, Basic Ideas of Sociology; and SYD 3810, Sociology of Gender.
5. External Grants Funding in Transnational Migration/Race-Ethnicity

While the Department has recently lost considerable grants capacity due to faculty departures to other universities (Professors Walter Peacock in disaster research and William Avinson in medical sociology) and to retirement (Professor Betty Morrow, disaster research), its grants record in transnational migration/race-ethnicity studies remains strong (see Appendix F). This record has been anchored by Professors Alex Stepick, Sarah Mahler, and Jean Rahier (who has a joint appointment in Sociology & Anthropology and African-New World Studies). Such grants have enabled the Department’s many graduate students to hone their skills in actual research projects. This is a key reason why many of our Ph.D. graduates have obtained faculty positions in sociology and cross-disciplinary programs (see Appendix G).

It is anticipated that Professor Laura Ogden (an assistant professor of anthropology who began at FIU in Fall 2003 and who specializes in environmental anthropology) will spark considerable grants activity within the Department’s specialization in environmental studies, including in collaboration with Professor Hugh Gladwin. It is also anticipated that the 2003-04 searches for two new faculty members in environmental anthropology will bolster grants activity in this specialization. Grants collaboration with FIU’s Department of Environmental Studies, as well as via LACC and the Center for Transnational & Comparative Studies, should become an integral part of this equation. If these searches prove successful, then FIU’s Department of Sociology & Anthropology and Department of Environmental Studies could combine to anchor the nation’s preeminent program in environmental anthropology. This anticipated strength, which would revolve around South Florida and Latin America and intersect with LACC’s Institute for Sustainability Sciences and with the Center for Transnational & Comparative Studies, can be expected to underpin a major upswing in external research funding.
The 2003-04 search for a specialist in social demography, comparative/global studies, immigration studies, and research methods/statistics stands to bolster external research funding in transnational migration/race-ethnicity studies. This, too, promises to deepen the Department’s funded-research ties with LACC and with the Center for Transnational & Comparative Studies.

6. Training Graduate Students from Other FIU Departments & Colleges

There is considerable enrollment in the Department’s graduate courses by students from other Departments and colleges. The principal attraction for such students is the Department’s expertise in research methodology. Research Methods I (SYA 6305, taught by Sarah Mahler) enrolled 27 students in Fall 2002 and (taught by Alex Stepick) enrolled 28 students in Fall 2003, of whom more than 40% have been from other programs (mainly from the M.A. Program in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, but also from various other programs). Qualitative Research Methods (ANG 6497, taught by Betty Morrow) enrolled 12 students in Spring 2002, of whom 58% were from other Departments. Social Research & Analysis (ANG 5496, taught by Richard Tardanico) enrolled 22 students in Fall 2002, of whom 41% were from programs as diverse as Environmental Studies, International Relations, Political Science, Religious Studies, and Biology. Sociology of International Development (SYP 5447, taught in recent years by Anthony Maingot) is populated mainly by graduate students from the M.A. Program in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and from the graduate programs in the departments of International Relations, Political Science, and History.

7. Innovators of “The Miami School” of Urban Studies
The Department’s national and international leadership in studying Miami has coalesced into a “Miami School,” which emphasizes how multicultural immigration and transnational communities have fundamentally reconstructed South Florida, turning an “Anglo” dominated, relatively marginal U.S. city into what some Latin American observers are today calling “Latin America’s most globalized city” (e.g., Workshop on Globalization & Urban Studies, Vienna, Austria, October 2002). Arguably the Department’s faculty has written the definitive social science books on Miami. Among these are the award-winning City on the Edge,7 by Alex Stepick and Princeton sociologist Alejandro Portes; Miami Now! by Guillermo Grenier and Alex Stepick; Hurricane Andrew by Walter Peacock, Betty Morrow, and Hugh Gladwin; and Miami Beach in 1920 by Abraham Lavender. Lisandro Pérez has made seminal contributions on the topic though his many publications on Cuban immigration and assimilation, including his recent work on second-generation Cuban immigrants.
This expertise is becoming diffused among European academicians and students by means of Douglas Kincaid and Sarah Mahler’s leadership in building the international, inter-university consortium, “Transnationalism, International Migration, Race, Ethnocentrism and the State” (TIRES). Kincaid (as Vice Provost of International Studies) is laying the groundwork for the Department’s faculty to begin to undertake research on contemporary immigration in Europe.
The Department offers FIU’s widest array of undergraduate and graduate courses on Greater Miami in transnational perspective. Such offerings play a vital role in FIU’s urban and international missions at the undergraduate and graduate

levels.

8. Pioneering Gendered Disaster Research

Emeritus Professor Betty Morrow (who retired in Spring 2003) has received national and international recognition for having pioneered gendered research and policy approaches to disaster preparedness, impact, and response. Professor Morrow’s research was funded by the National Science Foundation and carried out in the Laboratory for Social and Behavioral Research in FIU’s International Hurricane Research Center. Sociologist James Rivers, who holds an affiliated faculty position with the Department of Sociology & Anthropology, is continuing this line of work in the Laboratory for Social and Behaviorial Research.
9. Faculty Leadership in Disciplinary & Cross-Disciplinary Scholarly Associations & Journals
The Department’s faculty has played leadership roles in the American Anthropological Association (AAA), the American Sociological Association (ASA), the International Studies Association (ISA), the Caribbean Studies Association (CSA), the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), and so forth, as well as in scholarly journals. For example, Jean Rahier is editor of the Journal of Latin American Anthropology; Kathleen Martín is chair of the AAA’s Ethnics Committee; Janet Chernela has served on the AAA’s Task force on El Dorado (involving a major international controversy over research ethics); Alex Stepick serves on the AAA’s Margaret Mead Award Committee; and Douglas Kincaid is a member of the executive committee of the ISA and chairs the international component of the ASA’s 2005 Centennial Celebration.
10. FIU Institution-Building
The Department’s cross-disciplinary commitment has also been reflected in the faculty’s vigorous role in building FIU’s extra-Departmental programs, which have been essential to the university’s research, teaching, and service missions. Here are some major examples:


  • African-New World Studies: Jean Rahier

  • Cuban Research Institute (within the Latin American and Caribbean Center [LACC]): Lisandro Pérez

  • Center for Women’s Studies: Kathleen Martín, Lois West

  • Environmental Studies Certificate: Jerald Brown, Hugh Gladwin, Janet Chernela, William Vickers

  • Honors College: Stephen Fjellman, Barry Levine

  • Immigration & Ethnicity Institute: Alex Stepick, Sarah Mahler

  • Center for Labor Studies & Research: Guillermo Grenier

  • Institute for Public Opinion Research: Hugh Gladwin

  • Institute for Sustainability and Sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean (within LACC): Janet Chernela, Hugh Gladwin, William Vickers

  • International Hurricane Research Center: Betty Morrow (Emeritus), Walter Peacock (former faculty member)

  • Inter-University Consortium on Transnationalism, International Migration, Race, Ethnicity and the State (TIRES) (within the Center for Transnational and Comparative Research): Douglas Kincaid, Sarah Mahler

  • Madrid Center for Education, Research,and Development & the Genoa Academic Initiatives: Douglas Kincaid

  • Latin American and Caribbean Center: Douglas Kincaid, Richard Tardanico

  • Center for Youth Development & AIDS Studies: Lilly Langer

  • University Breadth Requirement Committee: Richard Tardanico, Sarah Mahler

The Department’s faculty is in the midst of building two new university-wide programs as well:



  • Undergraduate certificate in Ethnicity & Immigration Studies: Sarah Mahler, Alex Stepick. This certificate will focus on (1) immigration history, policy, and law; and (2) race-ethnicity and other dimensions of socio-cultural in Greater Miami and elsewhere. It will be coordinated with TIRES (see above), and will orient students to social science graduate studies and law/policy studies on the topic.





  • Graduate and undergraduate certificates in Sustainable Communities: Laura Ogden, Hugh Gladwin, and Richard Tardanico. This certificate will emphasize the social, cultural, econmic, political/policy, and historical aspects of environmental transformations.


Summary of Strengths
We have documented the Department’s considerable strengths. It is strongly committed to cross-disciplinary programs in an age in which traditional disciplinary boundaries are eroding. The Department is providing increased opportunities for undergraduate majors to do hands-on research under faculty supervision. This includes Advanced Research Methods and the Senior Capstone Seminar, the latter of which ensures that all majors gain state-of-the-art preparation for graduate and professional school, the job market, and citizenship responsibilities. The Department’s courses are amply represented in the Social Inquiry section of the new Undergraduate Core Curriculum, especially under Societies & Identities.
The Department has a strong record of external funding in the specialization of transnational migration/race-ethnicity, and expects to attain such a record in environmental studies as well. Its graduate program has served high numbers of graduate students from other departments and colleges. The Department’s faculty provides national and international leadership in scholarly expertise on Greater Miami in comparative-international perspective, as well as for national and international scholarly associations and journals. Finally, the Department’s faculty has been a prime source of FIU institution-builders



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