Social Research and Discussion Group (SRDG)

What is the SRDG?

The SRDG is an annual program at the Department of Sociology & Anthropology. Professor Perez and up to 12 students will meet six times during the academic year (fall and winter terms). For an hour, the group will have an informal conversation about a book designated in advance. The goal is to provide students an opportunity to connect with each other and faculty, read books with a social science perspective in mind, and further develop their analytical skills.

The theme for the 2023-2024 academic year is "Empathy in a troubled America."

How do I join?

Students can apply to be a fellow by completing the brief questionnaire at the bottom of this page. The deadline for applications is July 15, 2023. Decisions about admission to the group will be announced in late summer.

What are the responsibilities of a fellow?

Fellows are expected to participate in at least five of the six meetings and share with others their views on the book assigned. There are no tests or papers required. At the end of the academic year, participants who have attended the required number of meetings will receive a certificate.

What is the cost?

Participation is free! There are no fees, and dinner is covered by SOAN. You can purchase the books, or get them from the library.

I am planning to study abroad during one of the terms, can I still participate?

Yes you can, students travelling abroad on a program associated with the university will receive a waiver for the meetings in which they are outside the country.

Where can I find more information?

For questions, please email Dr. Perez at

2023-2024 SRDG Theme

"Empathy in a troubled America"

In recent years, different processes have exacerbated divisions in American society. Rising polarization has undermined the shared understandings on which democracy depends. Fear, antagonism, hatred appear to become more common each day, with tragic consequences. 

The fifth cohort of the Social Research and Discussion Group aims to explore this question: why are Americans so divided, so anxious, so angry? We will read books that address contentious issues with an empathic approach in mind. The goal is to appreciate the struggles, concerns, and hopes of different groups in this country. Hopefully, this will give us the opportunity to overcome our preconceptions about each other and understand our diverse, complex, and troubled nation better.

Books in the Series

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015), Between the World and Me
  • Jennifer Carlson (2015), Citizen Protectors
    Jason de Leon (2015), The Land of Open Graves
  • Arlie Russell Hochschild (2016), Strangers in Their Own Land
  • Amy Goldstein (2016), Janesville, An American Story
  • Anne Case and Angus Deaton (2020), Deaths of Despair