The Department of Sociology congratulates Prof. Shamus Khan in receiving the American Sociological Association Charles Tilly Best Article Award for his article “How Cultural Capital Emerged in Gilded Age America: Musical Purification and Cross-Class Inclusion at the New York Philharmonic.“ American Journal of Sociology 123(6): 1743-83, co-authored with Fabien Accominotti and Adam Storer. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is the gravest public health crisis the United States has faced since the Influenza pandemic of 1918, but it will not be the last. Disaster research is often by necessity retrospective, providing accounts of past actions and ongoing recoveries. The temporal profile of the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity for social research in the middle of an unfolding crisis, providing contemporaneous insights into risk perception and sensemaking under duress, community and organizational resilience, transformations in social structure, and real time adaptations to severe economic and social dislocations. Concentrating on New York City, this study uses surveys, interviews, and written testimonials to create a contemporaneous record of the city’s battle with COVID-19 across the epidemic curve. New York is a critical site for understanding the course of this pandemic because it was an early epicenter of the disease in the U.S., because it has a robust municipal emergency management system with deep experience of past disasters health-related and otherwise, and because it is home to one of the nation’s strongest urban healthcare systems. We must rigorously document this emergency to better understand how it is unfolding, to better inform the recovery, and to learn lessons that will aid our fight against the next pandemic. This project does exactly that, by capturing a diversity of perspectives over the course of the pandemic, from its early stages to the time when it inevitably recedes.


Read full article here.

With the induction of the 2020 cohort, the AAPSS will have awarded 140 Fellowships in the 20 years that its Fellows program has existed. Most of the Academy’s Fellows are university-based scholars who have changed our understanding of human behavior and the world in which we live; others are public servants who have used scholarly research in government to improve the common good.

A New Approach to Preventing Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Why do campus sexual assaults happen? What should be done to prevent them? In their new book, Sexual Citizens (W. W. Norton & Company, Jan. 14, 2020), Columbia professors Jennifer Hirsch and Shamus Khan attempt to address these questions and offer a fresh way of thinking about this seemingly intractable problem.

President Bollinger Interviews the Authors

In this conversation with President Lee C. Bollinger, Hirsch, Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health, and Khan, Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of Sociology, discuss the methodology used to create the book and its genesis as part of the Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation (SHIFT) at Columbia.

Researchers Found What Consent Looks Like Isn't Always Straightforward on College Campuses

“Let's be real: You're here so you want this.”


Consent in college is a big topic. Much time has been spent on what consent looks like, who is and isn't getting it, and what happens when it's ignored. But no matter how many lessons young people get about consent during their first week of college, the ways in which they actually practice it can drastically differ from the ideal. In Sexual Citizens: A Landmark Study of Sex, Power, and Assault on Campusresearchers Jennifer S. Hirsch and Shamus Khan collected the findings of years of research on the sexual realities of college students. They found — among many other things — that college students often take factors that have nothing to do with consent to mean permission to have sex. In this excerpt of the book published by W.W. Norton & Company, researchers hear from a student who was assaulted after someone took her being in their room alone at night as consent, and explore how heavily consent weighs on students' minds.


Read full article here.


National Academy of Medicine Elects 100 New Members

Oct 21, 2019 | News

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) today announced the election of 90 regular members and 10 international members during its annual meeting. Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

Peter S. Bearman, Jonathan R. Cole Professor of the Social Sciences, Columbia University, New York City.  For being one of two original designers of the influential Adolescent Health Study, and making critically important discoveries concerning the influence of social networks on sexually transmitted disease and the rise of autism diagnoses.

Trust, Cooperation, and Collective Action in Diverse Communities

This project will investigate how people view and respond to racial/ethnic diversity in their communities. An underlying premise is that people may respond to diversity differently depending on the specific racial/ethnic groups that make up that diversity. The first part of the project will examine how people from different racial/ethnic backgrounds define diversity, followed by distinguishing heterogeneity from the share of non-Whites in a community. The second part asks whether and how people learn from past cross-racial interactions and become trusting toward strangers from different racial/ethnic backgrounds. The third part of this project studies neighborhoods in a large urban city where diversity functions well, i.e., where neighbors have repeatedly organized to achieve common goals, despite racial/ethnic differences between them. In this phase of the research, the project investigates the mechanisms, such as information sharing and sanctioning, that successfully promote cooperation between people from different backgrounds. The project will create a research practicum for advanced undergraduate students and graduate students that will focus on experimental research methods. The project will also continue and expand upon an ongoing initiative that has created an experimental design workshop. This workshop brings together experimental social scientists from across the university to exchange ideas and receive feedback on original experimental research. A final educational initiative will involve a weeklong summer school on the topic of experiments in the social sciences, which will be open to Ph.D. students from several local universities. The project will provide insights useful in formulating and implementing policies such as those concerning affirmative action, immigration and residential integration.

This project will first clarify the meaning of diversity and the burden-of-proof for documenting the effects of diversity. Second, it will analyze how members of racial/ethnic minority groups, not just Whites, react to diversity. Third, it will bring innovative experimental methods to bear on questions of longstanding sociological interest. To shed light on understandings of diversity, the first part of this project relies on a conjoint experiment with a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults, including strategic oversamples of non-Whites. A second part involves a public goods game where participants are assigned to heterogeneous groups, homogeneously White groups, or homogeneously non-White groups. The goal is to understand how people respond not just to diversity, but also to the share of specific racial/ethnic groups. The third part involves recruiting White and non-White residents of diverse and homogeneous urban neighborhoods. These participants will participate in an online survey with behavioral game components. The behavioral games capture altruism, trust, and cooperativeness toward both in-group and out-group members. They also allow the researcher to address social desirability bias, to observe real-stakes behavior, to disentangle micro-level motivations and mechanisms, and to clarify the scope conditions around hypotheses. Taken together, this project will bring clarity to the growing but inconclusive social scientific literature on racial/ethnic diversity, both by informing theories of diversity and by producing new empirical findings regarding intergroup relations in diverse communities.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Columbia University and the Obama Foundation are pleased to announce that the Columbia Center for Oral History Research has been selected to produce the official oral history of the presidency of Barack Obama (CC '83). This project will provide a comprehensive, enduring record of the decisions, actions, and effects of his historic terms in office. The University of Hawaiʻi and the University of Chicago will partner with Columbia in this project. The University of Hawaiʻi will focus on President Obama’s early life, and the University of Chicago will concentrate on the Obamas’ lives in Chicago.  

“The pride we feel in counting President Obama as an alumnus involves much more than the recognition of his time as a student here many years ago. This is a relationship built on shared values and interests that is producing public spirited projects of enormous, even transformative, potential at Columbia,” said Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger. “The latest venture will capitalize on the University’s unsurpassed talent for assembling oral history and will, I am sure, create an invaluable resource for understanding an historic presidency.”

A collaborative project of sociology MA students, Dispatches from the Field is a series of chapbooks designed to engage readers directly with qualitative research data. This year’s edition includes a series of reflections that refer to the American Dream, or rather, a set of differing American Dreams and their elusive promises. 

The aim of this lecture (and the edited volume from which it springs) is to show what Gulf cities can substantively teach: how world places connect to one another through new patterns of real estate investment, design, and human migration. 

Please join colleagues and friends of Prof. Priscilla P. Ferguson  to celebrate her life and scholarship. 

Hosted by the NYU Department of Nutrition and Food Studies

Multimedia artist Umberto Crenca is the founding artistic director of AS220, a nonprofit arts organization that serves as a national model for arts and culture-based community building and urban renewal. Crenca will provide an overview of the success and relevance of AS220 and will discuss his “compost theory” of arts and culture: a means to an end or a means to a means? This theory is about creating nurturing environments that create opportunities where anyone can realize their full creative potential without trying to predict outcomes.