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Dr. Ade Ofunniyin is an Ifa practitioner, Cultural Anthropologist, and consultant. He was born in Charleston, South Carolina and lived in Harlem and the South Bronx, New York throughout his adolescent, teenage, and young adult life. He shares his story in hopes that it will inspire and encourage others to never give up on themselves and to be willing to travel the less traveled path. Dr. Ofunniyin was born with the gift of clairvoyance. His gift empowered him to see his life as it was unfolding. His visions were his guideposts. Sometimes the things that he saw for himself and others were not good or productive. He was forced to learn some of life’s very hard lessons at a young age. Drug addiction, alcoholism, juvenile detention, and finally prison at sixteen years old. Read DNA/Die Not Another and discover for yourself how Dr. Ofunniyin (Dr. O) advanced from a GED diploma to a PhD degree. His advice to anyone who might ask that question is, “If I could do it, you can do it also. But the successful transformation comes with a willingness to change your lifestyle. A willingness to let your experiences be stepping stones, leading to a life that is not without challenges; a life where you can see and know the wondrous workings and grace and mercy of Almighty God.”

To purchase Dr. Ofunniyin’s new book, check out amazon.com.



under: Faculty Spotlight

The first two weeks of the archaeology field school were spent working at the site of the Rose Plantation, which is a part of a 600 acre property called the Dill Property on James Island owned by the Charleston Museum.  We were working in an area where old maps showed structures that were probably part of this plantation.  We found remains of some structures and many artifacts that seem to suggest that we found some of it.

Weeks 3-6 were spent mostly at Hampton Plantation State Historic Site north of Charleston near McClellanville, SC.  The field school has worked on this site before but not in this location which was in a large field south of the main plantation house.  Our most productive excavation units were located at the southern end of this field, and a considerable distance from the plantation house. These excavations were overseen by David Jones, who coordinates the archaeological program for the State Park Service to include research archaeology and protection of archaeological resources.  He was assisted by Stacy Young, who is an archaeologist contracted in the past to excavate part of the old slave residential area at this plantation.

During this period students also rotated through two sites in downtown Charleston to get a feel for urban archaeology, which produces a very different set of challenges.  One site was at 86 Church Street, owned by the parents of archaeologist, Martha Middleton.  It ended up being a 4 1/2 foot deep single excavation unit with a lot going on in it.   The second site was the historic Manigault House, owned by and located across from the Charleston Museum.  Excavations were done both in the basement and under the porch.

Historic artifacts were found in all these locations, but lab analysis will be required to determine what it all means.  At Hampton Plantation not enough colonoware (pottery commonly made by African slaves, and possibly also Native Americans) was found to suggest that the structure(s) we think we uncovered were those of Africans.  There was also no window glass that is usually found in European-style structures.  The Seewee Indians were also residents in the area during the colonial period, and our Hampton site  may have something to do with them.  Lab analysis and, hopefully, more field school research there in two years will be necessary to sort this out.

Students read 21 professional articles on various phases of archaeology, learned to identify about 80 kinds of historic ceramics used for dating purposes, and did additional written work in addition to learning fieldwork skills.

For photos of the 2015 Archaeology Field School, please check out the CofC Sociology and Anthropology Facebook page.



under: Department Events

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Urban Studies Program held their annual Honors Reception on Tuesday, April 21 at the Alumni Hall, Randolph Hall.  Congratulations to the following students who were recognized at the event! Please see our Facebook post for photos.

School of Humanities and Social Sciences Scholars


Rebecca Daniels
Laura Mullett


Olivia Adams
Caitlin Bennett

Urban Studies:

Olivia Carmody
Deidre Carr

Departmental Honors


Olivia Adams
Caitlin Bennett

Outstanding Students


Shayna Bannister
Tessa Di Gennaro
Elizabeth Tuten


Zak Bartholomew
Grace Musser

Urban Studies:

Deidre Carr

Catherine Wood Parker Memorial Award
Polina Aleshina
Kathleen Holden

Jon Morter Memorial Award
Michael Chapman

Anthropology Fieldwork Award
Carolyn Howle

Alpha Kappa Delta Sociology Honor Society
Sarah Bald
Stephanie Brumit
Alarie Latham
Zachary Lipe
Shannon Morrison
Laura Mullett
Nina Rosenberg
Hannah Shoemaker
Amie Smith
Shannon Wischusen

Lambda Alpha Anthropology Honor Society
Alana Acuff
Holly Adington
Polina Aleshina
Caitlyn Bedenbaugh
Mariah Johnson
Emily Chicojay Moore
Mariel Dronson
Kelsey Fervier
Jordan Latham
Annika Liger
Mallory McGoff
Grace Musser
Catherine Rodda
Mary Stamato

under: Department Events

When Students Go to Prison

Posted by: Melissa Page | March 27, 2015 | No Comment |


It’s 7:30 a.m. on a Friday morning and students are mingling awkwardly outside the Education Center on St. Phillip Street. Dressed in baggy sweats and oversized shirts, the students engage in nervous chatter, waiting anxiously for the 7:45 departure time.

One student, rushing to class, is surprised to see her friend, in sweats, standing on the sidewalk with this group. “What are you doing here so early?” she asks.

The response: “I’m going to prison!”

In Professor Heath Hoffmann’s sociology classes, students have the opportunity each semester to tour Lieber Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in Ridgeville, SC. The three hour tour is led by up to 8 incarcerated men who the South Carolina Department of Corrections calls the Operation Behind Bars (OBB) team. The OBB program is a modified version of the “scared straight” programs that gained prominence in the 1970s by exposing juvenile offenders to the harsh realities of prison. After being confronted by those who are incarcerated and seeing firsthand the drudgery of everyday life behind bars, the hope was that juveniles would be deterred from future antisocial behavior (subsequent research found these programs did not have the deterrent effect that was anticipated).

“What I didn’t expect was the interaction with the people that we met. They were very nice and it was very, very hard to believe that they committed a crime. They seemed like normal people that you would talk to every day. So, it was kind of hard for me to know that they have changed but most of them are never going to get out [of prison] and that they are or they do seem like good people now but they did such bad things before that they’re kind of screwed in that they can never get out of prison. But It really changed my perspective a lot because I just totally see them as normal people and, you know, they’re not really—they’re criminals—but it definitely was not what I was expecting at all.” ~ Emma Ayers, Senior Public Health Student  

Having done nothing wrong besides enrolling in Professor Hoffmann’s class, students embark on a scaled down version of the “scared straight” experience. After being processed through security, the OBB team takes on the authority normally enjoyed by correctional officers. Hoffmann’s students are required to form two parallel lines; students are required to hold hands; and, before the tour commences, students are required to conduct a “count” to insure that all students are accounted for (just as those who are incarcerated do, 3-4 times each day).

Once the count has “cleared,” the OBB team leads students through the “yard” to tour a dorm. Here, about 140 men stand (or sit in wheelchairs) and mingle outside their cells as students get a glimpse of the 6’ x 10’ room that 2-3 men share. Students then walk to the “restricted housing unit” (RHU) (also known as “segregation” or “the hole”), as OBB team members yell at them to “walk faster” and “close up the lines.”

Inside the RHU, students are confronted by the stale, putrid air as men pound on their cell doors and scream out at them and the accompanying officers. Students pass through the mildewed showers used three times a week by those in the RHU, before moving into the recreation yard—8’ x 20’ enclosed cages that resemble oversized dog runs at an animal shelter.

The tour ends in the prison’s visitation room where each member of the OBB team shares his life story—his family life, the role of alcohol and other drugs in his life, the crime(s) each committed, the sentence he received and a warning to students to make good decisions and stay on their current path.

When asked why he takes his students to prison, Professor Hoffmann says, “So many of our society’s institutional shortcomings—be it within the economy, schools, politics and/or the family—pave a road to prison for many of our citizens. This is hopefully the only opportunity that my students will have to see the inside of a prison—an experience that sheds light on the almost default solution (prison) to dealing with those who break the law. This experience also challenges students’ assumptions about what people are like who are incarcerated.”

In fact, one student reported, “I definitely thought those 7 guys [the OBB team] were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. It was very hard to believe that they had killed someone or multiple people,” challenging her notion of what a “murderer” would be like. Katie Joiner, a first year student in the Honors College, also commented on how the incarcerated men she met were not consistent with her preconceived notions; “when you hear about murderers in the media…the media talks about the crime that was committed and only gives biographical information that is pertinent to the crime which is usually basic and negative. This makes sense in some ways and may be because most high profile murder cases are extreme examples of murder…I had always thought of murderers as though they were the most important thing about them; as though that was who they were essentially; as though their soul was a murderer. I was startled to realize that the murder was an event that came to define the person; not that the person was always and will always be a murderer. I’m not sure if that’s clear exactly, and ethically it may be that murder is the single most important part of a person because it’s so totally and fundamentally evil; but I had a hard time reconciling the fact that I was talking to murderers with some of the men standing before me. They were not first murderers—they had murdered. Regardless of the crime, I respected all of them. I would be interested however to meet some of the prisoners with less character to see if that shifted my perception. For example, some of the ones who were not in the character dorm or were on death row.”

So, why do students want to go to prison?

Rachel Park, a first year student in the Honors College, commented that the prison tour “was truly an eye-opening trip. Experiences like these teach you more than any college class could…For the most part, they [the OBB team members] are just like us and they kept bringing this up:  that you’re just one bad decision away from being behind these bars.  You could see in their eyes and hear when they shared their testimonies that they would trade their place with us any day. It seemed they all regretted their decisions and it was eye-opening—truly eye-opening—to see and to hear from the men.”

Professor Hoffmann also hopes that the prison tours will give students the opportunity to examine the efficacy of prison for responding to crime and deterring future criminal behavior among those who are incarcerated. Hoffmann is confident that this level of reflection is occurring among his students, referencing the response of Katie, the Honors College student quoted above, who notes, “Upon leaving Lieber, I was struck by how much potential the prison system has; which may not be the best reaction upon leaving. I think it would really be a good thing for society to reprimand deviance and rehabilitate people back into society who have made really bad mistakes and for whatever reason have gotten caught up in this cycle of deviance. I was also struck by how broken it is right now. Well, first I had sort of forgotten weirdly that the prison is a state entity and what all that entails. I think I assumed that the problems I see in SC public schools, in SC libraries and DSS and so would not be present in South Carolina prisons. But I mean, of course they are. The prisons are, it seems, underfunded and certainly understaffed just like many other state departments; there seems to be a tangle of bureaucracy and a lot of good ideas were being executed poorly or slowly. For example, the idea of the character dorm was a really good one but it was being rolled out so slowly and so narrowly that I’m not sure that it’s really effective and it’s definitely not going to be a broad solution within the next year.”

under: Department Events, Faculty Spotlight, Student Spotlight

Reba Parker Defines Peace (V.)

Posted by: Melissa Page | December 18, 2014 | No Comment |


Around the holidays, the idea of peace on Earth repeated throughout Christmas carols, holiday cards and season’s greetings is just that – an idea. To many, it’s abstract feeling that’s nice to wish for and easy to write off among more pressing priorities.

peace on Earth

But College of Charleston Professor of Sociology Reba Parker argues that peace is something else entirely. “The first question I ask students in my Sociology of Peace class is, ‘Is peace possible?’ Most of them see peace as a noun, they think about world peace as this lofty, impossible goal. So they say no.

EXPLORE: Learn more about the College’s sociology and anthropology department

“Over the course of the class, though,” Parker continued, “They begin to see peace as a verb, a process that begins in a single relationship and ripples outward.”

Parker, who received her master’s in theology before becoming interested in peace studies and social justice, is an applied sociologist. This means, “I’m trying to find solutions for questions and social problems,” she explained. “When it comes to peace studies, I’m looking at strategic ways a culture can begin the process of peace. At the micro level, this happens with individuals and families. It transcends to the local level and then ultimately to a global level.”

Her Sociology of Peace classes touch on all three levels, beginning with interpersonal communication tactics that can reduce violence in one-on-one or family relationships at the micro level. Her students snowball into the global level by looking at public policies, environmental concerns and organizations, violent crime rates and other factors measured on the Global Peace Index – a scale that quantifies peace in 162 countries by analyzing 22 components.

But it’s at the local level that Parker’s students can shine. In the time she’s taught 35-or-so courses at the College, Parker and her students have engaged with local schools to teach and celebrate peace, and they have planted more than 20 peace poles in Charleston’s public spaces.

Peace on Earth

“A peace pole is an eight-foot-tall, four-sided pole that’s planted three feet in the ground. It says, “May peace prevail on earth” in four languages (one on each side),” Parker said. “We planted the first peace pole, with permission from Mayor Joe Riley, at Brittlebank Park, and we’ve planted them at Sanders Clyde and James Simons elementary schools.”

The poles are more than a small-scale art installation. Parker contends they serve two purposes – to remind passersby that peace is possible, and to incorporate a global awareness into their lives.

“For example, at James Simons Elementary we put the pole in a parking circle that parents drive

around as the pick up and drop off their kids for school,” Parker said. “So, parents might be arguing in the car or something, and when they see the peace pole they’re reminded to think about how they communicate, to be more peaceful. For the children, it’s a sign that they’re entering a peaceful place.”

In Sociology of Peace, Parker’s students are reminded that many primary students across the U.S. and the world don’t have the luxury of feeling safe in their schools. In the face of the many violent attacks, conflicts and atrocities 2014 witnessed, Parker notes that many people feel skeptical about peace.

Peace on Earth

“It’s hard to look at the world and think an end to the violence is possible,” Parker said. “But you see change, and the demand for change, at a grassroots level in the form of protests and movements like the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. That’s a good sign. Change is a catalyst for peace.”

Parker believes that the fact that peace itself is changeable and moveable helps people to better grasp that it can be realized. She references the Global Peace Index, saying, “You can actually see if a country is moving up or down the scale. For instance, if you look at Germany, which was once one of the most war-prone countries in the world, it’s now ranked the 17th-most peaceful country. Watching these rankings change and understanding how peace is measured makes it a more accessible process”

Parker credits strategic planning for the positive movements among once-violent countries like Germany and Japan. “There are strategies for peace just like there are strategies for war,” she said.

Those strategies, many of which are implemented by Canada (ranked 10th on the Index to the U.S.’ 101), include minimizing the gap between the wealthy and the poor, working toward environmental protection and sustainable energy, providing benefits like healthcare and paid maternity leave across the board, and healthy relationships with neighboring countries.

As Sociology of Peace oscillates between macro ideals and micro tactics for peace, Parker observes her students’ perspectives warming to new possibilities.

“At the end of the year I ask my students that same question – ‘Is peace possible?’ – and they all say, ‘Yes. Absolutely.’”

under: Faculty Spotlight

Professor Reba Parker recently organized a Skype lecture from London with Jeremy Gilley, the Founder of Peace One Day.  The event was sponsored by the First Year Experience program and attended by students from the College of Charleston and The Citadel.  A brief bio on Jeremy Gilley is below.
Skype2  IMG_3533

In 1998, Gilley began to make the Peace One Day documentary, eventually deciding to aim for a UN resolution formalising the idea. This goal was reached in 2001 when UN GA resolution (A/Res/55/282), put forward by the UK and Costa Rican Governments, was unanimously adopted to establish the first ever day of global ceasefire and non-violence fixed in the calendar as 21 September annually. This resolution drew on a 1981 UN resolution that had declared the third Tuesday of September the international day of peace.[3]

Gilley organised two concerts at Brixton Academy, London, on 21 September 2002 and 2003. In 2004, the Peace One Day documentary premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival, then the BBC aired the documentary in September of the same year. On the other side of the Atlantic in 2005, Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee Miller hosted the North American Film Premiere to highlight Peace Day.

In May 2006, the Peace One Day Citizenship Resource Pack was launched after conversations with over 30,000 young people and teachers. In 2007, a second edition of the Citizenship Resource Pack was made available to every secondary school in the UK.

Gilley produced and filmed The Day After Peace, in association with the BBC. The film documents the first ever life-saving activity on the day – polio vaccinations on 21 September 2007 in insecure regions of south and east Afghanistan. In May 2008 Jeremy Gilley received the award Campaigner of the Year.[4][5]

In early September 2008 Gilley and Jude Law travelled to Afghanistan to screen The Day After Peace there, Hamid Karzai, and document preparations for the polio vaccination on 21 September 2008 of 1.85 million children under 5 years old, in seven Afghan provinces where conflict has previously prevented access.[6]

On 21 September 2010, the Board of the Carnegie Foundation announced that Peace One Day and Jeremy Gilley would be the recipient of the Wateler Peace Prize.[7]

On 6 December 2011, Gilley was a founding signatory of the Pledge to Peace at the Peace and Well Being Conference at the European Parliament in Brussels.[8]


under: CofC Events, Department Events, Faculty Spotlight


Grad School Fair

under: CofC Events

Update from Dr. Finnan in India

Posted by: Melissa Page | November 3, 2014 | No Comment |

Dr. Finnan shares some of her experiences in India so far:





under: Faculty Spotlight

Through funding available from the Jon Morter Memorial Award, Heather Thomas (ANTH/ARCH ’15) participated in the Dixie Plantation Field School during Summer 2014.  Read more about her experience below.

Last Summer I participated in the maymester field school held at Dixie Plantation. It was a truly life changing and, at times, beautiful experience. My participation in the field school last summer at Dixie has been monumental to my success in the field of Archaeology. What I learned in those few short weeks has changed many of my views on what I have been learning in the classroom throughout my time as an Anthropology/Archaeology major.

Through the field school at Dixie I was able to get a real “hands on” grasp of all the concepts that I had been taught in earlier Anthropology courses and in Introduction to Archaeology. During field school I got to go outside and turn up the soil with my own hands which was a very eye opening experience for me. During classes in the past my professors would show pictures of nameless archaeologists brushing away at artifacts in order to portray the proper technique; through field school I was the archaeologist and I got to watch as amazing things were taken out of the ground. I’ll admit that at the beginning of field school motions were unsure and probably not full of technique but by the end of the maymester course my motions not only became more precise but I also began to see why all of the technique I had only read about before was so important. Good technique in Archaeology is vital in order to perform excavations correctly and I do not think I would have taken this truth as seriously had I not attended field school last summer.


In addition to reinforcing my classroom learning field school also taught me to be a part of a team. Working with others is a vital skill that not only makes a person more employable but also more enjoyable to work with in general; through field school I definitely gained a strong sense of team work. At the beginning of the experience I was only familiar with one person and by the end of it I had bonded with nearly everyone. When you’re down in the trenches, as some say, you learn to work together toward a common goal. If everyone in a unit is not clear on the ultimate goal then the unit will not be excavate properly or it could take much longer than necessary. Through working in a group I learned how to voice my own opinions while still being respectful of the opinions of others. Field school helped me realize that everyone, at one time or another, should be both a leader and a follower as well. I know that these skills will become very important when I am applying for and performing at jobs in the future.

Heather2The field itself also must be discussed when thinking about the way I spent my summer. Dixie Plantation is an absolutely beautiful location and I am so glad I was privileged enough to be apart of a team that worked there. The weather was perfect for work, although a little hot on some days, and the excavation area was shaded by tall and beautiful trees. I know such conditions are not the normal for field work but actually going out into the field made me realize how much I really love working outdoors. I think it takes a certain personality to enjoy being outside with no facilities or no modern technology for most of the day and I really enjoyed my time away from the pressures of modern society; such as cell phones and the media. Working in the field with nothing but the sun above me and dirt below me was a very cleansing experience. I felt much more connected with the past than I ever had while reading pages from a textbook. It was very interesting thought to look at certain views and think people in the past saw it in a very similar way.

Field school has helped me to progress and discover the career paths I may want to pursue in the future. It has brought me closer to individuals that share my passion; especially professors who are currently involved in the field and such networking is imperative to be successful. My summer experience at Dixie also brought me closer to nature and closer to the people of the past; an experience that would be impossible to find in any other form. For these reasons and many others I am so grateful I got the opportunity to participate in the summer field school at the College of Charleston.

The Key

The Jon Morter Memorial Award supports participation of Anthropology majors interested in archaeology in the archaeological field school co-sponsored by the Anthropology program and the Charleston Museum or in another archaeological field school.  If you would like to contribute to awards that support student opportunities such as Steven’s, please see our website athttp://sociology.cofc.edu/giving/index.php

under: Student Spotlight

Megan Cain (ANTH/ARTS ’15) was one of the 2014 recipients of the Catherine Wood Parker Memorial Award which afforded her the experience to attend an ethnographic field school in Thailand.  Below is her first-person account of the experience and her reflections on how it will shape her future career path.

thailand1The opportunity to participate in NC State’s 2014 Thailand Ethnographic Field School this past summer was an experience I would be willing to repeat again and again. I had an absolutely amazing time, during which I learned countless lessons about not only Thai society, but also about America, anthropology, and myself as well. The field school also caused me to question the direction of my career path, deepening suspicions I have had about the best course for me to take. In a way, this trip was a make it or break it experience for me – I had always liked the idea of extensive travel but was unsure if I would like the actual reality of it. This experience definitely confirmed the feeling that travel is something I decidedly want to factor majorly in my future, as I found that my love of exploring other cultures in not only limited to books.

I had so many amazing experiences in Thailand. I had previously worried that the language barrier would make communication impossible, but I found that not to be the case. Whether I was spending the day simply sitting with a Muslim woman working in the local Buddhist temple, or being led around a park by a man who spoke no English as he showed me different species of flowers, I had so many memorable interactions and conversations with locals. The times I met with someone who spoke English were no less valuable, though rarer. Through my interactions with Thais, I realized very soon after arriving in Thailand – despite which continent, what language, style of dress, appearance – despite any of these differences one may encounter – people are alike. While the shape may differ, what they want out of life is made out of the same matter as what I do.


In this way, travel actually encouraged me to think of the ways humanity is undeniably the same just as much as I experienced and valued the differences in cultures. Traveling also makes one question everything – from beauty standards to fundamental rights. Or maybe “evaluate” it a better word to use.  In this way I think travel is crucial to make people better-informed, wiser, and more confident in their own abilities and in their values as well. I challenged myself in a variety of ways, and in ways I never imagined I would or that I thought I could accomplish. I think that travel places one outside of one’s comfort zone, so limits and boundaries are put to the test, and stretched beyond what one may have thought he or she was capable.

For this I am very thankful I was able to have this opportunity, as I feel I am a more confident, well-rounded thailand2individual because of it. I know my knowledge of the world is lacking, but I now have the tools to remedy some of those gaps bit by bit. Whatever form my path eventually takes, after participating in this field school program I feel that I am much better equipped to handle what may come my way. Even if I suddenly turned my focus in a completely different direction, I think the benefits that result from travel are indispensable to people of any career field.

The Catherine Wood Parker Memorial Award supports Anthropology majors wishing to participate in international travel courses or field schools.  If you would like to contribute to awards that support student opportunities such as Caitlin’s, please see our website at http://sociology.cofc.edu/giving/index.php.

under: Student Spotlight

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