My Teaching

I push my students to take ownership of their education and become active participants in the classroom experience. On this page you will find information on the graduate and undergraduate courses I have taught as well as my favorite resources for teaching sociology and social sciences.

Graduate Courses

Intro to Sociology (Online and In-Person)

We use the sociological imagination and the second sight to challenge common-sense assumptions about our world. From Du Bois and Cooper to Marx and Durkheim, we review foundational sociological theorists and core sociological concepts.

Students complete a variety of “Investigating Sociology Assignments” to apply course concepts in their lives. Some of these activities include:

  • Interviewing an acquaintance about a “personal trouble” and applying the sociological imagination to connect it to a social issue.
  • Breaking social norms in public
  • Watching a documentary to evaluate the construction of social problems
  • Watching foreign films to compare systems of stratification
  • Creating diagrams of systems that cause or solve social problems
  • Creating a photo diary of social movements and their counter-movements

Taught (GSU):

  • F ’21 (Online)
  • Sp ’22 (In-Person)
  • Su ’22 (Online)

Student Reviews:

“I thoroughly enjoyed this course as topics of sociology have piqued my interests. Professor Lovell gave the best possible resources to teach what can be a very opinionated topic. Professor Lovell always made himself available when needed and always offered extra help when asked.”

“Taking this course led to my decision to make ANSO-Sociology my major. Prof. Lovell was very hands-on as it relates to providing and receiving feedback from his students.”

Contemporary Social Issues (Online)

Evaluates contemporary social issues using the “social construction of social problems” framework. We start by reviewing the construction of historical panics and disasters like the Satanic Panic, the Chicago Heat Wave, and the Challenger Disaster. We then use those insights to evaluate contemporary social issues and how they are being constructed by various stakeholders and with various claims. Issues we have analyzed include:

  • Mass Incarceration and Crime
  • Inequality and Trickle-Down Economics
  • Immigration and Native Citizenship
  • Education and the “CRT Panic”
  • Free Speech and Social Media
  • Abortion
  • Transgender individuals in sports and bathrooms
  • Grooming
  • Social Movements like Hong Kong 2019 Protests, Standing Rock, and Climate Change

Taught (GSU):

  • F ’20
  • Sp ’21
  • Su ’22
  • Created Master Course Shell

Student Reviews:

“The material for this class was really interesting and grabbed my attention. I like how the instructor broke things down in a way that I was able to understand. That really helped through the course. With the papers, especially, I am not a structured writer but him giving clear details as to how he wanted it done made it easy. I would recommend this class to everyone.”

“First, Professor Lovell is a very special type of professor! We should keep him and make some duplicates‼ I was ready to quit school forever until I took the Contemporary Social Issues course this semester, under Prof. Lovell. I feel like I’ve learned more this semester than I have the whole three years I’ve been attending classes. Please teach this class every year. And please keep Prof. Lovell full time. He cares about us as students and we are in need of some care.”

Gender and Sexuality (Online)

This class reviews historical and contemporary views of gender and sexuality. Specifically, we:

  • Compare essentialist, interactional, structural, and embodied theories of gender and sexuality
  • How gender and sexuality constructs are created, maintain, and travel
  • How gender and sexuality institutionalize inequalities
  • Imagining and creating more equitable futures

Taught (GSU):

  • F ’20
  • Sp ’21

Student Reviews:

“I found this course to be very interesting as the topics of gender/sexuality have peaked many thoughts throughout my life. I’m glad Prof Lovell took the time to understand everyone’s beliefs and allow them to formulate their own educated opinions.”

“This was a fantastic class that has taught me a lot about gender and sexuality and their impacts on society and human interaction. It was a great online experience.”

Junior Seminar (Online and In-Person)

This class helps Anthropology and Sociology majors prepare to conduct their own research projects. Students learn and practice academic research skills as well as prepare their education for a career portfolio. Students

  • Learn how to take vague ideas and turn them into actionable research questions;
  • Conduct and write up a relevant and critical literature review;
  • Revise, edit, and polish written works;
  • Create an educational and career plan.

Taught (GSU):

  • F ’21 (In-Person)
  • Created Online Master Course Shell

Student Reviews:

“This course was instrumental in both my academic and personal growth this semester. I learned how to properly research a subject and report on it. I learned the ethics surrounding such a task, and I learned of my strengths and weaknesses as a student. It was a glorious class!”

Class Inequalities (Online)

This class helps students learn the history of economics and policies in the United States that have led to our current status of inequality. Students also conduct a deep analysis of their community’s inequality and end the course with policy briefs proposing community-level solutions.

Taught (GSU):

  • F’ 21

Student Reviews:

“I thought this was a valuable course and I am thankful for the flexibility and understanding from Dr. Lovell”

 “I enjoyed learning from Dr. Lovell. I enjoy is teaching methods and how understanding he is.”

Quantitative Methods (Online and In-Person)

In a society with an ever-increasing reliance on data, quantitative reasoning is one of the most important skills for students to develop. In this course, students:

  • Learn how to read and evaluate statistical information;
  • Find and clean social data;
  • Conduct descriptive and inferential statistical analysis;
  • Learn and use R;
  • Present complex statistical information in an understandable way.

Taught (GSU):

  • Sp’ 21 (Online)
  • Sp’ 22 (In-Person)

Student Reviews:

“Professor Lovell was always helpful whenever I had a problem. He always made time and went over things if anyone was struggling.”

Theories of Social Science (Online)

Perhaps one of my favorite courses to teach, students review a variety of both classical and contemporary theorists. I make sure to disrupt the norm of a “social science canon.” Students are introduced early to “denied” (Morris, 2015) theorists like Du Bois, Cooper, Addams, and Wells. Students are also introduced to a variety of mid-21st century and contemporary philosophical, anthropological, and sociological theories including:

  • P. Bourdieu
  • M. Foucault
  • R. Connell
  • P. Collins
  • I. Wallerstein
  • W. Brown
  • A. Lorde
  • T. Minh-ha
  • G. Spivak
  • T. Skocpol
  • J. Scott
  • A. Sen
  • J. Butler
  • A. Mbembe
  • G. Agamben
  • N. Fraser
  • A. Cesaire
  • Omi and Winant

Students’ final projects have included:

  • researching a political or social leader’s social philosophy and consequences;
  • using social theories to solve community social problems.

Taught (GSU):

  • Sp’ 21
  • Sp’ 22

Student Reviews:

“Professor was clear and if I was ever stuck on a theorist or had questions he always made time to address my questions or would take the time to read the part of the theory that I didn’t understand. Professor Lovell was flexible with work due. It was extremely helpful since I’m a mother and a student and this semester came with its challenges but the fact that professor Lovell was understanding and gave us extra time to turn in work was a huge help! I really appreciated his flexibility.”

“Very insightful course. Professor Lovell was one of the best instructors I have had throughout my educational experience. He took the time to thoroughly explain the material each week and was available to meet if we had any questions or concerns.”

Qualitative Methods (Online)

This course has students review Maxwell’s (2013) qualitative research design. Based on a research question they have developed, they match the data they need to a specific qualitative method. The course then has students learn the qualitative method best suited to their question, practice that method’s techniques, and conclude by writing a research or grant proposal.

Taught (GSU):

  • Su ’22
Youth Poverty, Homelessness, and Policy (In-Person)

This course helps students critically engage with the newest developments in understanding the experiences of youth and young adults in poverty and the policies that affect their pathways towards stability.

Taught (Northwestern):

  • Sp ’19

Student Reviews:

“This course was extremely useful in helping me understand the breadth of issues facing families and youth who are living in poverty or experiencing homelessness, and challenged my prior notions of how poverty in the US is maintained through systematic processes. We actually also discussed in-depth how race, gender, sexuality, and ability factor into experiences of poverty and homelessness., which was crucial in understanding the relationships that people in one or more of these groups interact with societal institutions. Definitely one of the most interesting, engaging, and meaningful classes I’ve taken at Northwestern.”

“The activities that we did in class were really interesting in getting us to break down policy and think about the relationships between various themes in the class. The readings spanned all kinds of research, and I appreciated that he let us bring in our own interests that intersect with this topic. Erik is also very responsive to email and gives helpful feedback on our papers, I feel as though I am a better writer because of it (at least a little). Overall way more strengths than weaknesses.”

[SOC 392 Syllabus – Youth Poverty]

Sample: Sociology of Suffering

I built this course to help guide my research. In this course, I expose students to classical theories of sociology and, guided by suffering as an analytical concept, connect these theories to other sub-disciplines of sociology: media studies, medical sociology, political sociology, and policy.

[Suffering Syllabus Sample]

List: Northwestern TA Courses
  • W2018; W2016 – Environmental Policy and Culture
  • F2016 – Politics of Scarcity
  • Sp2016 – Sociological Theory
  • F2015 – Food, Politics, and Scarcity
  • F2014 – Introduction to Sociology
List: BYU TA Courses
  • W2012-F2013 – Foundations of Social Inquiry
  • F2013 – Contemporary Sociological Analysis
  • W2013 – Data Analysis and Presentation
  • W2012 – LDS Religion

Undergraduate Courses

Statistical Analysis of Social Data II (Non-Linear)

I co-taught the advanced regression course in the statistics sequence for first-year grad students. In this course, we covered MLE, binary outcomes with logit and probit models, propensity score matching, fixed effects, and interactional and instrumental variables. The course used STATA in examples and assignments.

Taught (Northwestern):

  • Sp ’16

Student Reviews:

“Erik Lovell is an amazing teacher. He should be recognized for all the work he has done with Stats this year. If it were not for him the concepts would not have been clear to me at all. Every lecture he taught made complete sense. You could tell that he had prepared. If he did not know an answer he would follow up about it later instead of struggling through and making it more confusion for people. He should really be given greater recognition for his role in teaching this course. He was the professor and not a TA and despite the fact that [the other graduate student] is technically the instructor [on this evaluation survey] I learned the most from Erik. Most of not all of the class felt this way. He explained theories clearly, provided useful examples, addressed questions and made sure everyone was following the concept before moving on. He also made himself available for tutoring and questions later on.”

“I think Erik has a high understanding and knowledge about the subject and the logic of the methods. He also tries to explain the materials in a much simpler way, that is really helpful for me. He also teaches the materials very clearly. He will be a great professor in the future!”

[SOCIOL 401.2 Syllabus]

Introduction to College Teaching

This course was a department requirement to help ease new graduate students into being a Teaching Assistant and, eventually, instructing their own course. I began with a crash course in effective TA techniques and managing a classroom (grading quickly and effectively, leading discussions, working with professors and students, etc.).

We next delved into basic pedagogical theories and practiced teaching skills. Students developed a teaching portfolio, teaching statement, and set up a baseline for excelling at teaching during their graduate studies.

Taught (Northwestern):

  • Sp ’17

[SOCIOL 570 – Syllabus]

Student Reviews:

“I think that Erik was well prepared for each class and he was prepared to adjust the class to our benefit. He was also really understanding of what we were going through with our course load and thus had reasonable expectations. He also brought snacks and related to us as fellow graduate students. Erik also was quick to note his own positionality in regards to teaching and the material, which was super helpful.”

“Erik is passionate, caring, friendly, knowledgeable, and deeply invested in his students. I felt welcomed and included in our classes everyday, and felt like I could easily ask Erik about anything and receive a well through out explanation/suggestion. Erik created a safe space for me.”

F2015-Spr2017: Quantitative Mentor

For 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years, I served the department as a Statistics Mentor to guide students through the statistics sequence. I was available to provide individual and group mentoring in addition to the course instructor and TA. I also led a review session every week for all three courses in our statistics sequence:


  • Introduction to Statistics and Statistical Software
  • Statistical Analysis of Social Data: Applied Regression Methods I
  • Statistical Analysis of Social Data: Applied Regression Methods II

Pedagogical Resources

First-Time TAs/Teachers
Course Creation
Backward Design:

How much reading to assign?

Critical Pedagogy
bell hooks:
  • Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope
  • Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom
Paulo Freire
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed
  • Education for Critical Consciousness
  • Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage