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This year’s ASA Annual Meeting in Denver will host a multitude of perspectives that all point to Real Utopias. The Rocky Mountain West is a suitable location to host a conference themed “Real Utopia’s: Emancipatory Projects, Institutional Designs, Possible Futures,”as the vast expanse of open spaces and abundant natural resources has always held the allure of being a place for utopic visions. It was here where the manifest destiny of a young nation unfolded (embodying the positives and negatives of the ideology of the early American nation-state), and a national culture was formed that embraced the image of the vast, natural landscape as a national icon. Europe had cathedrals; America had a utopic vision of the West.
A goal of the ASA is to make it easier for its members to demonstrate their pedagogical skills for promotion, tenure, or job applications. This goal is more fully realized with a new member benefit, which makes it now possible for any ASA member to submit a teaching resource to TRAILS: the Teaching Resources and Innovation Library for Sociology, even if they are not a subscriber. As administrators, accreditors, and parents increasingly focus on student learning outcomes, job candidates and faculty are less likely to receive the benefit of the doubt regarding their teaching effectiveness. They will need proof.
On neighborhood street corners in the United States one regularly sees walkers of all ages, children with bikes, parents pushing strollers, and teenagers with skateboards taking advantage of curb cuts. The “curb-cut principle” refers to the idea that while curb cuts were originally intended for persons who use wheelchairs they are also convenient for all.
As of its February meeting, ASA Council has now approved all 15 recommendations included in the most recent report from the Status Committee on Persons with Disabilities in Sociology. Many of those recommendations can be thought of as professional association “curb cuts,” establishing practices that will make ASA meetings and services more accessible and welcoming to all members.
Erik Olin Wright speaking about Real Utopias
at Gallaudet University.
The first image of Gallaudet: two students in animated conversation strolling along a walk next to classic liberal arts type buildings—an everyday thing to see on campus, only they are talking with their hands. I have, of course, seen people signing before, but this was the first time I had visited a place in Deaf-World and spoken, with the help of an interpreter, for an extended period with Deaf people. The day was extraordinary.
Kevin Bales’ life’s work started with a pamphlet. The professor of sociology was in London in the early 1990s, and was astounded when he picked up a leaflet that stated there were millions of slaves in the world today. Bales is now an expert on modern slavery and President of Free the Slaves, a U.S. sister organization of Anti-Slavery International, the world’s oldest human rights organization.