News Room

Sociology Faculty Present at International Conference

Sherrie Steiner presented "The Unintended Consequences of Urban Agglomeration and the Construction of Urban Community Gardens" at the 2017 Hebei International Think Tank Forum in Shijiazhuang, China on May 24.


2017 Sociology Student Awards

The sociology faculty were pleased and proud to present the following students with awards at the College of Arts and Sciences Honors Banquet:

Ian King - The Olson Award

Christopher Lafontaine - The C Wright Mills Award

Amanda Hille - The Jane Addams Award

In addition, the following students were Alpha Kappa Delta Awardees:

David J. Cox

Kairah Pippenger

Christopher Lafontaine

honors banquet

Sociology Faculty Present at International Meetings

International Sociological Association Forum

Vienna 10-14 July - 2016

Corruption and Cheating as the Tragedy of Culture

Augusto De Venanzi


Increased political corruption, and cheating in a wide diversity of activities such as sports and academic examinations are becoming two of the most important problems affecting the life of contemporary societies.

The literature on corruption and cheating concurs in that these forms of deviance occur within the framework of particular sub-cultures that work to normalize or legitimate such practices. Some forms of corruption are accepted among political circles. Also, studies on cheating at exams show that many students justify helping friends they are close to, whereas in professional sports many athletes see “fair play” like an expression of amateurism.

Normative frameworks have been put in place to curb dishonesty such as the UN Convention Against Corruption. Severe punishment now awaits exam cheaters, and new screening techniques are used to detect doping in sports. However, beyond such disciplinary responses lies the need to acquire a deeper understanding of the cultural forces driving these harmful trends. It is my contention that the work of George Simmel on the Tragedy of Culture, which duels on the massive growth of objective cultural products, and their overwhelming impact over the subjective culture of individuals, can shed light on the problem at hand.

Vienna threeVienna two_8844

Focus on Local Diversity and Learn about Global Community:

Incorporating Diversity and Social Justice into Japan’s English Language Education

 Mieko Yamada

In a globalized era, people with different native languages increasingly use English and interact with each other. Concomitantly, varieties of ethnic and linguistic backgrounds among these speakers of English create multicultural and multilingual situations. Because of the diversification of English uses and users, the importance of intercultural communication becomes emphasized in the field of second/foreign language education. In Japan where English is taught as a Foreign Language (EFL), the development of English proficiency is one of the nation’s strategies for responding to rapid globalization. If English proficiency is crucial for global communication, how do Japanese EFL learners foster their communication skills and learn about intercultural communication via English?

 This paper examines Japanese university students’ experiences related to EFL classes at their elementary, junior high, and high schools by investigating how they perceive Japan’s domestic diversity and understand the role of English learning/teaching within that context. Interviews with Japanese university students reveal their own experiences with diversity in their EFL classes and the role of EFL education in a globalizing Japan. Because social justice acknowledges diversity as part of human conditions, the discussion on diversity should be extended to EFL education. By focusing on the issues of prejudice and discrimination within the domestic context, I argue that teaching about diversity and social justice be integrated into the EFL curricula in order to develop EFL learners’ positive attitudes toward intercultural relationships and interactions.


Setting and Preserving Social Standards in Uncertain Times

F8/F7/F20 Contributions to the G20 Mandate

Dialogue among Civilizations and Human Destiny Community CASS Forum

Beijing, China 30 August – 2 September, 2016


Nations are not the exclusive bearers of civilized values. Religions bring an important perspective. This paper presents a case study of the F8/F7/F20 Initiative, an interfaith network contributing to governance through dialogue with the G8/G7/G20 system. Aspects of the process are detailed from 2005 through 2016. The F8/F7/F20 Initiative is analyzed for its distinctive contributions to international relations and seven recommendations are offered for its improvement. Multilateral negotiations on worldwide challenges have grown in importance with rising global interdependence, and effective negotiation of the process is itself invoked as an explanatory factor. If the only point of contact between policy makers and religion is instrumental in its approach, religious leaders will continue to feel not only marginalized, but disrespected, contributing to polarization and conflict. Direct dialogue between the G7/G8/G20 system and the F8/F7/F20 Initiative is one way respectful engagement can be strengthened.

2016 Honors Banquet

Winner of the C. Wright Mills Award: Ian Y. King                   Winner of the Jane Addams Award: Elizabeth Eicher

winner of the Arnold O. Olson Award: Amanda Hille, Casey Meadows and Sonya Thies


Sociology Study Abroad in Japan

In Summer I 2016, the course of SOC-S410-01/560-01 “Globalization and Education: Summer Research and Study Abroad in Japan” was led by Dr. Mieko Yamada, Associate Professor of Sociology. Through this course, three students (Tatiana Claudy, Tyler Stacy, and Jeanette Venderly) went to Japan and conducted field studies at the University of Toyama.


During their stay in Japan (May 29-June 13), the students participated in university classes and visited local junior high and elementary school. Tatiana and Tyler, undergraduate students, learned teacher-student relationships as well as teaching styles and methods in Japanese schools. Jeanette Venderly, graduate student, had prepared for research on sociolinguistic competence among Japanese university students. She gathered data via participant observations and surveys at the university. As a final product of this study abroad, all the students made presentations and completed their research papers, based on their data collections. In addition to research activities above, the IPFW group went to Takaoka, which is Fort Wayne’s sister city, for cultural and educational exchanges.

As part of the cultural exchange, students visited Takaoka City Hall, Takaoka High School, and Takaoka City Hospital. IPFW’s Takaoka visit can be found on two websites below. English translations are also provided. For Japanese coverage of the visit with students, see Toyama Prefectural Takaoka High School.


Cross-cultural Understanding Seminar - A Cultural Exchange Event with American Students

Reported by Third-year High School Students, Humanities & Social Sciences, Takaoka High School


On Monday, June 6, 2016, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), Indiana, USA, visited Takaoka High School. An IPFW group of five - Professor Mieko Yamada, 2 undergraduate, 1 graduate, and 1 former exchange student met 28 senior students who are  enrolled in the course of Humanities and Social Sciences at Takaoka High School. This event was organized as Super Global (SG) Special Seminar, “Cross-cultural Understanding,” and it was held at the Audio-visual classroom.


After the IPFW students’ brief self-introductions, Takaoka students offered presentations to introduce “Toyama prefecture,” “Takaoka city,” and “Takaoka High School.” Immediately following the presentations, the students (Takaoka and IPFW) were divided into small groups for discussions. Some groups focused on the topic of Japanese culture and tradition, including Toyama’s locality. Others presented characteristics of Japanese education system and compared both Japanese and American schools. Some other groups talked about living overseas, asking about study abroad in the United States. After a short break, three IPFW students made presentations that introduced the city of Fort Wayne, student life at IPFW, and some characteristics of American high schools. The conclusion of this cultural exchange included Takaoka students asking questions of the IPFW students and ending in a commemorative photo event.        


Takaoka students reflected on the cultural exchange event. One major point suggested they recognized different attitudes toward communication between themselves and IPFW students. For example, some Takaoka students expressed that IPFW students appeared to more actively engage in interactions while Takaoka students were often hesitant to talk with them. Other students added IPFW students tended to clearly present what they think. The event was indeed meaningful for all participants and made Takaoka students re-think their perception of identity as well as evaluate future goals. Several students expressed event satisfaction to the point of strongly considering future study aboard opportunities.


IPFW Students Visited With Takaoka's Mayor

On June the 9th, a group of students from IPFW (Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne) paid a formal visit to the Mayor of Takaoka City. This visitation was made during their studying abroad at the University of Toyama. To view a photo of their visit on the City's website, click on the link for the Official Homepage: The Official Homepage of Takaoka City. Fort Wayne (Indiana, USA), where IPFW is located, is a sister city of Takaoka (Toyama, Japan). The Mayor explained Takaoka’s attractions to the IPFW students: “Takaoka is the city in which old Japan is still alive. It is deeply involved with Japanese traditional culture such as Manyoshu and traditional craftwork. I hope your trip has inspired you to learn more about Takaoka’s history and culture.”   Manyoshu is Japan’s oldest anthology of tanka poems. Tanka is a poem of thirty-one syllables.


This study abroad course was supported by generous donations from Parkview Hospital, Fort Wayne Metals, and the Institution of Research, Scholarship, and Creative Endeavors (IRSC) at IPFW. DeBrand donated chocolates as gifts to Takaoka High School and the Takaoka Mayor.


Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) is a state university, located in northeast Indiana, USA. IPFW is a satellite campus with both Indiana University and Purdue University academic degree programs. That is, IPFW students pursue their degrees from either or both universities, depending their majors. There are about 350 full-time faculty, and nearly 13,000 students on this campus. Because Fort Wayne (Indiana, US) and Takaoka (Toyama, Japan) are sister cities, the IPFW faculty and students visited Takaoka High School for promoting cultural and educational exchanges.