Meet the Professor: Christian Caron

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 Christian Caron is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. He is well-known for his excellent teaching and currently serves as the Associate Chair of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Toronto, St. George. He has particular research interests related to the Sociology of Crime and Socio-Legal Studies.

What led you to pursue a career in sociology?

I had long wanted to be a teacher. After spending time pursuing various other post-secondary degrees (history, philosophy, psychology), sociology felt “right.” It felt at the intersection of all my existing interests, and showed me the connections between all the different aspects of my life. It was a great source of personal insight, where I felt like I understood more and more about myself. But more than that, it opened my eyes to a whole world that was around me but I had either taken for granted or not noticed yet. It felt like I became awake. This was due to meeting the right professors at the right time who inspired me and push me to think and see the world in these novel ways. The more I learned about sociology the more it felt like a calling I needed to pursue. So combining my new found love of sociology with my long-standing interest in teaching made a career in sociology the right fit for me.

How does being a sociologist affect other parts of your life (if any)?

Being a sociologist is partly about seeing the world through a particular set of lenses, so it impacts every facet of my life. It’s given me extra insights into my roles as son, brother, friend, colleague, teacher, husband, father, and many others. I carry with me an appreciation for the importance of context, of seeing the link between my experiences and the experiences of many others, and caring about understanding those with whom I cross paths. Being a sociologist is not what I do, it is who I am.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students taking your classes and/or completing a major in sociology?

Use your time as a sociology major to both develop useful skills that you can take with you in the pursuit of almost any career (such as quantitative and qualitative research skills, critical thinking skills, writing skills, communication skills) AND to explore, learn, and expand your understanding on topics and issues that you are most passionate about. Your sociology major is a great time to engage in both skills building and exploration, in ways that will benefit you greatly for whatever might come next.

Professor Christian Caron’s teaching highlighted in U of T News

Professor Christian Caron teaches SOC101 in Convocation Hall every year. This year, as part of the Series “Inside Con Hall, U of T News caught up with Professor Caron and interviewed him about his experience lecturing in the iconic U of T building. You can read the entire article online here. We have pasted an excerpt below.

Innovations in teaching: Inside Con Hall with Christian Caron

“I was scared, to be quite honest”
Photo of Christian Caron lecturing in Con Hall
All photos by Johnny Guatto
In just a few weeks, Convocation Hall will begin hosting graduation ceremonies for an expected 13,500 University of Toronto students. 

But during the school year Con Hall also serves as the largest classroom at the largest university in Canada. 

So what’s it really like to learn in a room with 1,500 fellow students? And what’s it like to teach in that famous rotunda?

In this series, U of T News student reporter Krisha Ravikantharaja goes Inside Con Hall to see why some of U of T’s most popular professors and classes can be found under the dome.

“When you start out, it’s a room full of strangers,” Christian Caron says.

A really big room. Filled with about 1,500 strangers.

When Caron began teaching Introduction to Sociology (SOC101Y1) in Convocation Hall he says the prospect of such a large class and such a huge space was frightening.

“I had taught classes of 400 or 450 students before teaching in Con Hall, but there’s something different about the size,” Caron says. “I feel very comfortable with public speaking, but something about being in Con Hall brought back the nerves, the fright, the ‘oh my gosh, I’m not prepared,’ the butterflies that I used to have back in high school. I was scared, to be quite honest.”

Read the full article