Professor Rachel La Touche featured by Faculty of Arts and Science as a Rising Star

Rachel La ToucheThe Faculty of Arts and Science News recently profiled Professor Rachel La Touche in their series on “Rising Stars.” Professor La Touche joined the Department of Sociology in the fall of 2016. Her research looks at racial and gender biases in higher education. The following is an excerpt of the longer article that is available here.

OkCupid is just one of the teaching tools in new sociologist’s kit

March 1, 2017

By : A&S News Staff

Sociology professor Rachel La Touche’s research explores inequality and how it manifests in people’s everyday interactions.

Rachel La Touche may be in the early stages of her university career, but her willingness to take risks in the interests of learning has already garnered her several teaching awards.

A new assistant professor in U of T’s Department of Sociology, La Touche was recently recruited from Indiana University in Bloomington, where she received the Lieber Memorial Teaching Associate Award for outstanding teaching by a graduate student.

Part of her success is in departing from the “sage on the stage” stereotype of the university lecture. “Research shows that lecturing doesn’t lend itself to the type of deep learning, critical thinking and application skills that many instructors — like myself — hope to instill in students,” says La Touche.

“While I don’t think it’s always necessary to reinvent the wheel, there are some topics and learning processes that require more creative techniques than merely lecturing from PowerPoint slides.”

Making course material relevant to students is a must

Making sure that material is relevant to students is key. One way La Touche achieves this is by bridging sociological theory with real-world situations. For example, students in her Logic of Social Inquiry class use the popular dating site OkCupid to test research questions about how socio-demographic traits — such as age, sex, and race — influence dating outcomes.

“To be blunt, the OkCupid project answers the ‘who cares?’ question that so many undergraduates have when instructors are lecturing about particular issues,” says LaTouche.

“It lets students conduct hands-on research on a topic that interests them and that many have experience with personally.” And while dating outcomes may seem like a “lightweight” consequence, the students quickly gain a sense of how the same socio-demographic characteristics that influence dating outcomes can influence other reward opportunities and life chances.

Read the full article here.

Welcome New Faculty

This year the Department of Sociology welcomes ten new faculty members into our community of scholars. This is the largest cohort of new faculty members we have seen in decades. They cover research and teaching interests ranging from classical theory to criminology and immigration studies and will help shape the character of the department in the years to come. Though housed across the three campuses, all faculty join together in contributing to the tri-campus graduate department.

Professor Ellen Berrey joins the faculty at the University of Toronto, Mississauga teaching in the area of Law and Society. She graduated with a PhD in Sociology from Northwestern University in 2008 and has previously taught at the University at Buffalo, SUNY and at the University of Denver.

Professor Irene Boeckmann is a new faculty member in Family and Demography, teaching at the St. George campus. Professor Boeckmann completed her PhD at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2014 and spent 2015 as a post-doctoral fellow at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center in Germany.

Professor Emine Fidan Elcioglu brings her expertise in political sociology and immigration to the University of Toronto at Scarborough. Professor Elcioglu received her doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley in 2016.

Professor Steve G. Hoffman received his PhD at Northwestern University in 2009 and taught for several years at the University at Buffalo, SUNY before coming to the University of Toronto at Mississauga. Professor Hoffman teaches in the area of social theory and the sociology of disaster.

Professor Rachel La Touche comes to the University of Toronto at St George this year where she is teaching in the areas of research methods and inequality. She received her PhD from Indiana University-Bloomington in 2016 and has previously taught at the University of Mannheim-Germany and at the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research(ICPSR) Summer Program at the University ofMichigan.

Professor Yoonkyung Lee joins the faculty at the University of Toronto, St. George. Professor Lee received her PhD at Duke University in 2006 and has previously taught at Binghamton University. Professor Lee is a political sociologist with a focus on Korean studies.

Professor Sida Liu is a new faculty member at the University of Toronto, Mississauga. Professor Liu is a specialist in the sociology of law. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 2009. Before coming to Toronto, Professor Liu taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also currently a Faculty Fellow at the American Bar Foundation and a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah received his doctorate in 2014 from the Centre for Criminology and Socio-legal Studies here at the University of Toronto, Mississauga. Before coming back to Toronto, Professor Owusu-Bempah taught for a year at the Indiana University, Bloomington. Professor Owusu-Bempah is a specialist in policing and race.

Professor Kim Pernell comes to the University of Toronto, St. George with expertise in economic sociology, organizational sociology and social policy. Professor Pernell received a PhD in Sociology from Harvard in 2016.

Professor Ashley Rubin joins the faculty at the University of Toronto, Mississauga bringing expertise in the sociology of punishment and prisons. Professor Rubin received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 2013 and previously taught at Florida State University.