My teaching and research interests stem from an innate curiosity about the places I live and their place the broader world. Sociologically these interests center on how inequalities are socially organized and structure access to resources and opportunities in our society. I want to understand how people take action in groups, organizations, or communities to pursue (or resist) social change that reduces inequalities. This interesting and important line of inquiry integrates my long-standing research interests in democratization, social movements and protest, and non-profit and advocacy organizations with other research work on environmental justice, the social impact natural hazards, and my current project on the repression and policing of protest.
I graduated from Salinas (CA) High School in 1976, received an AA degree from Hartnell College in 1979, a BA in Theology and Greek from the Moody Bible Institute (Chicago) in 1981, and an MA in Cross-Cultural Communication from Wheaton College in 1983. From 1983 to 1995 I lived in the District of Columbia and pursued a range of jobs in the Washington area before returning to graduate school in my early 30s. Through my late 20s and graduate school, I was a Community Organizer for an African-American community action program, Housing Inspector and tenant-landlord mediator for the Section 8 program, bicycle courier, carpenter, chauffer, non-profit organization Interim Director and community activist on poverty, housing and refugee issues, Adjunct Instructor of Sociology, and institutional data analyst for the Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools. I received my PhD in Sociology from The Catholic University of America in 1995 and joined the faculty at East Carolina University in 1995 at the age of 37 and became Chair of the Sociology Department in July 2015. I have been married to Terri Edwards since 1983. She is the Director of the Office of Student Development and Academic Support at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine. We have two sons both of whom graduated from JH Rose High School in Greenville and then from NC State in 2014 and 2016.