The Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto has a diverse faculty of professors who have a wide range of experiences. While they share backgrounds in sociology and its intersecting disciplines, each faculty member has individual experiences that have shaped their academic careers. In this series, we interview faculty at the St. George campus to acknowledge and share these stories, and get to know the influences behind their journeys.
Professor Candace Kruttschnitt is a Professor of Sociology and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Her current research encompasses work on female offenders and comparative penology. In this interview, she discusses how criminology and sociology intersect in her work, and shares some insight from her teaching career.
How did you narrow down your areas of research and ultimately decide your field?
My field within Criminology focuses on women as offenders, victims and prison inmates. It all started with a tiny article in the New York Times that focused on increasing arrest rates for women. I found that fascinating and it ended up being the central question in PhD dissertation. Of course, then you start publishing from your dissertation and before you know it, that is your area of expertise.
What do you love about sociology?
As a Criminologist, what I love about sociology is the breadth of the field. If I am working on a paper that involves the mental health of prison inmates, I can talk to Blair Wheaton about what I should be reading. Or a few years ago, the British Journal of Sociology asked me to revise and resubmit an article and it over-lapped with some of the work on immigration. Not knowing this field, I went to Ron Levi for help. I love being surrounded by people who can teach me things and who enrich my knowledge base.
Do you have any stories about particularly positive experiences you have had teaching sociology to undergraduates?
I have had some great times teaching a fourth year seminar on punishment. You can see the students really open up over the course of the semester and share their experiences. I have learned a lot from the students in those courses.
What is one piece of advice you would give to students taking your classes and/or completing a major in sociology?
Do the best you can; it will always pay off. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions to challenge your instructor and take advantage of their office hours; they are there to help you.