This week I spoke with Dr. Justin Nelson, the Assistant Professor of Sociology here at Campbell!
- What made you decide to work at Campbell?
Several things drew me to Campbell, but most importantly was the fact that Campbell is a faith-based university with a mission of service to rural and underserved communities. I am in my fourth year as Assistant Professor of Sociology here at Campbell and I see this mission of service and community engagement lived out every day in the work of our students, faculty, and staff. I love being able to connect my work in sociology to the work of community engagement going on here at Campbell. It has been incredibly fulfilling to connect and work with students and community partners in Harnett County and beyond on many different projects, including the creation of a place-based rural education program and a three-county asset-mapping project to help solve local social problems. On top of that, North Carolina is a great place to live and how cool is the Camel mascot!
- What is your favorite thing about Campbell?
It has to be the students! The students here are curious, engaged, and very socially conscious. It has been fun to get to know students through Principles of Sociology and then to see their sociological imaginations start to grow as they connect their own lived experiences to larger social forces. Since I’ve been at Campbell, we’ve been able to grow the offerings in sociology to include several new classes, including courses like Marriage and Family and a series of courses on Exploring, Leading, and Engaging Underserved Communities. In fact, we also now offer two different minors: one in Sociology and the other in Community Leadership and Engagement. These new additions wouldn’t have been possible without students interested in learning more about the diverse world we live in and how to engage with it to make meaningful change.
- What are some accomplishments that you are most proud of?
This year I was honored to be awarded the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in the School of Education. I love teaching and this was truly an honor. What’s really rewarding is being able to share my passion for teaching with my students. I mentioned the place-based rural education program that we’ve developed along with Campbell students and partners at Harnett County Schools’ STAR Academy. This fall has been the pilot program and it has been rewarding beyond anything I could have hoped for! Since the beginning of the semester, Campbell undergraduate students in my SOCI 451 course have worked as mentors to help local high school students explore our community, discuss our individual roles in it, and begin to envision the change we want to see in our communities. So many wonderful things have happened as a part of this program, but the highlight has to be when the high school students presented their plans for change to the Mayor of Lillington and several faculty members of the school. It was a cool moment that really empowered these young people to be agents of social change!