News & Events

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The Department publishes a newsletter twice a year - one during the Fall semester, and again in the Spring.  The purpose of our newsletter is to deliver department news, to call your attention to important activities, and to encourage you to take advantage of all that Villanova has to offer!

NEW!  Spring 2020 Interactions

Beginning this semester, we have swtiched to an electronic version of the newsletter. View the spring 2020 edition of Interactions here.

2020 Student Award Winners

Congratulations to our student award winners! The medallion of excellence award winners are Meagan Murray (sociology) and Lailany Viera (criminology). The McGarry award winners are Meagan Murray (criminology) and Isabella Carrano (sociology).

View previous award winners on our About Us page.

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Meagan Murray

Though I feel incredibly lucky to have received both the McGarry Award and the John E. Hughes Award, I am most grateful for the experience that I had in the Department of Sociology and Criminology. My classes cultivated critical thinking skills and my professors were incredible mentors. The department was truly a home to me and I am honored to receive the awards.

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Lailany Viera

I am extremely honored to receive the Edwin Sutherland Award and be recognized by my professors. It is a testament to the support and opportunities everyone at the department has given me throughout the years! I am so grateful for my experiences at Villanova and with the Department of Sociology and Criminology!

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Isabella Carrano

I am very honored to receive the McGarry Award from the Sociology Department. Being a Sociology major has given me the ability to use my skills to help others and make a positive impact not only at Villanova, but everywhere life takes me. I am thankful for my wonderful experience at Villanova these past 4 years and I will take my knowledge and passion for service with me when I graduate.

Welcome to our new faculty member

Ken Chih-Yan Sun!

Moving across the Pacific Ocean, I truly appreciate colleagues, friends, and students for making the transition to Villanova University easier than I expected. It is an honor to join the faculty of the Department of Sociology and Criminology, and I am ready to contribute to teaching and research here.

I am a firm believer in diversity, which Villanova University also highly values. In my view, a genuine respect for social justice can only be accomplished through deep reflection on our personal biographies, our roles in neighboring communities, and our relationships within this increasingly globalized world. I am deeply committed to enhancing students’ understanding of the common good and facilitating their ability to apply the knowledge that they learn to help those who are less privileged.  

Trained as a qualitative sociologist, I adopt a comparative and transnational approach to studying how migrant families navigate race/ethnicity, class, and gender across borders and life stages. My work, rooted at the intersection of inequalities, migration, and life course, examines how these forces shape the lives of globally dispersed populations in North America and Greater China. I also collaborate with colleagues to explore how institutional factors, such as the market and social policies in the U.S. and Canada, shape parenting beliefs and practices.

To date, I am working on three different but related studies. My book project examines how aging long-term migrants address their needs across transnational social spaces. This project analyzes the experiences of older migrants grappling with social norms and family intimacies. Focusing on older migrants – all of whom have spent decades pursuing education, establishing careers, and raising families in the U. S. – this book offers the concept of a “temporalities of migration” to explain how older migrants remake connections to children, grandchildren, spouses, communities, and nation-states. For these long-term immigrants, length of stay in the U.S. coupled with the transformation of the homeland, creates a cultural disconnect that informs later-life decisions. In retirement, these migrants reconsider social and cultural norms as they secure various forms of support for themselves and their loved ones. Considering the rights and responsibilities of dual citizenship, they reconstruct relationships with family and community in both their home and host societies.

I am also exploring the changing connections between Chinese migrants who settle in the United States, their aging parents who remain in mainland China and Taiwan, and the caregivers whom these parents rely on back home. This project builds on my prior work on transnational aging but shifts the attention from aging immigrants who are long-term residents in the U.S. to older generations who either stay or are left behind. I examine how transnational families negotiate caregiving responsibility in the context of parental health crisis. This project asks how the deteriorating health of stay-behind aging populations shapes the (re)configuration of transnational networks for the elderly. In doing so, we situate the study of cross-border elder care within a complex web of familial and social relations.  

To deepen and broaden my research on migration, I am co-authoring a book with Peggy Levitt (Wellesley College and Harvard University), Erica Dobbs (Pomona College), and Ruxandra Paul (Amherst College). This book project synthesizes current studies of the construction, variation, and consequences of cross-border safety nets. It explores why social support – from nation-states, market forces, third sector, and interpersonal networks – is made available for some newcomer groups and not others. As this book demonstrates, the interplay between structural inequalities, cultural assumptions, group characteristics, and institutional responses not only affects how migrants are received but also profoundly shapes their life journeys. By comparing insights from cases across the globe, we seek to assess patterns of inclusion and exclusion among different groups of migrants.  

Prior to joining Villanova, I worked at the College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, VA), Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), and Hong Kong Baptist University (Hong Kong). I am teaching Introduction to Sociology in Spring, 2020 and look forward to offering courses in migration, culture, and care in the future.