Welcome to Pitzer's New Faculty

This fall, as Pitzer College's faculty continues to expand, the College welcomed three new tenure-track faculty members: Erich Steinman (Sociology), Emma Stephens (Economics) and Rachel VanSickle-Ward '99 (Political Studies). Rachel is the second Pitzer graduate to join the faculty after Professor of Environmental Studies Paul Faulstich '79.

Erich Steinman

Assistant Professor of Sociology

Education: PhD, Sociology, University of Washington; MA, Sociology, University of Washington; BA, Government and International Affairs, Augustana College

Current Courses Taught: Indigenous Peoples of the Americas: Colonization, Identity, Resistance; Alternative Modes of Social Organization; and Sociology of Law: Power, Rights and Change

Research Interests: Social movements; political sociology; culture; institutional theory, law and society; American Indians and indigenous people; race and ethnicity; public policy; and sexuality, sexual orientation and gender

What is your proudest achievement in your career thus far?

Envisioning and creating a collaborative course with members of the Makah Indian Nation of Washington State. As the grey whale came off the endangered species list in the 1990s, the Makah prepared to resume their traditional practice of whaling. They also have a treaty in which the U.S. promises to respect their right to whale. As the Makah prepared to whale, they received a tremendous racist and, really, colonialist backlash, including death threats. In this context, I spent a year developing a relationship with the tribe as well as with people involved in American Indian issues at the institution where I was teaching. The following year, I taught a course examining Indian rights and the racialized reaction to the Makah whaling. It involved meeting with members of the Whaling Commission, the Tribal Chair, elders, the teacher who oversaw the building of the canoe, some opponents of the whale hunt, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists and others. The meetings with the Makah took place during a field research trip on their Neah Bay reservation (on the most northwestern tip of the forty-eight continuous U.S. states). The issues were complex and fascinating, and I know it really changed many of my students lives. I taught the course twice.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of academia?

My singular favorite activity is dancing. I’ll dance to all kinds of music. I enjoy a form of modern dance called contact improvisation, where small numbers of people move together and explore movement, connection and creativity. It's challenging because of the other people involved—you never know what they are bringing. It makes me more aware of what I am bringing to a dance at any particular time.

Rachel VanSickle-Ward

Assistant Professor of Political Studies

Education: PhD, Political Science, University of California, Berkeley; MA, Political Science, University of California, Berkeley; BA, Political Studies and English, Pitzer College

Current Courses Taught: Introduction to Public Policy; Research Methods in Political Studies; California Politics; and Women in Politics

Research Interests: Public policy; American politics; California and state politics; women in politics; and constitutional law and legal politics

What is your proudest achievement in your career thus far?

Coming back to Pitzer.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of academia?

I am a pop culture junkie and enjoy live theater, movies and curling up with a good New Yorker article. I also love the outdoors and cheering on Sacramento and Bay Area sports teams

Emma Stephens

Assistant Professor of Economics

Education: PhD, Economics, Cornell University; MA, Economics, Cornell University; BSc, Physics, McGill University

Current Courses Taught: Principles of Macroeconomics and Development Economics

Research Interests: Welfare of subsistence farmers in developing countries; links between credit market frictions and small holder marketing patterns; impact of social networks on technology adoption; and income dynamics, economic history and simulation modeling

What is your proudest achievement in your career thus far?

In graduate school, I was heavily involved in an interdisciplinary project designed to address poverty among rural small holder farmers both from an economic and biophysical perspective. For my part, I participated in building a simulation model around this approach and was responsible for sharing the model with researchers in Kenya, where the project was based. I feel that we developed a sophisticated research tool that was also of great practical use for people in the field. I was proud to be part of a such a project that had these characteristics, which are sometimes difficult to achieve simultaneously in research on development.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of academia?

I like to cook, bike to work, travel and go to live sporting events, especially ice hockey (I am from Toronto).