Faculty Profile: Elizabeth Watts Warren, Department of Sociology
After working for years as a school psychologist, Elizabeth Watts Warren found herself at a crossroads. While she knew that psychology, or individual behavior, played a role in the problems of the students she was helping, she also knew that there was more involved.
“While psychology provides some fascinating insights on individual behavior, I knew that there were so many other things that impacted their situation,” she says. “As I began to go into the children’s homes and found single-parent households where, sometimes, it was a miracle that the child even got to school, I knew it wasn’t a strictly an individual-level problem.”
Dr. Watts Warren says that she’s always dreamed of teaching at the university level, so the combination of that and her interest in social issues naturally led her to study sociology, earning a master’s degree in the discipline in 1992. While studying for her Ph.D., also in sociology, she worked as a program evaluator for the First Offender Project and as an instructor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Georgia. She earned her doctoral degree in 2002 and has been a faculty member at ASU since fall semester.
Dr. Watts Warren says the hardest thing about studying for a doctoral degree was narrowing her research interests for the dissertation. She settled on a time-series analysis of claims of threat—a historical look, through newspaper articles, at what kinds of crimes were related to societal issues like political climate and the state of the economy.
“People tend to think that the politicization of crime—using it as a political campaign strategy—is a new concept,” Dr. Watts Warren says. “It’s really not. In fact, it goes back to the 1800s and it’s still around today. It has won many elections.”
Dr. Watts Warren also enjoys researching the areas of family issues, sociology of education, crime and punishment, law, and the popular media.
At ASU, she teaches Introduction to Sociology and social deviance courses.
“I love the stimulation of a college environment,” she says. “People in this setting want to engage in thoughtful discussions. I especially like the diversity of students on this campus. There’s such a wide variety of ages, backgrounds, and interests. It makes for much more interesting class discussions.”
Outside of work she enjoys reading and playing the cello, which she’s been doing since middle school. Dr. Watts Warren earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. and two master’s degrees—one in school psychology and another in sociology—and a doctoral degree in sociology, all from the University of Georgia.
Who: Elizabeth Watts Warren
Position: Temporary Instructor of Sociology
How long at ASU? Since fall semester
Native of: Indianapolis, Indiana
Family: Two children: a son, Christopher, and a daughter, Carmen
What do you enjoy most about ASU? The student diversity and the connectedness of the campus.
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