Austin H Johnson joined the Department of Sociology at Kenyon College in July 2017. His research focuses primarily on the health and well-being of LGBTQ people in the American South. He regularly works with advocacy, direct service and mutual aid organizations on community engaged research projects aimed at better understanding LGBTQ people’s unique experiences of health and healthcare. Since 2018, he has served as Research Director of the LGBTQ Health Initiative at the Campaign for Southern Equality, a non-profit advocacy and direct services organization based in Asheville, NC.

Areas of Expertise

LGBTQ Sociology, medical sociology, social psychology

Education

2017 — Doctor of Philosophy from Kent State University

2013 — Master of Arts from Kent State University

2008 — Bachelor of Arts from University of South Carolina

Courses Recently Taught

This course introduces students to the field of sociology through the study of social inequalities as they are created, maintained and challenged within the institutions of our everyday lives. This course covers major themes in sociology by exploring how society operates within and through social institutions, how those institutions create and maintain social norms that disenfranchise some while privileging others and how individuals challenge those norms to enact change in their everyday lives, local communities and society at large. This course will analyze social structures and their impact on the experiences of individuals. We will look at the ways in which social structures construct and constrain reality for individuals and how society and social institutions shape individual values, attitudes and behaviors. The course will examine sociological concepts through an analysis of culture, social inequality, social institutions, social movements and social change. By the end of the course, you should understand common sociological concepts and perspectives and be able to consider aspects of the social world through the sociological lens. Students may take only one introductory-level course. This counts toward the foundation course requirement for the major. Offered every year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated what health scholars have long argued — that the health of one is inherently interconnected with the health of others, including those in one’s neighborhood, country and global community. Despite this unprecedented moment, fundamental questions remain about what it means to be healthy, who decides, and how we measure health. What is health and its relationship to the good life? Why is everyone from Dr. Oz to Gwyneth Paltrow seemingly obsessed with the promise of good health? How do social structures impact health, leading to hidden advantages for some and suffering for others? And perhaps most salient to this moment — how do people respond to public-health threats and how might we create better policies in light of these responses? We start with basic questions about the relevance, definition and measurement of health before turning to more specific questions about what shapes health, how health varies across groups and how professionals and interventions try to improve physical, emotional and mental well-being. Throughout the course, we turn to empirical research — both quantitative and qualitative — to understand how social forces shape health and what can be done to improve it. This counts toward the institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course or permission of the instructor.

Knowing how to answer a question, including what constitutes good evidence and how to collect it, is a necessary ability for any sociologist, or for any student reading the sociological research of others. Our goal will be to learn to understand when and how to use research strategies such as survey questionnaires, interviews, fieldwork and analysis of historical documents. Students will conduct small-scale research projects using these techniques. This course is not intended for seniors, although it is required for all sociology majors. Students are advised to enroll in this class as soon as they begin to consider majoring in sociology. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course. Offered every year.

Social life is saturated by sexuality in unstable and disjointed ways. From advertisements that promote the use of sexual enhancement pharmaceuticals to laws restricting access to safe and healthy sexual encounters, the sociocultural framing of sexuality is unequal and often illogical. This course examines sexualities as they are constructed, experienced and regulated across multiple social contexts and institutions. We will explore the social history of sexuality and the evolution of its framing in contemporary society; lived experiences of those labeled or identifying as sexual minorities; privileges associated with hegemonic sexual identity categories; the ongoing sociopolitical regulation of sexual bodies, communities, and desires; and the history of social activism centered on sexual minorities. This counts toward the institutions and change requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course

This mid-level course will explore the methods that sociologists use to study popular culture and media products, and will examine the connections of popular culture and media to broader social patterns within American society. Course material will cover a range of subjects, including movies, television, the news, novels, and advertising. Students will become familiar with several approaches to the study of popular culture and mass media, and examine what these cultural products can reveal about social norms, trends, and relationships. In addition to empirical assessments of the content of cultural products, the course will examine the institutional structures that shape their production and distribution, as well as patterns of audience consumption and interpretation. This work will culminate with the opportunity to design a research project that uses sociological methods to critically interpret and analyze popular culture products. Prerequisite: foundation course in sociology or permission of instructor.

This course enlists community partners to join Kenyon students in collaboratively designing and executing sociological research projects of clear benefit to their organization. Students will collaborate in groups to make substantive contributions to problems or issues in the greater Knox County community. The range of partner organizations may include those addressing public and environmental health, natural resources management and sustainability, social welfare and services, community infrastructure and planning and local economic development. Class meetings will take diverse formats, including occasional field trips (campus transport provided), guest speakers, group planning sessions, short lectures and lab/ group work sessions. This counts toward the methods requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level sociology course and SOCY 271 and sophomore standing. Offered every year.

This mid-level course is for those students who have taken the foundation course. Consult the department for further description.

This course explores health experiences and outcomes as they are created, maintained and regulated in and through race, class, gender and sexuality. In doing so, this course pays particular attention to theories of medicalization, healthcare discrimination, minority stress, fundamental causality and social interventions meant to address these issues. We will read and critique highly-cited or classic studies in medical sociology, epidemiology and the inequalities literatures, along with recent studies in the field that build from these major works. In doing so, we will advance our knowledge of newly developed methodologies, how to test and advance existing theories, and how to design our own research so that it clearly builds from previous research. This counts toward the institutions and change area requirement for the major. Prerequisite: 100-level SOCY course and junior standing.

This course is for advanced students. See online searchable schedule for further description. Prerequisites: permission of instructor and department chair.

Individual study is an exception, not a routine option, with details to be negotiated between the student(s) and the faculty member and the department chair. The course may involve investigation of a topic engaging the interest of both student and professor. In some cases, a faculty member may agree to oversee an individual study as a way of exploring the development of a regular curricular offering. In others, the faculty member may guide one or two advanced students through a focused topic drawing on his or her expertise, with the course culminating in a substantial paper. The individual study should involve regular meetings at which the student and professor discuss assigned material. The professor has final authority over the material to be covered and the pace of work. The student is expected to devote time to the individual study equivalent to that for a regular course. Individual studies will be awarded 0.5 units of credit. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the registrar’s deadline.

This course is designed to help students develop a critical framework for thinking and writing about intersectional issues related to sexuality, sex, gender identity and gender expression. The course will take a broad view of examining queer and transgender issues from sociopolitical, legal, psychological, biological, cultural, ethical, philosophical and historical frameworks. We will look at the fields of queer theory and LGBTQ+ studies out of which some of the most innovative and challenging developments in modern cultural studies are arising. Additionally, we will examine the ways in which society interacts with queer and transgender identities in a number of spheres, including politics, healthcare, the arts, the sciences and more. This counts towards the introductory and diversity and globalization requirements for the major. This course paired with any other .50 unit WGS course counts toward the social science diversification requirement. No prerequisite.