Faculty Profile: Faculty Profile: Roman Williams

Sociology professor Roman Williams knows how to make his intro classes interesting for first-year students.
Sociology professor Roman Williams knows how to make his intro classes interesting for first-year students.

Most professors would not claim that an introductory class is one of their favorites to teach.

Not so with sociology and social work professor Roman Williams.

He’s not the least bit hesitant to jump into the details about his intro to sociology course and discuss why he—and his students—find the class such a great foundation for learning at Calvin.

By taking a deeper look at pop culture—fashion, children’s books, films, advertising—Prof. Williams makes what could be a dreary required course accessible for his busy first-year students.

“I do it through inquiry as opposed to pretending my students are computer chips—that I’m going to give them a test to make sure all the information is there.”

Sociology is the study of social structures in a culture—media, gender and relationships. Essentially, it’s about how we act in our communities and why. Prof. Williams takes this head-on with his students in a highly interactive classroom experience.

One example? Having his students review a fashion magazine, he poses the question, “What is beauty?”

“Through content analysis, we use the idea of beauty to explore things like race, gender and social class.”

“These skills are life skills, as I seem them.”

For Prof. Williams, wanting his students to do well in class isn’t enough. He wants them to think critically about the music, movies and books that are part of their everyday lives.

VERGE: winter 2014

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