Professor, Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
What research questions currently preoccupy you?
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, service-learning began to be practiced by professors who were looking for ways to make their curriculum more meaningful and engaged, with the hope of developing students who were better critical thinkers. Research conducted on service-learning showed that students did become better critical thinkers and that this pedagogy provided a more engaged classroom. However, many of the social problems that faculty were addressing (e.g., inequality, poverty, food insecurity, etc.) continued to worsen. Some faculty began looking for ways to reverse these trends, and to see if it was possible to change social structure, rather than just focusing on the problems created by social structure. Out of this process, “policy service-learning” was developed.
In December of 2017, I published a book entitled CHANGE! A Student Guide to Social Action (Routledge), which is the first practical social change text devoted to students working in an academic environment. While there are many books about community organizing and social change, there are no college texts focusing on how to provide real-world experience with academic content taking into consideration the flow of the academic term. CHANGE! is written specifically for faculty and staff to use with college students with the goal of helping students bring about the change they believe is necessary to make our community a better place to live.
What personal factors contributed to your study of inequality and poverty?
The fact that the USA is the richest nation on the planet and we are number one in childhood poverty, income inequality, and wealth inequality.
What has been most challenging in your research?
To get my work out to the larger public.
How has your position in SJSU contributed to your research?
The ability to do a difference in pay (DIP) leave has allowed me to write four books.
A hidden (research) talent:
I was trained as a quantitative sociologist, but I have written a couple of qualitative articles!
One book that changed your life (or research) and why:
Martin Luther King’s Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? as it provides a theoretical, ethical, and practical approach to social change.
Advice you’d give to newer faculty or students:
Figure out how to get course reductions either through internal and/or external grants.
Dr. Scott Myers-Lipton is the author of CHANGE! A Student Guide to Social Action (Routledge 2017), Ending Extreme Inequality: An Economic Bill of Rights Approach to Eliminate Poverty (Paradigm 2015), Rebuild America: Solving the Economic Crisis through Civic Works (Paradigm 2009) and Social Solutions to Poverty: America’s Struggle to Build a Just Society (Paradigm 2006), as well as numerous scholarly articles on racism, education, and civic engagement.