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2006 Pacific Sociological Association Conference

“Brilliant.” That’s what Professor Emerita of Sociology Ann Stromberg had to say about Professor Peter Nardi’s presidential address at the annual meeting of the Pacific Sociological Association Conference (PSA). The association is the nation’s oldest regional sociology society and is one of the two largest sociology associations with more than 1,200 members.

Conference Attendees

This year’s annual meeting was held in Los Angeles at the Universal City Hilton, where Nardi delivered the address titled, “Sociology at Play, Or Truth in the Pleasant Disguise of Illusion.” Stromberg also gave glowing reviews of the professionalism of the Pitzer students who presented their papers at the conference: Angela DiLaura ’06, “Sex Education and Sexual Behavior in Students at the Claremont Colleges;” Corey O’Malley ’06 and Isaac Speer ’06, “Transcendent Motivation of the Islamic Revolution;” David Price ’06, “A Skateboarder’s Journey;” and Garett Staley ’06, “Don’t Fold Before the Miracle Happens: Poker Recovery and a Sense of Belonging.”

Nardi served as president for the 2005-06 academic year. His primary responsibility was to organize the annual meeting and work with the executive director on other association matters. Prior to serving as president, Nardi served for four years as the editor of the PSA’s journal, Sociological Perspectives.

Pitzer faculty Kathy Yep, Rudi Volti, and Jonathan Markovitz also presented scholarly papers in sessions, and Beth Jennings organized/chaired the session of student presentations. Other faculty attended the meetings and a number of the Pitzer sociology faculty worked closely with the students who presented their papers.
Attending the conference was Susan Price ’70.

“I was delighted to see that Pitzer continues to attract, retain, and produce students with creative minds, a professional approach, the desire to improve the world, and the ability to cogently and intelligently describe the importance of their education and experience. I was particularly delighted that my nephew was one of them…us,” Price said.

The students who presented at the 2006 Pacific Sociological Association Conference reflect on how the opportunity to conduct independent research as an undergraduate added to their satisfaction with their Pitzer College educational experience:

Angela DiLaura ’06
“Conducting independent research for my senior thesis allowed me to struggle with the process and succeed in producing results of which I’m proud. I feel more confident in my abilities and this project ignited my passion to continue on to graduate school to keep conducting research. Pitzer provided a great opportunity for me to create my own thesis, combining aspects of my human biology major and Gender/Feminist Studies major. The experience was exciting, challenging, and fascinating, and now I understand why researchers want to spend their whole lives doing this kind of work.”

Corey O’Malley ’06
“I’ve found Pitzer to be an extraordinarily supportive academic environment. I’ve been able to do interesting research in several of my classes, including the Social Movements class for which Isaac’s and my paper was originally developed. The professors at Pitzer are genuinely interested in helping students develop their ideas and explore new ways of thinking, both inside and outside the classroom. I couldn’t have done the presentation without their support, and I certainly wouldn’t be going off to graduate school in sociology without their help and encouragement. Pitzer really does have an amazing faculty.”

Garett Staley ’06
“I feel completely prepared for graduate school. Professor Stromberg was an amazing qualitative teacher—very organized and she made us be organized. Qualitative was probably my favorite class; I saw sociology at work in real life and have now found a lifetime’s worth of things I could do further study on.”

Isaac Speer ’06
PPitzer College’s excellent sociology faculty has prepared me to do research using a variety of methods and to conduct independent studies. The breadth of the Pitzer sociology curriculum was demonstrated by our panel at the PSA Conference; we had one student doing survey research, two students doing qualitative studies and Corey and I presented our historical analysis of the Iranian Revolution. My sociology classes have provided me with several opportunities to engage in qualitative, quantitative and historical research. Corey and I decided to use a joint paper we had written several years ago, but we each had several other research projects that we could have presented. I feel like my Sociology education at Pitzer has equipped me with the tools and inspiration to conduct independent research projects and to begin a career as an academic.”

David Price ’06
“Professors at Pitzer give you the opportunity to research a topic that you are truly interested in learning more about. They help students focus and guide them in their usage of various research methods. Beth Jennings was very supportive of my research, which will be instrumental in my future work.”

O’Malley and Speer will be attending UCLA in the fall to pursue the Ph.D. program in sociology while Staley will attend USC for a Master’s in Social Work. DiLaura will spend the summer as an intern at a community clinic where she will analyze data and plan projects in the clinic’s financial division, which she said will prepare her well for a Master’s in Public Health.

—Susan Andrews, vice president for marketing and public relations