Valerie Chepp is a qualitative researcher and ethnographer studying intersectional and cultural approaches to inequality, art, and social justice. Her published work has focused on race, gender, feminism, hip-hop, and spoken word poetry. She has also published scholarship on teaching and learning and qualitative research methods. Valerie is co-creator and co-editor of the award-winning teaching website The Sociological Cinema, designed to help instructors integrate videos into classroom instruction. Valerie teaches courses on Social Justice, Sociology of Gender, Ethnographic Field Methods, Introductory Sociology, Sociology of Storytelling, and American Cool. Valerie holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Maryland, a MA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago, and a BA in Sociology and Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin.
Drawing upon various critical pedagogies, Valerie aims for her classrooms to be a site for social justice and change. Valerie creates inclusive classroom environments where all students have the opportunity to learn and succeed. She integrates a variety of teaching materials (e.g., academic articles, newspapers, blog posts, radio stories), assessment strategies, projects, and opportunities for engagement, and her students read, watch, and listen to texts authored by a diverse collective of social thinkers. Valerie incorporates multimedia (music, video, visual art, poetry, photography, film) and popular culture into her teaching, and she presents course content in an engaging way that is conducive to lively classroom discussion and active learning. She is especially excited to be directing and teaching courses in the Social Justice Program at Hamline, allowing her to further cultivate her approach to teaching as a conduit for social justice.
“At its best, sociology is a profound practice of critical thinking and doing. Sociology teaches us to question our social world, see the invisible social structures that organize our lives, and recognize our own power to shape these structures in more equitable ways. As an instructor, I facilitate this form of critical consciousness by teaching core disciplinary knowledge and the scientific methods sociologists use to generate and evaluate this knowledge. In doing so, I foster students’ awareness of social structures, and I help them to see all the small and big things we do every day that work to maintain these power structures, as well as potentially change them."