A Welcome Message from Chair Aaron McCright

September 1, 2020

Dear Sociology Majors and Minors,

On behalf of the faculty, staff, and graduate students in the Department of Sociology, I welcome you all—new and returning students alike—into our (virtual) Spartan Community!

To be sure, this is not how any of us envisioned this semester would begin (nor how the last one would end).  While cliché, saying that we are living in unprecedented times is nevertheless accurate.  But, allow me to explain why I think this may not be an entirely negative situation.

Your generation was born in the wake of 9/11 during the worldwide war on terror, you likely saw friends and family members lose their homes or jobs during the Great Recession, and you regularly experienced fear and anxiety with the numerous mass shootings at schools around the country.

More recently, we are stumbling through a global pandemic and resulting major economic recession—the second one of your young lives.  Further, unabated human activities are fundamentally changing our planet’s climate, systemic racism appears as entrenched as ever, mis-/dis-information is everywhere, and our nation seems more divided—politically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually—than at any time since the late 1800s.  In short, the world is (figuratively and literally) on fire, unarmed Americans are getting killed in our streets, while far too many “responsible adults” cling to lies and conspiratorial thinking.  And, to top it all off, we are heading into the last two months of what is the most contentious and consequential national election in decades.

Your generation bears no culpability for creating any of this.  But, confronting and solving these many complex, interconnected problems will become your responsibility sooner than you think—after you matriculate through MSU and take up positions of leadership in government, education, the economy, communities, and civil society.

I remain hopeful for our future because of your generation’s potential.  You collectively have endured more tragedy and loss during your first 20 years than have members of several recent generations—like Gen X to which I belong.  Persevering through all of this adversity likely has given you a mental fortitude and character strong enough to address our country’s major problems.

A long time ago, another generation of young adults scratched and clawed their way through the financial panics, industry collapses, staggering unemployment, and stifling poverty of the Great Depression only to find themselves asked to save the world from the fascism of Nazi Germany and colonizing aspirations of Imperial Japan.  We call them “The Greatest Generation.”  They accomplished greatness not despite—but because of—the adversity and tragedy they faced and overcame.  Their losses, pain, and sacrifices served as a fiery crucible in which their capacity for great accomplishments was forged.

I believe the same can be true today. What you have faced to date has helped to prepare you for the challenges ahead—even if you currently lack the confidence in your capacity for addressing these challenges.

So, now is the time to broaden and deepen your sociological knowledge and strengthen your reasoning, analytical, and communication skills to further your preparation.  Our semester will not be ideal, but we will work hard, support each other, and learn together.  And perhaps in the not too distant future, you will reflect upon these months as yet another experience that helped strengthen your resolve and improve your capacity to make the world a better place.




p.s.: While my office door may be physically closed this semester, my inbox remains open.  Please feel free to drop me an e-mail if you have any concerns or questions this semester.




Aaron M. McCright (he, him, his)
Professor and Chairperson
Department of Sociology
Michigan State University
317 Berkey Hall
e-mail: mccright@msu.edu
office: 517-355-6640
department: https://sociology.msu.edu
personal: https://goo.gl/bjjrJS