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Sociology

Kirk Johnson

Kirk JohnsonBackground

Throughout the course of my career my primary instructional interests have been in the fields of theoretical criminology, the social construction of law, organizations, and research methods. Since joining the department in 1997 as chair I have carried a half-time instructional load and have limited my course offerings to: Criminology, Juvenile Delinquency, Law and Society, Organizations, Deviance, and Social Problems. In prior positions I taught undergraduate and graduate Research Methods, Social Inequality, Culture and Personality, Societal Reactions to Deviance, Introduction to Sociology, Introduction to Criminal Justice Studies, Corrections, and Community Corrections.

My instructional approach is guided by a presentation of sociology applicable to students' everyday lives. By placing an emphasis on the practical utility and application of sociological knowledge I attempt to foster critical thinking skills. The goal is to encourage students to look beyond outward appearances and overly simplistic common-sense understandings to reveal the historical roots, causes and consequences of social phenomena.

My traditional academic research interests have focused on the testing and extension of social control theory, the social construction of deviance among adolescents, criminal victimization, and the social construction of law and criminal sanctions. While I was primarily trained in quantitative survey research methods, over time I became increasingly focused on applied sociology and visualize this as my stronger suit. I have devoted more time and energy in research projects designed to assist community, governmental and business organizations in the development and implementation of policies, programs and goals than I have on traditional academic research pursuits. While I certainly believe students need to be exposed to the rich tradition of theoretical sociology and academic research findings, I also recognize that there has been increased pressure placed on undergraduate departments to provide students with marketable skills.

Faculty involvement in applied research projects serves as a vital link between the educational process (it serves as a foundation for undergraduate research projects) and the world of work for our students (we serve as active role models in the types of employment our students are most likely to attain and often become a conduit for information about impending job vacancies). My applied activities have been quite eclectic-projects have ranged from working with community service agencies concerned adolescent life, culture and service provision, to projects designed to increase voter participation, to my current project with a state agency studying attitudes and practices associated with agricultural water metering.

Recent Publications and Applied Research

High Risk Behavior among Gay Adolescents: Implications for Treatment and Support, with C. Johnson, Adolescence, vol. 35, no. 140, Winter 2000

Informal Control Networks and Adolescent Orientations Toward Alcohol Use, Tanglewood Research-Prevention Knowledge Base, 1999/2000 (with auto update to current year 2005) www.tanglewood.net/services/knowledgebase/60.htm

Washington Ground Water and Irrigation Survey, 2005-2006