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  • Coordinators, Sociology Co-ops
  • Faculty Sponsor, Alpha Kappa Delta National Sociology Honors Society


Research and Teaching Interests

Social construction of race and ethnicity, globalization, research methods, applied sociology, visual sociology

Current research

Joan Ferrante is an educator, author, consultant, speaker, filmmaker and founder-director of The Mourning the Creation of Racial Categories (MCRC) Project. MCRC is a highly collaborative and interpretive project that uses dance, music, theater, poetry, and visualization to tell the human stories of separation, abandonment, and neglect behind the creation of racial categories in the U.S. One hallmark of the MCRC Project is that discussions of race are infused with art, which promotes engagement, not defensiveness.

While teaching courses about race, Ferrante observed her students wrestling with the weight of their racial classification. After teaching for over 30 years, she became convinced that academic concepts alone, however compelling, were not enough to engage students in deeply meaningful ways. She invited students and faculty to collaborate on a project that would engage audiences creatively and emotionally with race - and The MCRC Project was born. They will soon release their fifth film on race. For more on the films and other projects, go to: 

Additionally, I am always doing research to update two textbooks, Sociology: A Global Perspective (9th edition) and Seeing Sociology (3rd edition).  In Sociology: A Global Perspective I present globalization as an ever-accelerating force pulling people, groups, organization, communities and countries into a web of transnational relationships. Globalization is a social force that is experienced and launched locally.  In the latest edition I emphasize key dynamics underlying globalization including industrial food, mass surveillance and a knowledge economy and the changing environment. 

In Seeing Sociology: An Introduction the book capitalizes on the instructional value of photographs as tools for provoking thought and clarifying abstract concepts. Photographs, captions and text are seamlessly integrated and have equal significance in showcasing how sociologists observe, interpret and analyze the world around them.  In connection to the third edition of this textbook, NKU photography major and sociology minor Rachel Ellison has been awarded an Undergraduate Research Council Award to travel to Washington, DC, the four poorest counties in Kentucky and the U.S. border with Mexico to take photographs for the textbook. We are fortune to have professor of visual arts, Barbara Houghton as consultant and mentor to Rachel. 

Academic degrees

  • Ph.D. University of Cincinnati, 1984
  • M.A. Univeristy of Cincinnati, 1979
  • B.S. Northern Kentucky University, 1977


  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Global Inequalities
  • Race and Ethnic Relations
  • Research Methods
  • World Patterns of Race and Ethnicity
  • Contemporary Theory


  • Frank Milburn Sinton Outstanding Professor Award
  • Outstanding Junior Faculty Award
  • Since 1992 royalties from Seeing Sociology and Sociology: A Global Perspective has supported a study abroad scholarship known as Beyond the Classroom to which any NKU student who has used one of these books (new or used) can apply.

Selected Publications

  • Ferrante, Joan. Seeing Sociology: An Introduction.  Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning [2011 - 1st ed; 2013 - 2nd ed; 2015 - 3rd ed].
  • Ferrante, Joan. Sociology:  A Global Perspective. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning [1992-1st ed.; 1995-2nd ed.; 1998-3rd ed.; 2000-4th ed.; 2003-5th ed.; 2006-6th ed.; 2008-7th ed., 2011-enhanced edition; 2013 - 8th ed; 2014- 9th ed.]
  • Ferrante, Joan. The Social Construction of Race in the United States (with Prince Brown, Jr.).  Addison Wesley Longman. [1998-1st ed.; 2001-2nd ed.].