In the fall of 2009, I began a track of courses that will conclude with my obtaining the degree of PhD in Sociology from Michigan State University. Here is my guidance committee report as of 2011-06. The Google Doc  [2-view] [3-edit] will be updated each semester as I complete the courses necessary. This is meant to serve as my schedule and should be considered nothing more than that.
The material I produce during this course of study is accessible through various links within this website (JohnGirdwood.com) and typically takes the form of Google Documents. The course track outline here is my own chosen schedule and in no way should be viewed as anything other than my own personal plan. If you would like further information about the Department of Sociology at Michigan State University, please contact the program through its website by clicking here.
Interested in what I’m currently doing? You’ve reached the right place. I enrolled in the PhD program of the Sociology Department at Michigan State University in the Fall of 2009. I plan to graduate and receive my doctorate in approximately five (5) years. My course plan can be found [here].
That means in 2014 you can call me “Doctor Girdwood.” Don’t be too shocked; I am not the first, nor the second, and I won’t be the next… or the next after that… or the last. As I attend classes, I’ll post my course work here on this page and you can check it out as I go. There may some interesting material here but you’ll have to click and view the documents to judge for yourself. Keep in mind I’m providing links to an assortment of Google Docs that will not be written until the due date. Fair warning if you click on a paper that is yet to be written. Enjoy and happy learning!
Tips on how to critique an article: www.ncfr.org/journals/marriage_family/review/how.asp
SOC 989: Top Sociological Methodology, Instructor: Dr. Steve Gold; 462 Berkey Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824; (517) 353-6352; firstname.lastname@example.org
[my personal version of the syllabus] [my personal blog post version of syllabus]
- 2/3/10 Job finding strategy [blog post]
- Reflection papers on each guest speaker that discuss how you can incorporate his suggestions to achieve your career goals
- 2/17/10 Reflection 1: [blog post]
- 3/3/10 Reflection 2: [blog post]
- 3/17/10 Reflection 3: [blog post]
- 4/21/10 Reflection 4: [blog post]
- 3/24/10 Course [syllabus] & Teaching [philosophy]
- 4/7/10 Planned revision [blog post]
- 4/28/10 Research [agenda], teaching [philosophy], course [syllabus], job application [letter]
SOC 816: Contemporary Sociological Theory, Instructor: Dr. Alesia Montgomery; 460A Berkey Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824; (517) 353-4465; email@example.com
[my personal version of the syllabus] [my personally blog post version of syllabus]
- Mass Deception & Violence: Critique of Adorno & Horkheimer
- Gender, Race, Nations, & Ways of Knowing
- Homans & NBA Tweeners
- Critique of “Exchange & Power in Social Life”  by Peter M. Blau
- Reflection Essay [blog post]
- Final Paper [3/3/10 proposal] [4/21/10 draft] [5/5/10 final]
SOC 885: Methods Sociological Inquiry, Instructor: Dr. Thomas Conner; 461 Berkey Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824; (517) 355-1747; firstname.lastname@example.org
[my personal version of the syllabus]
- Final Paper: Ethnography, Survey Research, and Content Analysis – A Methodological Critique of _______ article [Google Doc] [blog post]
- Mass Media Ethics: Thoughts on Zaller & Lessig [Google Doc] [blog post]
- Challenging Traditional Gate-Keeping Power & Control: How New Media Transcended Conventional Mass Media Roles [Academia] [blog post]
- Personal Influence and Communicative Action: A Critique of Habermas, Friedland, Katz, and Lazarsfeld [Google Doc] [blog post]
- Durkheim Suicide – Short Paper Critique: [blog post]
- Marx: Critical Theory in Conflict with Philosophical Stances on Same Subject [blog post]
- Discovering Inconspicuous Exploitation: Applying the Theories of W. E. B. DuBois to American Sports Sociology [Academia]
- The Influence of Paternal Relationships on the Development of Athletic Male Offspring [Academia] [blog post]
During my second year of grad school, I decided to focus on Sports Sociology. To help me learn more about athletes and the social environments that exist, I enrolled in Dr Dan Gould‘s Kinesiology course at MSU. It was a very informative course and I was please that Dr Gould allowed me some flexibility in what I studied of sports psychology. I’m interested in leadership and influence. Currently, I work in a corporate environment. What distinguishes a leader from a follower?
[Bored reading? View my course plan here.]
I interviewed a collegiate athlete cross-country runner for a mid-major southern college. The athlete was a stand out in high school and was adapting to the college environment. Cross-country is a special sport that draws on the athlete’s mental endurance and fortitude. So, an interview with this runner contributed to the study on sports psychology and “mental toughness.”
Another topic that I plan to focus on in my dissertation is race and ethnicity, especially how it relates to (i) sports; (ii) geography in America, meaning rural vs. urban; and (iii) family influence. What types of sports are played by youth in urban and rural areas? In Flint, the urban culture is predominantly segregated. I want to understand which sports appeal to what particular races.
I hypothesize a couple things:
- Sports participation is heavily influenced by legacy causes, especially family.
- Outlier and mainstream sports participation varies by geography.
I want to answer these research questions:
- Do reasons for [same] sports participation remain the same, generation to generation?
- Are reasons for [outlier/mainstream] sports participation related, i.e. polarized or similar?
To pursue these goals, I have established a solid framework of family, sports, and sociology.
I’m teaching! Find me at: