"Understanding the relationship between self and society informs practices that create real, positive social changes for all."
After finishing his Ph.D., Ferguson taught in several types of institutions, both in larger cities and rural areas. “Such a wide range of experiences has prepared me to work with a growing and changing student body,” he says. “I’ve also been blessed to work with great mentors in the field. They’ve allowed me to hone my craft as a sociologist and helped me learn from their years of experience in the discipline.”
One of the research projects Ferguson is working on involves looking at social factors and how they relate to success of African-American students in the field of biology. “A large part of my scholarly research is tied to increasing access and opportunity for students of color.”
Identifying the impact of social issues is also one of his scholarly interests. “Another collaborative study I’m involved with consists of examining racial attitudes in Olmsted County, Minnesota,” he says. “I feel that both subjects have allowed me to engage in important research that has implications for many people in our society.”
As a sociologist, Ferguson feels compelled to uncover the depth to which social forces affect our lives. “My research interests range from the study of racial identity acquisition to examining the educational pipeline for students of color. The common thread is that society has a significant impact on our lived experience,” he says. “Understanding the relationship between self and society informs practices that create real, positive social changes for all.”
Ferguson wanted to become a liberal arts professor because he believes that positive change happens through the pursuit of knowledge from a variety of sources. “A liberal arts education allows students to explore various aspects of our world and ask difficult questions, ones that require complex interdisciplinary answers,” he says. “As an educator, I knew that I wanted to be on this journey with students. Being a professor at Luther affords me this privilege.”
Along with being a sociology professor, Ferguson is involved in other areas at Luther. “I represent Luther College as the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Chicago Program Social Justice Liaison,” he says. “In this capacity, I get to assist students in working in an interdisciplinary environment in an urban setting. Additionally, I serve as an advisory committee member for the position of Dean of Equity and Inclusion at Luther College.”