Sociology graduate students Alice MillerMacPhee and Colleen Ray discovered how much they enjoy bringing Sociological knowledge to non-sociologists through participation in UNL’s Science Night Live! 2016. MillerMacPhee was invited to give her Science Slam presentation at the event after winning runner-up at UNL’s first annual Science Slam in the spring, and when sharing the event with friends she used the hashtag “unrulysociologists.” Before starting her Slam, MillerMacPhee gave a shout out to her fellow unrulysociologists and explained:
“I sort of liked the idea that I was maintaining my identity as a social scientist and sociologist but at the same time I was insisting on using my knowledge and my role as a sociologist to get out there and advocate for change. It was a way for me to combine my role as activist and scholar.”
The second year Ray won the Science Slam. Both Sociology graduate students committed to do more to change the world by educating their community.
The students also worked with the UNL Sociology Department leadership and Victor Martinez, Director of Development at the College of Arts and Sciences, to create a web page, Facebook page, and foundation account so that people interested in supporting student efforts to communicate with policy makers and to gain additional skills in disseminating information could offer support. From a simple hashtag to a group of individuals, the group now lives their T-shirt slogan – turning knowledge into action.
“#unrulysociologists is a truly collective organization,” MillerMacPhee said, “we are working in the tradition of Ella Baker and community organizing with an emphasis on collaboration and making information accessible to all people, both inside and outside of the classroom.”
#unrulysociologists sponsored an interactive session on how best to inform policy makers with Dr. Kevin Smith, Chair of Political Science. They also helped organize and facilitate “The Night of Listening” with Professor Max Perry Mueller from Religious studies. The “Night” created a platform for UNL students to voice concerns to local and state elected representatives and staff. Ray said that many students expressed gratitude for the opportunity to let people in power know about issues students care about.
By sharing their knowledge from the classroom with the community, the group hopes to empower others to take action and engage in the political process.
“My overall mission for this group,” said Ray, “is for us to form a knowledge sharing network that not only creates a sense of community but also encourages engagement with the political process.”
Members of #unrulysociologists meet monthly to learn about a current policy relevant topic and then to write or call policy makers with information and recommendations for legislation. Members also attend student groups composed of predominantly undergraduate students (e.g. the UNL chapter of Define America and Resilient Women) to help amplify those students’ voices and work toward establishing a more equitable campus for all.
One goal for #unrulysociologists is to bring undergraduate students to the Sociologists for Women in Society winter meeting, a feminist sociology conference that includes sessions on scholar activism.