Faculty - Mencken 7-2012


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Meet some of our faculty and learn more about their passion for teaching and devotion to their research.

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Research 1 The department of Sociology is one of the most prolific departments at Baylor. Read the feature stories and press releases highlighting the faculty's work.

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Student image for splashStudents choose Baylor's sociology program for many reasons. Hear from students themselves how academic rigor, accessible faculty and research opportunities prepare them for career in the field or academia.

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WNYC FM (NY): Nature May Have a Profound Effect on Our Religiosity
[8/24/2015]
Aug. 20, 2015
In U.S. counties with warm winters, temperate summers and beautiful natural resources, people’s rates of affiliation with religious organizations are lower than in other places, according to a Baylor study by sociology doctoral candidates Todd W. Ferguson and Jeffrey A. Tamburello of Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. Quoted is Ferguson, who noted the West Coast as an example of lower religious affiliations with churches, mosques or synagogues, but “not because the population is in any way less religious/spiritual. It's that there is an additional supplier of spirituality (nature) and so they are less likely get their spiritual needs met from traditional religious congregations." (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, pitched this story nationally. She covers sociology research and faculty.)
(FULL STORY)

PsyPost: Study: Multiracial congregations don’t promote progressive racial views
[8/21/2015]
Aug. 17, 2015
Troubling questions about multiracial congregations’ potential to address racial inequality are raised by a new national study done by researchers at Baylor University, the University of Southern California and the University of Chicago. Quoted is Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, pitched and placed this story. She covers sociology research and faculty.)
(FULL STORY)

Baptist News Global: For some, another threat to church survival: natural beauty
[8/21/2015]
Aug. 21, 2015
This article about challenges facing American churches cites a recent Baylor University study which found that scenic beauty and pleasant weather may be tied to lower rates of affiliation with religious organizations. The study, published in the journal Sociology of Religion, was conducted by Todd Ferguson and Jeffrey Tamburello, doctoral candidates in sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, who say natural amenities may become sources of spiritual experiences and strength in and of themselves for a portion of the population. (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, pitched the story about the study nationally. She covers sociology research and faculty.)
(FULL STORY)

NPR: Nature May Have a Profound Effect On Our Religiosity
[8/20/2015]
Aug. 20, 2015
In U.S. counties with warm winters, temperate summers and beautiful natural resources, people’s rates of affiliation with religious organizations are lower than in other places, according to a Baylor study by sociology doctoral candidates Todd W. Ferguson and Jeffrey A. Tamburello of Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. Quoted is Ferguson, who noted the West Coast as an example of lower religious affiliations with churches, mosques or synagogues, but “not because the population is in any way less religious/spiritual. It's that there is an additional supplier of spirituality (nature) and so they are less likely get their spiritual needs met from traditional religious congregations." (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, pitched this story nationally. She covers sociology research and faculty.)
(FULL STORY)

Racial Attitudes of Blacks in Multiracial Congregations Resemble Those of Whites, Study Finds
[8/17/2015]
WACO, Texas (Aug. 17, 2015) — Troubling questions about multiracial congregations’ potential to address racial inequality are raised by a new national study done by researchers at Baylor University, the University of Southern California and the University of Chicago.
(FULL STORY)

The Washington Post: Every county in America, ranked by natural beauty
[8/17/2015]
Aug. 17, 2015
This article about the federal government’s measure of the best and worst places to live in America mentions a recent Baylor study which found that regions with lovely scenery and pleasant weather had lower rates of affiliation with religious organizations. (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, pitched the story nationally. She covers sociology research and faculty.)
(FULL STORY)

PhysOrg: Racial attitudes of blacks in multiracial congregations resemble those of whites
[8/17/2015]
Aug. 17, 2015
Troubling questions about multiracial congregations' potential to address racial inequality are raised by a new national study co-authored by Baylor University. The study, published in the journal Sociology of Religion, found “little evidence that multiracial congregations promote progressive racial views among attendees of any race or ethnicity," the researchers wrote. Quoted is Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, pitched the story. She covers sociology research and faculty.)
(FULL STORY)

Psych Central: Scenic Communities Have Lower Rates of Religious Affiliation
[8/13/2015]
Aug. 7, 2015
Counties with nice weather and prettier natural surroundings have lower rates of religious affiliation, according to a Baylor study. The researchers suggest that people may use nature as a spiritual resource, making it a competitor with organized religious institutions. Quoted is Todd Ferguson, a doctoral candidate in sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, who conducted the research with Jeffrey A. Tamburello, also a doctoral candidate in sociology. (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, pitched this research nationally. She covers sociology research and faculty.)
(FULL STORY)

Upworthy.com: Why is the South more religious than the West? It could be the scenery
[8/12/2015]
Aug. 11, 2015
New research by a team at Baylor University examined 3,107 counties across the continental U.S. and found that those with more natural amenities — that is, nice weather and beautiful landscapes — are home to fewer traditionally religious people. "When a person hikes in a forest to connect with the sacred, she or he may not feel the need to affiliate with a religious organization because her or his spiritual demands are met,” said Todd Ferguson, a doctoral candidate in sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, who conducted the research with fellow doctoral candidate Jeffrey A. Tamburello. (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, pitched this research nationally. She covers sociology research and faculty.)
(FULL STORY)

Catholic Online: Are more people choosing nature over church for spiritual needs?
[8/11/2015]
Aug. 10, 2015
The beauty of a natural environment helps many achieve their spiritual needs, according to a study by Baylor University sociologists Todd Ferguson and Jeffrey Tamburello, doctoral candidates in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. Regions of the country with good weather and lovely landscapes have lower rates of affiliation with religious organizations. The study was published in the Journal of Sociology. (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, pitched this story.)
(FULL STORY)

USA TODAY: God competes against Mother Nature on Sundays
[8/10/2015]
Aug. 9, 2015
U.S. counties with nicer weather and prettier natural surroundings see lower rates of religious affiliation, according to Baylor researchers Todd Ferguson and Jeffrey Tamburello, doctoral candidates in the sociology department in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. The study suggests some people use nature as a spiritual resource, making it a competitor with organized religious institutions. Counties in regions such as the Pacific Northwest with more natural amenities — mountains, bodies of water, forests, warm weather — had lower percentages of people belonging to traditional religious institutions than counties in regions such as the Midwest, with flatter landscapes and colder winters. (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, has pitched this story nationally. She covers sociology research and faculty.)
(FULL STORY)

KTRH-AM (Houston/CBS Radio): Beautiful Scenery and Religious Affiliation
[8/10/2015]
Aug. 10, 2015
The more naturally beautiful a region is, the less likely a portion of the population is to be part of a mainstream religion, according to a study by Baylor sociologists Todd Ferguson and Jeffrey Tamburello. They said they are unsure why the correlation exists and it is not clear whether non-believers are more inclined to surround themselves with natural beauty. (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, has pitched this story nationally. She covers sociology research and faculty.)
(FULL STORY)

KGO-AM (San Francisco): Where You Live Affects How You Believe
[8/10/2015]
Aug. 10, 2015
Just as beautiful natural amenities may be an economic commodity to attract tourists, new residents and development, they also may be spiritual resources for a portion of the population — and compete with traditional local religious organizations, according to a Baylor University study by Todd Ferguson and Jeffrey Tamburello, doctoral candidates in the College of Arts & Sciences. The study was published in the journal Sociology of Religion. (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, has pitched this story nationally. She covers sociology research and faculty.)
(FULL STORY)

The Blaze: Study Finds Something Else Could Be Meeting People’s Spiritual Needs in Place of Traditional Churches … Nature
[8/7/2015]
Aug. 6, 2015
Regions of the United States with beautiful landscapes and good weather have lower rates of adherence to traditional religious organizations, according to a Baylor study published in the journal Sociology of Religion. Beautiful weather, mountains and waterfronts can serve as “conduits to the sacred, just like traditional religious congregations,” said researcher Todd Ferguson, a doctoral candidate in sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. But “we’re not claiming that residents in areas richer with natural amenities are more likely to create a ‘church of nature.’” Co-researcher was Jeffrey Tamburello, also a doctoral candidate in sociology. (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, pitched and placed this story. She covers sociology research and faculty.)
(FULL STORY)

The Huffington Post: Religion Loses When It Competes With Beautiful Nature, Study Suggests
[8/7/2015]
Aug. 7, 2015
Communities in regions of the country with more beautiful landscapes may feel more of a spiritual pull toward nature than to traditional religious organizations, according to a study by Baylor sociologists Todd Ferguson and Jeffrey Tamburello, both doctoral candidates in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. Such counties had lower rates of religious affiliations. (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, pitched and placed this story.)
(FULL STORY)

The Washington Post: Is it pretty outside? Then you’re less likely to go to church
[8/6/2015]
Aug. 6, 2015
U.S. counties with nice weather and prettier natural surroundings see lower rates of religious affiliation, according to a Baylor study. The researchers suggest that people may use nature as a spiritual resource, making it a competitor with organized religious institutions. Quoted is Todd Ferguson, a doctoral candidate in sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, who conducted the research with Jeffrey A. Tamburello, also a doctoral candidate in sociology. “People continually bring up this idea of nature-based spiritual fulfillment — whether it’s people who are hiking, surfing, backpacking . . . We were trying to see, if this is happening at the individual level, maybe it’s actually affecting large regions like counties.” (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, pitched and placed this story. She covers sociology faculty and research.)
(FULL STORY)

Religion News Service: Is it pretty outside? Then you’re less likely to go to church
[8/6/2015]
Aug. 6, 2015
U.S. counties with nice weather and prettier natural surroundings see lower rates of religious affiliation, according to a Baylor study. The researchers suggest that people may use nature as a spiritual resource, making it a competitor with organized religious institutions. Quoted is Todd Ferguson, a doctoral candidate in sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, who conducted the research with Jeffrey A. Tamburello, also a doctoral candidate in sociology. “People continually bring up this idea of nature-based spiritual fulfillment — whether it’s people who are hiking, surfing, backpacking . . . We were trying to see, if this is happening at the individual level, maybe it’s actually affecting large regions like counties.” (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, pitched and placed this story. She covers sociology faculty and research.)
(FULL STORY)

Myinforms.com: Improved Mental Health is Found Through Greater Spiritual Awareness
[7/30/2015]
July 27, 2015
Article about celebrities who have experienced depression cites Wave III of the Baylor Religion Survey and quotes Paul Froese, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. Froese, part of the research team that studied the connection between mental health and spirituality, said that respondents who have strong beliefs about their relationship with God have significantly better mental health, and that those who attend religious services regularly have the lowest reported number of mental health issues. (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, covers sociology research and faculty.)
(FULL STORY)

World Religion News: Improved Mental Health Found through Greater Spiritual Awareness
[7/28/2015]
July 17, 2015
Article about celebrities who have experienced depression cites Wave III of the Baylor Religion Survey and quotes Paul Froese, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. Froese, part of the research team that studied the connection between mental health and spirituality, said that respondents who have strong beliefs about their relationship with God have significantly better mental health, and that those who attend religious services regularly have the lowest reported number of mental health issues. (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, covers sociology research and faculty.)
(FULL STORY)

Inside Higher Ed: Celebrations, not Tests
[7/10/2015]
July 10, 2015
Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, is reframing the way students and faculty members approach assessments by changing the environment in which students are evaluated. He has relabeled quizzes and exams as “learning checks” and “learning celebrations.” The approach — with balloons, streamers, music and assessment questions featuring classmates — seems to be working, he says. Compared to three semesters of students taking traditional exams to those who take the celebrations, the average score of the assessments increased by nearly two points, which Dougherty partially attributes to the alternative ambiance. (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, pitched and placed this story. She covers sociology research and faculty.)
(FULL STORY)

Science Newsline: Huge Congregations View Racial Inequality Differently Than Others Do, Baylor Study Shows
[7/9/2015]
June 30, 2015
Congregation size has an impact on how people view the reasons for racial inequality in America, according to a new study by researchers at Baylor University and the University of Southern California. Those who attend very large congregations do not tend to attribute social divisions between blacks and whites to discrimination, but to something other than structural failings in society. Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D., and Jerry Z. Park, Ph.D., both associate professors of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, co-authored "Congregational Size and Attitudes toward Racial Inequality among Church Attendees in America," published in the journal Religions. (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, pitched and placed this story. She covers sociology research and faculty.)
(FULL STORY)

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education: People Who Go to Large Churches Tend to Discount Discrimination as Responsible for Racial Inequality
[7/8/2015]
July 7, 2015
Congregation size has an impact on how people view the reasons for racial inequality in America, according to a new study by researchers at Baylor University and the University of Southern California. Those who attend very large congregations do not tend to attribute social divisions between blacks and whites to discrimination, but to something other than structural failings in society. Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D., and Jerry Z. Park, Ph.D., both associate professors of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, co-authored "Congregational Size and Attitudes toward Racial Inequality among Church Attendees in America," published in the journal Religions. (Terry Goodrich, assistant director of Baylor Media Communications, placed this story. She covers sociology research and faculty.)
(FULL STORY)


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