Dr. Kathleen Lowney: An Unconventional Approach to Teaching

August 31, 2011

Sara Lynn McCall Graduate Assistant, Communications Unit

Dr. Kathleen Lowney: An Unconventional Approach to Teaching


VALDOSTA -- Dr. Kathleen S. Lowney considers it her responsibility to make sure that her students get all they can from the classroom, sometimes in unconventional ways. That’s why she came up with the idea last year to have her students do a flash mob to study crowd behavior.

“I love teaching and I love teaching at VSU. Now, I am primarily teaching super sections and while they bring some challenges, I really enjoy creating new ways to engage students in learning how to use their sociological imaginations,” the sociology professor said. “I want them to leave class thinking differently about how the world works and their place in it. We are lucky to have an excellent infrastructure, such as IT and E-learning staff who are there for faculty, especially those teaching super sections.”

Her methods of teaching, including having in-class debates over culture change or research ethics, were rewarded during Convocation when she received the 2011 Excellence in Teaching Award. She can’t quite explain how much the award meant to her.

“Wow, that's hard to put into words. It took my breath away, when I learned I won it. I am honored,” the editor of the American Sociological Association’s journal, Teaching Sociology, said. “All I can say is that I am always trying to create good classroom experiences, and I know that I fail some of the time. Those times energize me to try again.”

Lowney came to VSU in 1987 after her husband began teaching in the Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences department in 1985. Since then, her professional contributions to the university have been tremendous. When she’s not spending hours grading online assignments and reviewing new manuscripts for “Teaching Sociology,” she does find spare moments for personal enjoyment, such as knitting during the few “cold” months.

“On Fridays, anyone can see me at the earliest films -- I love popular culture such as TV and films,” Lowney said. “I just joined Netflix this summer -- now I don't even have to go anywhere to watch the movies I want to see!”