• Teaching Philosophy

    When leaving the classroom, my students can critically analyze sociological processes influencing everyday life. I facilitate the cultivation of these skills by analyzing empirical examples during class and assigning independent qualitative field research. In my courses, I also use various forms of media, such as YouTube videos, articles, interviews, podcasts, and viral social media content, to illustrate how sociological concepts introduced through course readings emerge in empirical examples. After developing the skills in the classroom, I assign an ethnographic project which encourages students to observe situations in familiar environments to problematize the taken for granted and explain it anew from a sociological perspective.

    Teaching Evaluations Overview

    Introduction to Social Psychology Reviews

  • Introduction to Social Psychology

    The overarching goal of this course is to provide students with a working knowledge of social psychology and to stimulate an interest in ourselves, the world around us, and the connections between the two. This is a course about how we become who we are – how our selves are shaped by others, the groups we belong to, the social structures around us, and our interactions as social beings. Because interaction is a process between entities, a two-way street, the course is not only about how the world around us shapes who we are but also about the potential that we have to shape the world we live in.

    Course Syllabus:

    Van Ness, Justin. Introduction to Social Psychology. Fall 2016_Soc20722_2

  • Culture and Cognition

  • Microsociology

    Microsociology is concerned with human consciousness, agency, and social interaction. In this course, we will explore the intellectual history of the field of microsociology. Then we will dive deeply into social interaction, reviewing research on non-verbal communication, gestures, facial expressions, emotional displays, and the complexity of co-present interaction. We will then cover the study of emotions, cognition, conversation, motivation, the self. A wide range of audio and visual materials will be analyzed in class, including radio call-in shows, televised political debates, face-to-face violence, riots, and religious rituals.

    Course Syllabus:

    Van Ness, Justin. Microsociology. Course Syllabus.


  • Dystopian Sociology

    Social Problems: Yesterday, Today, and Into the Future

  • Sociological Theory

  • Cultural Sociology

  • Social Movements and Collective Behavior

    This course introduces students to the sociological study of collective behavior, social movements, and protest. Through these three venues we will discuss the mechanisms and processes which generate social, cultural, and political change. By analyzing the main theoretical traditions and concepts, students will answer questions such as what are social movements? Under what conditions do social movements emerge, thrive, and decline? Why do some people but not others participate in activism? How do social movements spread? What is the relationship between collective action and repression? In what ways does social media influence activism? We will also emphasize the microsociological processes of culture, emotions, and identity. We will cover important cases such as the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, the Klu Klux Klan, LGBTQ movement, and theWomen’s Movement, among others.

  • Social Control, Deviance, and Social Change

  • Sociology of Emotions

  • Qualitative Methods