Welcome from the Chair

On behalf of the faculty, staff and students, I want to warmly welcome you to our ‘digital’ home where you can learn about Sociology at VCU.

We are located on an urban campus in the heart of Richmond, Virginia, a diverse city with a rich and complex history.  This location shapes our commitment to advancing social justice through community engaged teaching and research.  VCU Sociology boasts a dynamic faculty whose scholarly research connects with local, national and international communities.  Faculty areas of interest include gender/sexuality, health across the lifecourse, media and culture, labor, social stratification and the environment.  Current faculty research includes:

  • working with a partner in South Africa to examine changing illness representations, health beliefs/behaviors and dr/patient interaction as the nation transitions epidemiologically as well as conduct a transnational (comparative) examination of intergenerational relationships and social support among older adults at the end-of-life;
  • a comparative study of unemployed factory workers in Michigan and Canada to better understand how meritocratic beliefs impact individual coping strategies, social networks and governmental support;
  • a social network analysis of the online pornography industry in an effort to describe the marketing and economics of commercialized sexuality and;
  • an ethnographic study of ‘green capitalism’ to analyze the way in which the logic of capitalism shapes the modern entrepreneurial spirit.
  • an examination of the for-profit educational system as a mechanism of social reproduction of race, class and gender inequality.

Faculty and students share a strong interest in bringing sociology out into the public through social action, internships, community research, digital storytelling and civic engagement.  We have a very active student group called Students for Social Action which organizes an annual Public Knowledge Series designed to open dialogue about current social debates and cultural questions.

Sociology at VCU supports a Bachelors of Science degree, a Masters of Science degree and a graduate certificate in Applied Social Research. Students can complete the M.S. degree via a classic seminar experience or entirely online where, in addition to taking traditional M.S. sociology courses in theory and methods, students are also able to elect to study the digital world.  We are proud to offer the U.S.’s first M.S. degree in Sociology with a focus on Digital Sociology! Our teaching is  anchored by a strong commitment to student engagement both inside and outside the classroom.  Guided by the belief that ‘learning happens everywhere’, VCU students are encouraged to ‘make it real’ by taking their learning out into the community. Sociology students ‘make it real’ through research and/or internships with local community gardens, non-profit organizations, local community colleges, political and policy making organizations or across the ocean to study abroad.  By drawing directly from our research, our teaching creates a vibrant and intellectually engaging collegial experience.

VCU Sociology is an exciting, active and growing department!  There is no better place to ‘do sociology’ than VCU in Richmond, Virginia where a growing ‘foodie’ movement, a strong and vibrant arts culture and ample diversity stir the sociological imagination at every turn.  I invite you to become a part of VCU Sociology…everyone is welcome!!

With warm regards,

Jen Prof Pic 1

Jennifer A. Johnson, PhD
Associate Professor and Chair