I teach courses in the sociology of gender, sexuality and family, in particular examining and challenging essentialist and biologically determinist perspectives on family, gender, and sexual identity and expression. In my classes, I try to familiarize myself with each student's unique abilities, interests, and learning styles and strive to be flexible, adapting my approaches according to the students in each class. While students must ultimately take responsibility for their own learning, I aim to provide the resources for each student to succeed, while also challenging them in areas where they need more development. One of the concrete ways in which I do this is to create varied assignments that require students to tap into a variety of skills, such as leading and participating in discussion, freewriting as well as writing drafts of formal papers, making presentations, conducting research and learning to use library resources, organizing ideas and concepts, and using critical thinking skills. The structure of my classes is mostly discussion-based, interspersed with short lectures, group activities, student-led exercises, and the connecting of course material to current events, trends, news as well as popular culture. I believe it is crucial for teachers to cultivate learning partnerships with students that function as a two-way street. For me, teaching is about empowering students to take responsibility for their learning, challenging students to grow intellectually, cultivating curiosity, providing opportunities for clarifying values, and igniting social action.
My research focuses on Intentional Communities, which have experienced a resurgence over the past 15 years. I am fascinated by communal living groups, particularly why people join, how they work together to achieve equality between their members, both economically and socially, and what causes them to leave the group and return to "mainstream" society.
My newest line of research is on intentional communities that are solely (or primarily) catering to older adults. I'm interested in how seniors are finding ways to address their changing housing, healthcare, financial, social, and spiritual needs. To understand these seniors experiences I have been interviewing members of several senior co-housing communities. This research is of particular importance as we address the needs of a growing aging population, and may offer solutions for the housing and care-crisis that we will most certainly face as our nation's demographics change.
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Opsal, T., Aguilar, Jade, and Briggs, S. “The Promises and Pitfalls of Engaging Male Juvenile Offenders in Gender Violence Prevention and Bystander Education.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence (2016): 1-20.