Saluki Pride: Jessica Crowe goes beyond the classroom to teach sociology

Jessica Crowe, associate professor of sociology, is an innovative teacher and an influential researcher and author. In fact, Crowe and SIU colleagues received $1.7 million from the National Science Foundation’s S-STEM program for the Upper Delta Region Biodiversity Scholarship Program, to provide educational opportunities in biological sciences for students, particularly those from underrepresented groups.

“Dr. Crowe’s revamping of the sociology senior seminar class to a hands-on research experience is one example of her innovative approach to teaching that offered students something beyond the normal classroom experience and demonstrates her dedication to the undergraduate experience,” said William Danaher, professor and chair of the Department of Sociology. He noted that she secured a departmental grant to pay the costs for the students to travel to the Midwest Sociological Society conference where they presented research posters. 

Get to know Jessica Crowe

  • Name: Jessica Crowe
  • Department and job title: Department of Sociology, associate professor of sociology
  •  Years at SIU Carbondale:  7

Give us the elevator pitch for your job.

I teach courses in the Department of Sociology in one of three areas: environment and society, racial and ethnic relations in the United States and research methods. I also do research in these three areas. Over the years, my research has led me to collect survey data on more than 900 communities in all regions of the U.S. and in-depth qualitative data on 20 communities. For these 900 communities, I have data on economic development strategies, zoning issues, environmental regulations, community capital (social, physical, natural, cultural, human), racial histories, community sentiment and perceptions about energy sources. My latest research focuses on how a community’s land history influences perceptions of energy sources and how framing and elite cues affect support of sustainable energy policy. I also have been involved in two grants tailored to increasing student research. For these grants, I have evaluated the effectiveness of the program in increasing student research output, satisfaction, retention in the major, communication with faculty and other students and levels of activeness in the major.  

What is your favorite part of your job? 

This is a hard question to answer, because I enjoy most aspects of my job, from research and teaching to service work. A couple of things that pop out are being able to teach graduate-level courses, as well as to be involved with interdisciplinary team grant writing. I also have been able to work with academics from a variety of schools and departments on interdisciplinary research. This was harder to do at my other places of employment. 

Why did you choose SIU? 

SIU is the third university I have worked at after earning my Ph.D. in sociology. I grew up in central Illinois and had friends that attended SIU. I would go visit them and remembered really liking Carbondale and the area. Being close to all of my family is also a plus. Finally, I really wanted to be at a research university where I would have more time to work on my research. I think SIU is a great fit for me.

What was your first car, and would you like to have it once again if you could? Why or why not? 

When I was in high school, I had a brown Dodge Ram truck. Not only was it the ugliest thing you ever saw, but it barely ran. It didn’t have anything in the inside. Seriously – no heat or air conditioning, no radio, no power steering. About a quarter of the time, I would have to pop the hood and jiggle some wires around to get it to start. It was kind of embarrassing when it would stall at a stop sign (it was a manual 4-speed), and I would have to get out and pop the hood to get it to start. There was also some hay in the bed of the truck that had tall grass growing out of it. I never bothered to clear it. My friends called the truck the “toolbox” because it looked like it was made from tools you could find in a toolbox. Would I like to have it once again? There were a lot of fond memories made in that truck, but I think I’ll pass.

What one word best describes you and why? 

“Unexpected.” Many people tell me that they had certain ideas about me or assumptions about me that were completely wrong after knowing me for some time. Perhaps two of my favorite compliments were both backward compliments. My old chairperson once told me “You know, you are actually quite nice once a person gets to know you.”  I also had a student once share with me on the last day of class that he thought he was going to hate the class but it ended up being one of his favorites during his four years in college.

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