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Jennifer Rothchild

Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology
Award Year: 
2011

Rothchild was selected for being “an extraordinary teacher whose rigor, dedication, and passionate commitment to her field has transformed the lives of students and colleagues on this campus.” As stated by Cheryl Contant, vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean, “Jennifer Rothchild is an outstanding teacher, mentor, and adviser who brings the classroom to life with her own personal engagement in issues from local to global. Her curious mind and her high demands of students bring out the best in them and in her. With this award, she joins an outstanding group of committed and talented faculty who care deeply about their role in helping students learn and stay engaged in learning throughout their lives.”

“Incredibly honored” to be a recipient of this award, Rothchild says she is “humbled to be selected among a group of such exemplary teachers at UMM” and thanks her family for encouraging great respect for education, particularly the power and value of teaching.

Nominators commended Rothchild as someone for whom “research, teaching, and service are deeply intertwined,” citing her “groundbreaking research on girls’ schooling in Nepal [that] is rooted in her sociological interest in gender and education” and detailed in her book, Gender Trouble Makers: Education and Empowerment in Nepal. She has refined these interests as discipline coordinator of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies (GWSS) and shares them in her course offerings, which include Sociology of the Environment and Social Development, Sociology of Childhoods, Sociology of Gender and Sexuality, Sociology of Deviance, and Introduction to Women’s Studies.

Rothchild’s educational philosophy clears a path for her to “enjoy teaching sociology because it can fundamentally alter the way you perceive the world. C. Wright Mills developed a concept called the ‘sociological imagination’,” she clarifies, “which isn’t a thing so much as it is a habit of mind, a determination to see the world from multiple perspectives all at once. As a student practices her or his ‘sociological imagination,’ she or he learns not only to think critically about social behavior but also acquires an important capacity for empathy and taking action for social change. In this way, the ‘sociological imagination’ becomes an important tool for seeing the structures that influence our behavior as well as a challenge to imagine solutions for solving the world’s most difficult problems.”

Known for involving undergraduates in research, Rothchild is a strong advocate of service learning and the circumstances it presents for going beyond abstractions and into the “real world” to illustrate sociological concepts, terms, and theories, often resulting in permanent curricular innovations. Incorporating service learning into several of her courses, Rothchild trains students to conduct community-based action research projects of their own design.

Rothchild earned a bachelor of arts in zoology from Miami University of Ohio, a master of science in sociology from Georgia State University, and a doctorate in sociology from American University. In addition to her book, she has also authored several chapters in theHandbook on Service Learning in Women’s Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, and the Disciplines.

Jennifer Rothchild