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Susan Ferguson

Discipline: Sociology
Grinnell College

Susan Ferguson is Professor and Chair of Sociology at Grinnell College, where she has taught for over 26 years. Ferguson, who grew up in a working class family in Colorado, still considers the Rocky Mountains to be her spiritual home. A first-generation college student, Ferguson was able to attend Colorado State University with the help of scholarships, work-study, and student loans. She double-majored in Political Science and Spanish and also completed certificates of study in Women’s Studies and in Latin American Studies. As a CSU undergraduate, Ferguson experienced international travel for the first time and traveled to Guatemala and Mexico to study Mayan culture and later to Peru to study Incan culture. Her love of global travel and learning continued with her off-campus study at the University of Madrid, Spain. After working and traveling globally for a biotechnology research grant sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Ferguson entered graduate school and completed her master’s degree in sociology at Colorado State University and her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Her areas of study are gender, family, women’s health, and pedagogy, but her primary enthusiasm is for teaching.

At Grinnell College, Ferguson regularly teaches Introduction to Sociology, and her critically acclaimed anthology, Mapping the Social Landscape: Readings in Sociology (SAGE 2017) is used in introductory sociology classes across the country. Ferguson also teaches courses on the family, medical sociology, and a seminar on social inequality and identity, and she has published books in all of these areas. Most recently, Ferguson received the 2018 ASA Hans O. Mauksch Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Teaching, and in January 2019, she and her co-PI, Stephen Sweet at Ithaca College, received a large NSF grant to study sociology curricular revision and change in 150 sociology departments.

Since teaching on the Fall 2016 Semester at Sea voyage, Ferguson has turned her attention to teaching more global courses, and at Grinnell in 2018, she co-taught a travel-embedded course on Global Health. Over the course of the semester, she and her students traveled to Costa Rica, Cuba, and Denmark to study their health care systems and compared them to the U.S. health care system. On the Fall 2020 voyage, Ferguson is excited to be teaching IE 272 World Interdependence-Current Global Issues, focusing on Global Health and IE 492 International Education Seminar for the Impact cohort.

Away from the classroom, Ferguson enjoys historical fiction, walking, yoga, upcycling items found in flea markets, and spending time with her two teenage daughters, Alana (16 years old) and Gillian (18 years old). As a family, they enjoy cooking, movies, traveling, and playing games. Both daughters are looking forward to traveling on their second voyage of Semester at Sea.