Allison Vetter

Associate Professor of Sociology

Sociology is related to everything. It’s about our lives, how we function and relate to one another.

Allison Vetter grew up on an organic farm in “small town” Nebraska.

Today, as a sociology professor, she credits her upbringing for shaping her views and aspirations.

“My dad has farmed since 1975. I really see what he does as a form of public service, and I think he and mom role modeled for us that it was important to be involved in the community,” Vetter said. “And his philosophy of the land was ‘leave where you are a better place than it was when you got there.’”

When she attended college and took a sociology course, Vetter discovered the path she wanted to take.

“It just clicked. It made sense with the world view that I had in a way that no other course did.”

During her senior year in college, Vetter decided to pursue teaching.

“I had just taken research methods, and most students hate it. But I was the nerd who loved it,” she said. Her professor pulled her aside and asked if she had considered graduate school. He urged Vetter to get her Ph.D. and teach.

“She saw something in me that I didn’t. She took me under her wing, and I still stay in touch with her.

Sociology encompasses a broad spectrum of issues, according to Vetter. “I think of human interactions and group behavior,” she said. “You could be studying a particular group or can look at society as a whole.”

And Vetter believes sociologists should be expected to help solve many of society’s most visible issues.

“We see it as our responsibility as scholars to help come up with solutions to racism, sexism, homophobia, inequality, poverty and whatever. We should be the experts on those kind of things.

“For instance, here’s what we know about an issue, here are the factors that we know are linked to that issue, and here are some consequences of the social structure we have now. So what changes could we make in order to make things better?”

In the classroom, Vetter said she talks about issues that will interest her students. And she will sometimes introduce provocative topics.

“Sociologists often talk about things that are controversial,” she said. “You don’t necessarily have to agree with this or like that, but it exists in our society and I’m not doing my job as a sociologist if we don’t at least talk about it. You have to think about it, but you don’t have to change your mind.”

Vetter said she has developed a passion for teaching sociology.

“I get excited about these issues, and maybe it’s part of that social justice, public service thing that’s in my background. But not everything we see or read is the way it is. A lot of popular press information isn’t necessarily based on science, but on a random sample of what’s out there. We operate on a set of assumptions that aren’t necessarily supported by accurate information.”

From criminology, social work and counseling, to research, law and marketing, a degree in sociology can be beneficial for a variety of careers, Vetter said. 

Department of Sociology, Human Services and Criminal Justice

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Degree and School:
Ph.D., University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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