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March 29, 2011 - 8:04pm

Professor Profile: Luis Sfeir-Younis


What are some of the classes you teach?

Sociology of Multiculturism. We talk about diversity, the conflicts arising from diversity. It’s a hands-on, face-to-face interaction. I’m also teaching a class that is new to LSA about animals and society, how we associate with animals, and so on.

What are some of your favorite teaching methods?

I consider my classes to be classes on dialogues. Students form small groups, they write journals, they find ways to contribute to the class. I have a lot of people from different backgrounds, which makes for different conversations.

Do you have any classes you may want to teach in the future?

I’m thinking about teaching a class called the Sociology of Food. We would talk about anorexia, bulimia, obesity, dieting, how we eat, when we eat, how food is made and international issues concerning food. I may also teach a course on the sociology of childhood and youth. I’m interested in the culture of youth — what kind of behaviors and rituals are important to youth today; and not only Facebook and Myspace.

How would you describe your relationship with your students?

My students are my partners. I really want to hear what they have to say. I don’t think of them as needing to be educated, or as brash or childish. I am interested in the whole student. I want to make them the protagonist of my class. A lot of people talk to me not as a therapist, but as someone to talk to; and that’s part of the educational process.

Do you have other projects in the works, outside of academics?

I’ve taken students on study abroad trips through the (Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduate Studies). I think that every student, whether you are rich or poor, should take advantage of the opportunities you have here at the University of Michigan to study abroad. You wouldn’t have a full understanding of things if you didn’t know how to navigate another culture.