Dear alumni, colleagues and friends,
It is with heavy hearts that I must announce several cancellations that folks were undoubtedly looking forward to. Many of you already learned that the Pacific Sociological Association (PSA) decided to cancel their annual meeting in Eugene (https://www.pacificsoc.org/2020-conference-information). Acknowledging our collective role in stemming the rate of infection of a new and deadly virus was the responsible thing for PSA to do to protect our communities, especially those most vulnerable to the effects of COVID19. In the same spirit, we have decided to cancel our departmental events celebrating 125 years of UO Sociology. This includes our alumni reception at Ninkasi scheduled for Saturday, March 28th and our Alumni-Student Networking Dinner for March 29th (https://sociology.uoregon.edu/student-alumni-networking/).
So many of you responded to our call to join us here in Eugene for not only what was sure to be an amazing PSA meeting, but to also commemorate and celebrate 125 Years of UO Sociology (https://sociology.uoregon.edu/legacies-in-critical-sociology/). You signed up for our reception at Ninkasi Brewing (a special thanks to Jamie Floyd, co-founder of Ninkasi and UO SOC alumni), but also to our Student and Alumni Dinner. Many of you sent updates on your life since graduating from UO Sociology. Some of you sent personal notes and updates that kindled memories or kindly corrected errors on our timeline. You responded with donations to our excellent program and to our new Graduate Student Research Award in Critical Sociology. You responded sincerely, generously and thoughtfully. For all of this, I thank you on behalf of everyone here at the UO Department of Sociology. I am truly sorry we do not get to celebrate in person, but I thank you for participating in the sentiment and the intention.
Please stay in touch. We hope to re-schedule an alumni and student event in June or the Fall. We will keep you posted on those details.
Michael Dreiling, Professor & Department Head
Department of Sociology
University of Oregon
Congratulations to all our winners of Fall Graduate School awards!
“The Graduate School administers a range of fellowships and research awards annually. These awards, most of which are donor supported, range from $500 to $20,000 per year and, in some cases, include tuition support.”
In addition to cash, these awards confer recognition of the dedication and success of our graduate students, and we couldn’t be more proud to call them members of our department. Below are a list of award winners and descriptions of their awards.
First Year Fellowship – Bex MacFife
The purpose of a First Year Fellowship is to recruit talented top graduate students to doctoral programs. This award ensures a full year of graduate school funding to allow these students to use their first year at UO to make headway on their research and academic activities.
Betty Foster McCue Fellowship – Katie Warden & Diego Contreras Medrano
In honor of the lifetime of teaching and administrative service by Professor Emerita Betty Foster McCue, this award supports doctoral students with interests related to human development and performance. Winners of this award are students with dissertation interests that primarily revolve around topics related to human development and performance. Related fields include but are not limited to Counseling Psychology, Human Physiology, Special Education, Education, Sociology, Human Biology, and Psychology.
UO Doctoral Research Fellowship – Sarah Ahmed
For students in any UO PhD program, this fellowship is awarded to the most outstanding doctoral student as determined by a faculty selection committee. Dissertations to be considered can be on any topic and are judged on the quality of the written proposal and the potential impact of the research both within and beyond the student’s field.
Kimble First Year Teaching Award – Ashley Woody
The Kimble First-Year Teaching Award, named in honor of professor emeritus Dan Kimble, is jointly sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Graduate School, and the Division of Undergraduate Studies, and administered by the Teaching Engagement Program. The award recognizes outstanding teaching by graduate student instructors who have demonstrated a commitment to professional development and reflective practice.
Sandra Morgen Public Impact Graduate Fellowship – Lola Loustaunau
The purpose of this fellowship (formally known as the UO Public Impact Fellowship) award is to recognize and support the work of up to two graduate students whose research has the potential to have a significant impact on society. Examples of relevant research include that which makes a contribution to improving economic opportunity and well-being, social justice, political participation, cultural engagement, and scientific and technical solutions to pressing social issues.
Promising Scholar Award – Timothy Haverda and Christine Capili
The purpose of the Promising Scholar Award is to recruit highly qualified incoming graduate students from diverse backgrounds who add to the academic and scholarly excellence of the university. The award is administered by the Graduate School in partnership with departments, schools and colleges, the Office of the Vice President for Research & Innovation, the Division of Equity and Inclusion, and the Office of the Provost to leverage our collective resources in support of our shared goals to increase the number of outstanding UO graduate students of diverse backgrounds and experiences.
While in Tokyo, Japan working on his next documentary project on peace movements and the contested Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, Dr. Michael Dreiling was invited to Senshu University to give a lecture and screen his first feature-length documentary, A Bold Peace. This event was the first presentation at Senshu’s new Institute of Humanities and drew an eager crowd of 70 university patrons including faculty, students, and other interested Tokyo-ites.
Read more at: https://www.senshu-u.ac.jp/news/20190610-03.html (Japanese only)
Professor John Bellamy Foster was selected for the 2019 Outstanding Career Award at the University of Oregon. This award powerfully acknowledges John’s outstanding career and highlights the important work done in Sociology. As stated in the announcement letter from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, “this is the UO’s highest university award for faculty to recognize and celebrate a deep and distinguished record of scholarship and research on our campus.”
Over the last 35 years, Professor Foster has made numerous contributions to Marxist theory and its application to contemporary capitalism and he has made distinguished strides in growing the field of environmental sociology by introducing classical social theory to interdisciplinary environmental studies. International recognition of his work has made UO Sociology one of the top departments in the country for studying environmental sociology.
The impact of his work is measurable, in part, by his extraordinary citation record. According to Google Scholar, with nearly 22,000 citations, he is one of the 10-15 most cited current faculty members at the University of Oregon. He is the most highly cited sociologist at the UO and is one of the most highly cited among those on Google Scholar in his fields. His writings have been translated into at least thirty-three languages. He presents his work at a wide range of conferences world-wide, including many international keynote addresses. Guided by his mentorship, many of his former graduate students enjoy productive and accomplished careers.
Congratulations John! We are deeply grateful for all of your contributions across your many years of outstanding service, teaching and research.
The first time UO sociologist Eileen Otis walked into a Walmart, she was far from home—Kunming, China, to be exact. She was immediately struck by how greatly the Chinese version of the massive retailer differed from its American counterpart.
For starters, she was surrounded by a vast array of fresh local foods, including aquamarine tanks full of turtles and other sea life, open vats of fresh whole fish, and large barrels brimming with great varieties of rice—inventory she wouldn’t expect to find on the shelves in America.
Then there was the store’s location in Kunming, the modern capital city and transportation hub of China’s southern Yunnan province. The Walmart was integrated into a shopping mall, instead of a stand-alone “box” store like Walmarts on US soil. The marketing appeared to target middle-class shoppers rather than lower-income ones, because Walmart is unable to compete with prices set by locally owned discount stores in China, says Otis.
But most interesting to Otis was the composition of the store’s workforce. Dozens of energetic vendors, all hawking different products, crowded the main floor. She describes the scene as reminiscent of the sample carts scattered through the aisles at Costco, except with dozens more vendors. She discovered that, unlike Costco, the sales agents were employed by different companies—none of them Walmart—to drive sales of everything from shampoo to cosmetics to holiday decorations.
The firms that sell products in Walmart hire and dispatch sales workers to the store’s aisles and the sales floors of other big retailers. The firms pay Walmart a nominal sum to accept their promoters. Their supervision is the responsibility of department managers—many of whom are overworked, with little time to oversee the sales agents.
Read more about Dr. Otis’ work on Around the O.
Jenna Lilley, a UO Sociology major and honors program participant, has been featured in the Register-Guard for her amazing accomplishments as a student athlete. She’s a stellar softball player and even made the US Olympic team! We couldn’t be more proud to call her one of our own.
Professor Jill Harrison was quoted in a March 2018 Washington Post article about the social and economic implications of recent changes in trade policy. Harrison, an expert on de-industrialization argues that reactions to these new economic tariffs can not be fully understood without considering how manufacturing remains core to rust belt identities. You can read the full article here:
Dear UO Sociology Friends and Colleagues,
It is with much sadness and outrage that we must share the news that UO 1991 PhD Kavous Seyed-Emami died in an Iranian prison under suspicious circumstances. He was an accomplished and internationally acclaimed environmental activist. We are joining his family in demanding an autopsy and information about the circumstances of his death. We provide here links to some early articles about his death. Our hearts are with his family and close friends right now. The world has lost an important activist for environmental and human rights.
New York Times: “Death by Hanging in Tehran”
New York Times: “Forced Confessions in Iran’s House of the Dead”
1954 – 2018
Kavous Seyed-Emami, a professor at Immam Sadiq University in Teheran and an environmentalist, was taken into custody by the Iranian Security Forces on January 24, 2018. After less than three weeks in custody at Teheran’s infamous Evan Prison Kavous’ family was notified that he had “committed suicide” while in prison and was deceased.Kavous was born in Iran in 1954 and was raised in a very privileged environment. As a young man he went on lengthy hunting and fishing trips with his family, in what was at the time, a feudal social system in Iran. Village residents where the trips took place were not allowed to hunt or fish; all wildlife belonged to the wealthy families of Iran. When Kavous was taken on these hunting trips, the villagers and residents became the porters and guides for the hunt. Kavous was deeply moved by the wildlife and animals he saw and hunted on these trips. It was a time of wildlife abundance in Iran since there was little development and little or no hunting. Kavous developed an early love for both the land and the wildlife of Iran. He was also deeply moved and affected by the beauty of village life and the honesty and simplicity of village residents. He became, at a young age, a committed equalitarian and environmentalist.
Graduating from high school, Kavous attended University in the United States where he received an undergraduate degree and two masters degrees in the 1970s. At the end of the 1970s, Kavous returned to Iran and took part in the student uprisings that ended the U.S. sponsored regime of the Shah. He took part in the liberation of government buildings in Teheran and was one of the students that liberated the Savak prisons and torture chambers. It was a horrific experience to see what had been done in these prisons and this sight affected Kavous for the rest of his life.
Following his days as a student activist, Kavous was a machine gunner in the Iran Army during the first years of the Iran/Iraq war. Wounded, he was evacuated to a hospital for treatment. During his absence, his entire combat unit was killed, making Kavous the sole survivor of that unit. He would retain a fear and horror of military weapons for the rest of his life.
Kavous enrolled at the University of Oregon in 1984 in order to obtain a PhD. During this time, he returned to Iran many times and witnessed the destruction of Iranian wildlife as military weapons and military units proliferated in Iran. These units and weapons were used to destroy the animals that Kavous loved as he grew up. He was horrified to see this utter destruction. While in Oregon, however, Kavous continued to develop his love of the outdoors and wildlife. He explored Oregon’s wild places and was an avid camper, hiker, hunter, and fisherman and was joined by friends and fellow graduate students. Kavous also brought his family, Maryam, his wife, and his two sons Ramen and Myram, to Eugene.
Upon receiving his PhD in 1991 from the University of Oregon Department of Sociology, Kavous returned to Teheran and began teaching at Immam Sadiq University, an establishment and conservative University in Iran. He taught at Immam Sadiq for over two decades. Kavous felt that his duty was to bring an awareness of and love of Iran’s wilderness and wildlife to a generation of Iranians. He believed firmly that this would promote the preservation of these elements of Iranian experience. He founded and became an executive director of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation and focused on many projects including the preservation of the Asian Cheetah. There are only 50 Asian Cheetahs left in Iran and they are a revered animal. He also, at this time, helped sponsor photo/art work exhibits by Iranian artists emphasizing wildlife conservation that traveled the world. He became Iran’s foremost exponent of conservation and the value of wild places and wildlife. At this time in Iran, Kavous led large hiking groups and campers in the exploration of many wild areas of Iran. Those who experienced these adventures termed them “life changing.”
Kavous received a sabbatical and was resident in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, during the Fall and early Winter of 2017-2018 and continued his communication with his many friends in Oregon. He was unable, unfortunately, to succeed in a planned visit to Eugene in December but was able to communicate with many.
This obituary would be remiss if it did not point out that the assertion that Kavous committed suicide in prison is absurd and infuriating. Pressure has been put on his family to avoid an autopsy to determine the actual cause of death. Claims by his captors are not believed by anyone who knew Kavous at any time in his life.
On the contrary, Kavous will always be remembered by his many friends around the world as an incredibly kind and gentle man whose concern about the natural world was profound, deep, sincere and moving. He lived a simple life, in keeping with his concerns, and his service to humanity and the natural world were exemplary. He will always be remembered with deep and abiding love.
A Celebration of life will be held Feb. 24th 2-4pm at Gerlinger Lounge at the UofO.
President, American Sociological Association
Kavous Seyed-Emami, 63, an Iranian-Canadian professor, who received his PhD in sociology from the University of Oregon, and who was to become one of Iran’s foremost environmentalists, died in Tehran’s Evin prison under suspicious circumstances on February 9, 2018. He was taken into custody along with other environmentalists around two weeks before, on January 24, 2018, and confined in Tehran’s Evin prison on charges of “espionage,” associated with the Iranian government’s current attempt to suppress civil dissent in response to recent protests. On February 9, his wife was notified that he had committed “suicide” while in custody and was deceased. According to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, he is the third leading activist to die in prison under similar suspicious circumstances in the last few weeks. Seyed-Emami’s family and environmental and human rights worldwide are calling for an independent autopsy and an international human rights investigation into the causes of his death.
Seyed-Emami, who had dual citizenship in Iran and Canada, received his PhD from the University of Oregon Department of Sociology in 1991. Upon completion of his dissertation he returned to Iran and taught Sociology and, particularly, Environmental Sociology at Immam Sadiq University, a major university in Tehran. He was the founder and managing director of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation and one of the most famous and respected environmentalists in Iran. His life-long goal was to introduce Iranians to the natural world and its preservation. One of his most important projects was the conservation of the Asian Cheetah, an animal revered in Iran.
In our view as in the view of so many others around the world who knew him, it is simply impossible that Seyd-Emami could have committed suicide. The Iranian authorities have resisted requests for an independent autopsy. This has only heightened widespread suspicions that he was murdered to stop him from pursuing his conservation projects and as an attempt to intimidate the environmental movement and civil society movements more generally in Iran.
The Department of Sociology, faculty, students as well as former students, former faculty and graduate students demand that the Iranian authorities allow an independent autopsy. The causes of his death should be subjected to a full international human rights investigation. We request that the American Sociological Association write to the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. State Department insisting that they lodge direct protests with the Iranian government calling for an international human rights investigation.
Ellen K. Scott
Head, Department of Sociology
CC: Executive Office, American Sociological Association
Canadian Sociological Association
American Association of University Professors
Chris Sinclair, President, University of Oregon Senate
Michael Schill, President, University of Oregon