Dr. Song: writer, professor and Hula-Hooper
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Meet Dr. Felicia Wu Song, the new sociology and anthropology chair as of this fall. She recently moved from her position as a faculty member at Louisiana State University in the Manship School of Mass Communication.
Growing up in the New Jersey suburbs with her parents and older brother, Song accepted Christ at a young age while attending the Chinese church she was raised in. She went to college at Yale University and was involved in Intervarsity, which was extremely formative in her growth as a Christian.
“Like many people, it wasn’t until college that things started clicking and making sense,” said Song. Beginning as a history major interested in non-fiction writing and social history, Song realized that as a Christian she had tools to think about the world. She then became fascinated with media and its effects on society.
Song has been married since 2000 to her husband Edward, who is currently a philosopher in residence at Westmont. The couple met at Yale and have two children together: Hannah, age nine, and Eli, age four.
Song’s current endeavor is discovering the role of “mommy blogs” in shaping contemporary motherhood. Her first book, “Virtual Communities: Bowling Alone, Online Together,” was published in 2009.
Song states in her first chapter, “This book examines how the technical conditions of virtual communities frame our contemporary beliefs and assumptions about community and the individual. In a cultural study of 30 award-winning virtual communities, it explores the implications of a social world and public life increasingly mediated by technology.”
So what has Song observed about the effects media has on Westmont culture even in her short time here? We don’t wear earbuds when we walk to class. “That says something significant about the communal life here,” she said.
Song explained how wearing earbuds displays a lack of availability, and by not having them in, an individual is physically open to other people. She often did not see people without their earbuds in at LSU or places like New York City. “[This] is different, which is great,” she said.
Song is teaching Sociological Theory and Sociology of Social Media classes this fall. Third-year Mackenzie Holman is in both of her classes. “I get the sense that she is always wanting to learn about the world, even from us, as students, and that she wants to use her knowledge to actually begin to correct inequality and injustice in our society,” said Holman.
Song said she has a lot to learn now that she is at a Christian institution, as opposed to the secular spheres she has been in previously. However, she recognizes there are many similarities because in both circles people struggle with and engage in the same challenges. She hopes she can encourage students and colleagues to not be anxious about entering into secular spheres, because Christians are needed everywhere.
She urges students to get off campus and explore Santa Barbara. “College was a wonderful experience and so formative,” she said. “Westmont offers so much, which is great, but getting into and knowing what is really going on in Santa Barbara and Montecito is so important and valuable.”
A final fun fact about Dr. Felicia Wu Song: she is a fabulous Hula-Hooper.