Kaitlyn Rule ’19  |   Published October 26, 2016

New in sociology

Professor Jonathan Coley brings passion for social movements
  • Assistant sociology professor Jonathan Coley
Jonathan Coley says he was drawn to teach sociology at Monmouth College because of the school’s small college atmosphere.

“I thought there would be a lot of advantages at a smaller college compared to a large state school,” said Coley, who is an assistant sociology professor. “There, you have several hundred people in a class that you will never be able to get to know or see develop throughout their college career, unlike what happens at Monmouth.”

Coley said he is excited to interact with students and faculty. He said his colleagues were a great help before he even arrived on campus, reaching out to help him find a place to live. He’s also pleased that he’s made connections with faculty outside of his department.

This semester, Coley is teaching “Social Problems” and “Criminology.” In the spring he’ll teach the sociology and anthropology research methods course, “Social Movements” and another section of “Social Problems.” He is considering starting a social movement organization, possibly surrounding global hunger issues, once he gets to know the College more.

“I have strong interests in social movements, particularly movements for minority-group inclusion in conservative settings,” he said. “I am currently writing a book about LGBT student activism at Christian colleges and universities in the United States, and I am collaborating on research about civil rights activism in the Jim Crow South.”

Coley said he is also interested in social inequalities related to race, social class, gender and sexual orientation.

“Most people now agree that discrimination against minority groups is unacceptable, yet sociologists continue to document disparities in educational, employment, health and criminal justice outcomes,” he said. “I am interested in why social inequalities persist and in how people can band together to challenge these social inequalities and facilitate social change.”

Coley received his undergraduate political science degree from Samford (Ala.) University and his master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology from Vanderbilt University. He most recently worked in Memphis, Tenn.

“I am what many people would call a ‘political junkie,’” he said. “I began actively following politics when I was in the sixth grade, and when I went to college, I became a political science major. However, near the end of my time in college, I began taking sociology classes, and I found that sociology provided more of the in-depth analyses of social problems that had actually sparked my interest in politics in the first place. So I ultimately decided to pursue my Ph.D. in sociology.”

When Coley is not teaching, he enjoys following the upcoming election, going to live music shows and playing board games. Now that he’s closer, he also likes to travel to Chicago, where he can go to sociology conventions or just explore.

“I wanted to become a college professor in part because my own college professors had such an enormous influence on me,” he said. “It is safe to say I would not be where I am today if my own professors had not shown such care for both my academic and personal development. I hope that students will leave my classes not only with more knowledge about social problems and with improved critical thinking skills, but also with a passion to work to create a better world.”
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