Skip to main content

Lori G. Waite

Professor of Sociology; Chair of the General Education Department (423) 746-5239

Sociology is an exciting academic discipline! It is a privilege to work as a professional Sociologist. Yet, my journey to Sociology as a profession was quite fortuitous. While completing my undergraduate degree in Communications from the University of Tennessee Knoxville, one of my professors strongly encouraged me to pursue graduate studies. I was somewhat intimidated at the thought of graduate school. As a 32-year old nontraditional student I felt that I should probably get back to the “real world” of work as quickly as possible.  But the professor encouraged me to take the Graduate Records Exam (GRE). My scores were quite competitive. I applied to The Ohio State University where I earned two masters degrees; the first one was in Black Studies and the second Master’s degree was in Political Science. One of my favorite graduate professors at Ohio State noticed that I was interested in social movements. At the time I wanted to study the emerging environmental justice movement. A Sociologist herself, the professor encouraged me to consider a Ph.D. in Sociology.

Unlike some graduate programs, Sociology is a broad-based liberal arts discipline. As my professor said, “almost anything in the social world can be studied sociologically.” I was accepted into the Ph.D. program in Sociology at Northwestern University where I was fortunate to work with well-known Sociologists who studied social movements. I wrote my dissertation on the 1966 civil rights movement in Chicago, known as the Chicago Freedom Movement. I graduated from Northwestern University with a Ph.D. in Sociology in 1998. My research interests are, broadly, race, ethnicity, gender, social class and social movements. Since completing my doctorate I have written a book chapter on the Chicago Freedom Movement that was published in the book Oppositional Consciousness: The Subjective Roots of Social Protest. I have also written and published several encyclopedic articles on the American Civil Rights Movement. The courses I currently teach on a regular basis are Introduction to Sociology, Social Problems, Introduction to Gender Studies, Gender and Society, Social Movements and Change, Race and Ethnicity, Sociological Theory, Popular Culture, Urban Sociology, and Social Justice and the Community.