Alan Jay Spector, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

Alan J. Spector


Currently focused on Race and Ethnic Diversity, Introductory Sociology, Social Problems, and International Change. Active on the Board of the Center for Global Studies and the Ronald E. McNair Program

Research Overview

Why do people believe racist myths? Why do people believe ideas that make them feel good for the moment but damage them in the longer run? Internationally, I have studied these issues in Europe, Africa and most recently, especially India. I have also researched economic class stratification in the USA and the processes that lead to social problems.

If you want to change the world for the better, you have to help change the way people think about the world. If you want to help people think more clearly about the world, you have to first explore and understand why you believe what you believe.

Select Publications

Neoliberalism and the Rise of Authoritarianism in the United States, International Review of Modern Sociology, 2019

Decade of Turbulence: Social Movements and Rebellion in the 1960’s, Palgrave Handbook of Social Movements, Revolution, and Social Transformation.

Rod Bush: Lessons of a Radical Black Scholar, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity

Teaching Focus

Exploring what causes social problems, especially racism, sexism and economic class discrimination by using the “Socratic Method” of posing sharp questions and reducing them down to core issues through evidence. Analogies are often utilized to describe processes but analogies prove nothing and are supplemented with evidence. Students can learn facts from books; classes are for exploring issues.

Previous Roles

In the past, and present, active in a variety of community organizations dealing with issues of social inequality and social justice, especially dealing with race-ethnic discrimination. Was a full-time traveling organizer for 3 years in the movement to end the Vietnam War.

Alan J. Spector



  • Ph.D. – Sociology, Northwestern University
  • B.A. – Philosophy, University of Wisconsin

Areas of Expertise

  • Race and Ethnic Relations
  • International Change Pedagogy
  • Social Movements/Social Change
  • Social Problems
  • Social Theory – Marx, Weber, Durkheim


Credentials, Accreditations & Awards

  • Recipient of the campus-wide Outstanding Teacher Award
  • Recipient of the campus-wide Outstanding Scholar Award
  • Co-Authored book recipient of a national award
  • Honored by TRIO program
  • Past President – Association for Humanist Sociology