Susan Garfin (1967)

Professor of Sociology, CSU, Sonoma

As a college freshman I made three vows: never to earn a Ph.D., never to study Sociology, and never to teach. With the help of UC, Berkeley, I violated all three. After completing my AB from Stanford in History in 1964 and my MA in International Relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1965, I returned to my hometown, Berkeley, searching for a career. I took a job as a research assistant at the Institute of International Studies, working for the late Ivan Vallier and becoming close friends with sociology graduate students, Jim Wood and Norma Wikler, before I even considered earning a Ph.D. myself. In this environment I learned that Sociology was the field that would allow me to synthesize my love for history, my fascination with religion, and my interest in comparative societies and world politics. In 1967 I entered the Berkeley Ph.D. program which I completed in 1973. I owe much to the many faculty members who gave me time and inspiration John Clausen, who lent me his office to write in, Robert Bellah, Leo Lowenthal, Ivan Vallier, and Neil Smelser who helped me through all stages of my Ph.D. (I must mention, too, David Mandelbaum from Anthropology and Joseph Levenson from History who also guided my comparative studies.) Herbert Blumer sent me to Sonoma State to apply for a teaching position in early 1970. Miraculously, Sonoma State hired me, and I have been teaching (in all of my beloved areas) there ever since.

Dissertation Title: 
Ecumenism and Modernization in American Protestantism