happy holidays

Title: Andrew G. Truxal Professor of Sociology and Chair, Department of Sociology and Social Work

Department: Sociology and Social Work

Degree: Ph.D., University of Maryland

What brought you to Hood College? 

I taught a few courses here on an adjunct basis while I was still in graduate school, and then was fortunate to be hired full time when a position became available. Many things drew me here: the size, the emphasis on the liberal arts, the priority given to teaching and, at the time, that it was a women's college.

What do you value most about your relationship with students? 

I love helping them grow, intellectually and socially, and seeing them leave Hood as confident, competent young women and men. I also particularly enjoy working with them on independent research projects, as they begin to see themselves as real social science researchers!

Why is teaching your dream job? 

I love the autonomy and the flexible hours, but mostly I appreciate the many different challenges I've been able to take on as a college professor—teaching, working with students outside the classroom, doing research, giving talks and presentations, writing books and articles, serving as a consultant, developing new courses and curricula, and interacting with folks in my own and other disciplines, something that is far more possible at a small college such as Hood. And there is nothing like getting paid to think and talk and read and write about things that are important to me.

If you were to consider another career, what would you consider and why? 

I must admit that I have wanted to be a sociology professor since I was a junior in college. I truly don't think I have ever even seriously considered another career—although I sure would have loved to be the lead singer in one of those 1960s girl groups.

Describe your approach to teaching? 

I think the most important thing we can do as teachers is to get students excited about learning. As a sociologist, I also have as a goal helping students develop what we call a "sociological imagination"—that is, the ability to understand and appreciate the importance of social forces in shaping human behavior and the human experience, including their own. To those ends, I encourage students to be active learners, both in and outside of the classroom, and to think analytically and critically about the social world—including how they can use their newfound knowledge to make it better in their lifetimes.

What is/are your most memorable moment/s at Hood? 

Gosh, there are too many to remember; I've been here a long time! But surely one was President Volpe and Dean White dancing with Blaze at least year's Convocation. We've also had some memorable commencement speakers, including Jean Stapleton, Pearl Bailey and Cokie Roberts. And watching my favorite students walk across that stage at graduation always makes me smile.

Describe your academic interests and research? 

I have done research on women and education, the gendered labor market, the medicalization of pregnancy and birth, and different aspects of higher education, with a focus on community-based research and other forms of community-based learning. Most recently I've been researching and writing about a "fringe" therapeutic community, with a particular eye toward identifying mechanisms of influence used by such groups to attract and retain devotees. I am also active in my disciplinary association, the American Sociological Association, and have served as a consultant and speaker on many different topics related to curriculum, teaching and learning in sociology.

When you aren't working, what are you doing in your spare time? 

I sing in a small choral group and a jazz quartet that I formed, and I try to play tennis two or three times a week. I also garden, love to travel, follow the Nats (that's the D.C. baseball team), try to keep up with my adult children's lives, and just hang out with my two cats, Lucy and Pearl.

Name three books that you would recommend everyone read: 

I can't think of a book that everyone ought to read, but three books that have been especially meaningful to me are:

  • Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality.
  • Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach
  • E. B. White, Charlotte's Web
  • If you would like to contact Professor Strand, you can e-mail her at strand@hood.edu.