Assistant professor of sociology, Brian Thomas loves teaching sociology --- to majors and non-majors alike. Professor Thomas thinks that once students are exposed to the subject and to the work of sociologists, they often realize how useful it can be to having a fundamental understanding of how people interact and how society is structured. "I was drawn to sociology because it provided me with a useful scientific lens through which to interpret a wide variety of issues, from environmental problems to workplace dynamics."
Professor Thomas is so passionate about environmental issues that he helped co-found the Green Cardinal Initiative, a group of faculty, students and staff dedicated to a more sustainable future. And, he will be leading an environmental-based Study Abroad trip to China in 2010.
When asked about his teaching philosophy, Professor Thomas quickly responded that he believes in "engaged learning." "I like to develop projects that take students out of the classroom, both in-person as with my community food projects, or virtually, as when I taught Global Cultures over the Internet from China. Even in the classroom, my preference is to create an environment that facilitates student discussion and critical thinking related to real world issues." Thomas adds, "my approach to teaching hinges less on the memorization and more on the development of skills that allow students to intelligently access and critically evaluate the information before them."
For fun (?), Thomas runs ultramarathons (distances over 26.2 miles); you'll often see him doing his routine runs with his three-year-old son and nine-year-old border collie in tow. He loves to hike and camp and as a brave and daring soul, he has eaten raw snake skin, duck tongues and live shrimp.