Department News

New Article Examines Parents' Attitudes about Safety in Children's Schools

AERA Open ArticleNew research by WSU sociologist Chase Billingham and coauthors Shelley Kimelberg and Matthew Hunt was recently published in AERA Open, the official open-access journal of the American Educational Research Association.

This is the third article to emerge from Billingham and Hunt's "Race, Racial Attitudes, and School Segregation project." It departs from the first two articles by focusing on a unique set of qualitative data that had previously been disregarded in earlier quantitative analyses. By focusing on respondents who originally said “I don’t know” to survey questions about school safety, Billingham and his colleagues were able to probe and get respondents to explain, in their own words, what factors matter most to them when they evaluate the safety of the schools where they send their children. The results can help inform school practices regarding security protocols and marketing strategies, as well as survey research techniques regarding the handling of data that are often discarded during quantitative analysis projects.

Wichita State Sociologist Publishes Op-Ed and Journal Articles on Transgender Medicine

Dr. Alyssa Lynne-JosephDr. Alyssa Lynne-Joseph, assistant professor of sociology at Wichita State University, recently published an op-ed in the Kansas Reflector on the restrictions on gender-affirming healthcare for transgender and nonbinary youth in Kansas proposed by state legislature. In her commentary, Dr. Lynne-Joseph highlights the social processes undergirding the production of medical knowledge and describes existing barriers to gender-affirming healthcare.

Dr. Lynne-Joseph has also written about these topics in recently published peer-reviewed journal articles based on her research in the U.S. and Thailand. In March 2024, Social Science & Medicine published her article “The Reproduction of Knowledge Hierarchies in Transgender Medicine: Professional, Lay, and Global Expertise in Clinical Practice Guidelines” as part of a special issue on transgender health inequalities. This month, Dr. Lynne-Joseph’s article “Sameness Across Difference: A Postcolonial Feminist Analysis of Gender-Affirming Health Care in Thailand and the U.S.”, which analyzes common barriers to care transnationally, was published in the Journal of Health & Social Behavior.

Sociology major profiled in AP story on sex education on U.S. campuses

Stella Gage

Stella Gage, a sophomore sociology major at Wichita State, was profiled by the Associated Press in a story examining the impact of restrictive laws regarding sexual orientation on LGBTQ+ students on U.S. university campuses. Gage, who also studies psychology at WSU, advocated for greater inclusivity and diversity in sex education instruction, which has been limited in many states due to new laws.

Image: Travis Heying / AP

Not knowing who you are is a horrible feeling many LGBTQ+ students wrestle with, Gage said. But equally horrible is not feeling accepted once you do understand your sexual identity.

“Had I known then what I know now, I would have felt safe and confident coming out sooner,” Gage said. “No one should feel like they don’t understand themselves because we are forced to conformity in a world that doesn’t care. We can all be inclusive.”

     - Stella Gage, WSU Sociology and Psychology major

Students at Wichita State have several resources for exploring their identity, connecting with others in the LGBTQ+ community, and learning more about sexuality and safer sex practices, including student organization Spectrum: LGBTQ & Allies, Student Health Services, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Wichita State sociologist is the new Book Review Editor for Kansas History

Kansas History CoverChase Billingham, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator in the WSU Department of Sociology, has been selected as the next Book Review Editor for Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains. This journal, produced at Kansas State University in collaboration with the Kansas Historical Foundation, is an esteemed peer-reviewed outlet for new research on the history of Kansas and the surrounding Plains region of the United States. Billingham has previously published two articles on the history of Wichita in the journal.

WSU sociologists featured at MSS conference

Graduate students promote the sociology program at the 2022 MSS conference.Students, alumni, and faculty from the WSU Department of Sociology gathered in Chicago with sociologists from across the region to participate in the 2022 annual meeting of the Midwest Sociological Society. The conference featured 10 presentations from WSU sociologists on topics including LGBTQ youth school belonging, healthy youth relationship education, college students' coping strategies during the pandemic, and urban economic development in the city of Wichita.

New research reveals previously undiscovered details about Wichita's radical political pastKansas History Spring 2022 Table of Contents

Wichita State University sociologist Chase Billingham has published new research on the history of radical politics in early Wichita. His article, "'Let's Milwaukeeize Wichita': Socialism, Municipal Politics, and the Mayoral Election of 1911," chronicles the rise to prominence of the Socialist Party in the first decades of the city's history. The article draws special attention to the municipal elections of 1911, when Socialist mayoral candidate Albert H. Blase placed first in the mayoral primary, sending shockwaves across the entire country. Ultimately, the Socialists did not prevail in the general election, and Billingham traces the ideological evolution of many leading Socialist figures in Wichita, including Blase, who abandoned Socialism later in his career. Billingham presented this research on the social history of radical urban politics at the 2022 meeting of the Kansas Association of Historians in March. The article appears in the Spring 2022 issue of the journal Kansas History.

Wichita State sociologist wins NCFR award

Hill Clawson NCFR Poster

Dr. Twyla Hill, Professor of Sociology, and Cheyla Clawson, Associate Director for the School of Performing Arts & Assistant Professor of Dance (and a graduate of the WSU Sociology Master’s program), were the recipients of the Professional Issues in Aging award from the National Council on Family Relations in the fall of 2021. Hill and Clawson won the award for their paper, “Choreographing Matrilineal Memories by Combining Oral History Interviews and Dance.” This project involved in-depth interviews with older women, in which respondents were asked about their memories of their mothers and grandmothers. Those interviews were recorded and coded. Student choreographers and dancers at Wichita State drew upon the coded interview transcripts to create dance movements based on the themes that emerged in the interviews. Winners for this award were selected “based on links between the problem posed and knowledge in the field, appropriateness of research approach, relevance and significance of findings, linkages between research and application, quality of writing, and importance of research to the field.”

Labor Economies in the Forces of Insurrection

Chuck Koeber, Chair of the Wichita State University Department of Sociology, recently presented a talk about the Sociology of the January 6th Capitol Insurrection as part of the Fairmount College “Legacies of American Racism" speaker series. Dr. Koeber became interested and more informed about the relationship between people’s jobs and their participation in the Capitol Insurrection after reading a term paper authored by WSU Sociology M.A. student Desiree Baus. Baus’s paper addressed recent efforts by the U.S. military to prevent extremism from developing within its own ranks. Koeber's presentation addresses the context of work (labor) and its influences on the January 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection. It examines the types of jobs in which insurrectionists were employed and also reviews types of right-wing political activism that took place within mass- and social media and within communities and political rallies. Numerous insurrectionists learned the skills necessary to carry out a military style attack while working in their vocation. However, most participants had no military experience and did most of their work while away from their jobs and while online. These “digital soldiers” devoted much personal time and expense to consuming, producing, and transferring media and social media content, much of which was not factual. Nevertheless, these efforts were critical in the formation and spread of radical right-wing political and racial ideologies that motivated actions of a mass movement of insurrectionists on January 6.

Pearson's research published in Gender & Society

Cover of Gender & SocietyNew research from WSU sociology professor Dr. Jenny Pearson and her colleagues at Portland State University (Drs. Lindsey Wilkinson and Dara Shifrer) explores educational outcomes among gender diverse youth. The High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 is the first nationally representative, population-based data set that includes measures of gender identity and educational outcomes. Using the data from the fourth wave (2016), the authors compare the educational outcomes of gender-diverse youth—binary transgender, nonbinary, and gender unsure—with those of cisgender youth. Results suggest that while binary trans youth and gender questioning youth have lower levels of educational success than their cisgender peers, nonbinary youth do not. Using minority stress theory and a structural symbolic interaction framework, the authors consider how social-structural location and feelings of belonging and engagement in school help to explain these differences.

Sociology professor wins prestigious teaching award

Dr. Jennifer Pearson, winner of the 2021 Barrier AwardDr. Jennifer Pearson, Professor of Sociology at Wichita State, is the recipient of the 2021 John R. Barrier Distinguished Teaching Award in Humanities and Social Sciences. This prestigious award is presented each year to one member of the WSU faculty who demonstrates superb teaching, who connects with students in extraordinary ways, and who makes a difference in the lives of students. Dr. Pearson teaches a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses on subjects including sexuality, education, gender, and research methods. In her teaching, she emphasizes how students can apply the tools of sociology to their own lives, drawing attention to how social structures and structural inequalities impact their relationships, experiences, and behaviors. In addition, she serves as faculty advisor for Spectrum: LGBTQ & Allies, a student organization promoting academic success and advocacy for LGBTQ+ students at WSU, as well as the Shocker Sociology Club. Complementing the work that she does in the classroom, Dr. Pearson’s collaboration with organizations on and off campus helps to make spaces and policies more inclusive and equitable for all students.

WSU sociologist delivers Perspective on the Pandemic

Wichita State sociologist Chase Billingham delivered a presentation on September 2 as part of the Perspectives on the Pandemic series organized by WSU's Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Billingham's presentation, "Rethinking the City and the Community for a Post-Pandemic World," examined current urban economic, demographic, and cultural patterns and the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic may impact cities--including the city of Wichita--over the long run. Billingham's analysis of local economic trends also informed his comments in an interview with local news station KWCH regarding the impact of the pandemic on the regional aircraft manufacturing industry.

New article examines school safety and security

How do parents’ perceptions of school safety affect their decisions about where to send their kids to school?  And how do features of school security systems that are ostensibly designed to make schools safer (like metal detectors and security guards) affect how safe parents think those schools actually are?  A new article by WSU Sociology professor Chase Billingham, published in The Sociological Quarterly, examines those questions.  Using data from an experimental survey, Billingham and his coauthors find that parents respond negatively to those heightened security measures.  In other words, they make parents feel less safe, not more safe, about schools, and they also make parents less likely to want to send their kids to those schools.  Importantly, parents’ perceptions of school safety are also heavily influenced by the racial composition of the student body, and their interpretations of school security systems are often viewed through a racialized lens.  This research may have important implications for cities as they strive to build and operate public schools for all of our kids that are safe and secure, while also being warm, inviting places that facilitate integration and student learning.

Click here to read the article: "In Search of a Safe School: Racialized Perceptions of Security and the School Choice Process"

Matson chosen for Academy for Effective Teaching

Dean Ron Matson at his induction into the Academy for Effective Teaching, November 2019

In November, Ron Matson, Associate Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Wichita State, was inducted into the university’s prestigious Academy for Effective Teaching. Matson, who served for six years as Dean of Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and for over a decade as Chair of the Department of Sociology, has been a widely acclaimed teacher and scholar at Wichita State since joining the faculty in 1970. In particular, his Men and Masculinities class was renowned across the university, regularly attracting hundreds of students. Dean Matson previously received the AET Teacher of the Year award in 1996.

WSU grad wins national student paper award

Kallie Kimble was recently named this year's recipient of the Frank Lindenfeld Outstanding Student Paper Award, given by the Association for Humanist Sociology for the best student paper of the year. Kallie received the award for her paper "Age Discrimination in the Workplace: Policy Alternatives to Bolster Protections for the Aging Workforce." Her paper examines and assesses the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act and proposes policy reforms to address the evolving needs of the aging U.S. population. This paper was originally written as a final project in a seminar on Aging and Public Policy, taught by WSU professor Twyla Hill. Kallie received a BA in sociology from WSU in 2017, and she completed her MA in sociology at WSU in 2019.

WSU Sociology student wins research competition

Jamie Wooley, a graduate student in the Department of Sociology, received the top honor in this year's Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects (GRASP) Symposium, an annual event organized by the Wichita State University Graduate School. This annual symposium is designed to highlight the excellent research being conducted by graduate students across the university. Jamie's presentation, based on research that she conducted under the advising of Sociology Department Chair Jodie Hertzog, was titled "Sexual Minority Youth and Teen Dating Violence: Predicting Emotional Distress."

Monique Morris will keynote annual conference

The keynote speaker for the annual Gender & Sexuality in Kansas conference, organized and sponsored by the WSU Department of Sociology, will be Dr. Monique Morris, the founder and president of the National Black Women's Justice Institute. Dr. Morris is the author of Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools (The New Press, 2016). Dr. Morris's keynote address, titled "Education Is Freedom Work (and Other Critical Reflections about Responses to School Pushout for Black Girls)" will take place on Friday, March 29, at 1:00 pm in Room 233 of the Rhatigan Student Center. The address is free and open to the public. More information about the annual Gender & Sexuality in Kansas conference can be found here.

Research by WSU sociologist profiled in The Atlantic

Recent research published in the journal City & Community by WSU sociologist Chase Billingham was profiled in an article in The Atlantic magazine. The article draws on findings from Billingham's article (coauthored with the University at Buffalo sociologist Shelley Kimelberg) to examine the stigma attached to urban public schools and how people's perceptions of school quality can affect their views of the communities they inhabit, with implications for residential segregation.

“We know that these terms ["urban" and "suburban"], which might seem like they are neutral descriptions of physical spaces, are not neutral,” says Shelley Kimelberg, a sociologist at the University at Buffalo who co-authored the study with the Wichita State University sociology professor Chase Billingham. “They reflect people’s lived experiences and the social environment.” According to Kimelberg, the influence an individual’s personal experiences have in shaping how she defines the term urban contributes to a feedback loop, cementing “the idea that urban equals bad school and suburban equals good school.”

Research by Billingham and the Northeastern University sociologist Matthew Hunt is also cited in the Atlantic article.

WSU alumnus publishes article in philosophy journal

Daniel Saunders, a 2018 WSU graduate, published an article in the latest issue of Stance, a peer-reviewed journal of undergraduate philosophical research. Daniel's article, "Durkheim's Relational Account of Social Ontology," examines the ontological underpinnings of the work of the great French social theorist Emile Durkheim. Daniel wrote the original draft of this article as his final essay in Chase Billingham's Sociological Theory class at WSU. Daniel is currently a graduate student studying philosophy at York University in Toronto. You can access Daniel's article here.