By Dylan Valic
Dr. Heather Parrott was named the chairperson of the new Department of Social Sciences during the fall 2018 semester. The newly-formed department combines history, political science, international studies, sociology, anthropology, and economics. Parrott has replaced the former chairpeople of these departments Jeanie Attie, Amy Freedman, Eric Lichten, and Panos Mourdokoutas.
As chairperson, Parrott is an advocate for the different programs in the social sciences department. “I have had to quickly learn each of the programs within the new department – the progression of classes, what courses are required for the major, what courses can be substituted, when courses are best scheduled for different types of students, who typically teaches each course, the relationship between undergraduate and graduate degrees, how internships work,” Parrott said.
Parrott also has goals for the future of the department. “My biggest goals are to figure out ways to grow and promote all of the programs under the social science umbrella. Certainly the skills and knowledge learned in our courses are applicable to any future career, including careers in business, law, social work, nursing, veterinary care, criminal justice, and teaching,” Parrott said.
Parrott, who is an associate professor of sociology, studies inequality on many fronts such as racial, ethnic, gender, and class inequality. “Even students can help address the problem of inequality, she said. “I think the biggest things that students can do to address inequality are to learn more about social issues. Take classes, keep up on current events, read news articles from diverse sources, and become informed voters.”
One of Dr. Parrott’s greatest achievements has been starting the Long Island Applied Research Center (LI-ARC). The LI-ARC’s goal has been to “more effectively mobilize the expertise of local faculty to assist Long Island nonprofit agencies and, wherever possible, use these connections to enhance student learning,” according to Parrot.
Unfortunately, many of the faculty that were affiliated with the LI-ARC have recently been let go, but despite the difficulties surrounding the cuts, the LI-ARC is still actively involved in community-based research. Those at the LI-ARC are doing a collaborative study with the Safe Center LI to explore the extent that their services reduce the effects of trauma.
Between her work as a professor, a new department chair, and a researcher, Parrott will continue to do a lot for the LIU community.