Departmental Lectures, 2009-2010

In a university where faculty and grad students are pulled in so many different directions, it can be quite difficult to sustain a departmental intellectual community. One way Community and Environmental Sociology has sought to do this and also to simply provide a forum in which faculty can share their research with others in the department is through our twice yearly departmental lectures. Once each semester we gather, often on a Friday afternoon, to hear about one of our colleagues current projects. After the talk and time for group discussion, we adjourn to the library for more informal discussion, some snacks, and wine and beer.

This year we had two stimulating talks. Here’s a taste of what those who were able to attend heard:

Fall 2009:

Katherine Curtis. “Return Migration and Racial Inequality in Poverty among Southern Households.”

Curtis explored how the Return Migration has altered one important and distinguishing element of the southern landscape: poverty. She examined the likelihood of living in poverty at the intersection of migration and race with theoretical focus on the motivations of migration and the accompanying economic outcomes for southern households. Curtis finds the likelihood of living in poverty and the racial gap in poverty decreased for all southern households between 1970 and 2000, yet significant differences persisted by race, and central to the research question, migrant status. Households that returned to their state of birth-“homeward bound” migrants-had higher odds of living in poverty than all other migrant households. Findings show racial differences in migration patterns substantially shaped the overall trend in racial inequality in southern poverty.

Spring 2010:

Jess Gilbert. “Planning Democracy: Agrarian Intellectuals and the Intended New Deal in Agriculture.”

In his talk, Gilbert explored planning during the 1930s. Late in the New Deal, leaders of the U. S. Department of Agriculture initiated something new in American history: a national network of local planning organizations made up of citizens (farmers), public administrators, and scientists intent on shaping agricultural policy. Called the county land-use planning program, its impacts were largely local; Greene County, Georgia, exemplified what the effort could accomplish. The network of planning committees put forward a national report in 1941 that represented an agrarian social-democratic sentiment throughout much of the countryside. However, the initiative was cut short in 1942 by an anti-New Deal Congress and other enemies of democratic planning.

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