College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies

Sacramento State has been awarded a five-year, $895,326 grant from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to launch a project for student researchers called Pathways: Successful Transitions To and Through Higher Education.

The Pathways Fellows program prepares highly qualified diverse current and former students for doctorates and careers in rigorous educational research. Pathways Fellows and Associates work in research teams with Faculty Research Mentors, serve paid apprenticeships at prominent education research and policy centers and institutes, and receiving mentoring for entrance into a doctoral program. Only four universities in the nation received funding from the DOE’s Institute of Education Sciences to create training programs that will develop a more diverse field of education researchers.

All of the 2017 Pathways Fellows have received, or are completing degrees, from departments in SSIS:

They had five Faculty Research Mentors working with our teams of Fellows, including one from SSIS:

  • Rob Wassmer, PPA

Rob served as a mentor to two students, guiding them during this spring 2017 semester toward research on charter schools.

Pathways Training Fellows and Associates, 2017

  • · Brent Clark, Jr., Sociology, Masters student
  • · China Duncan, Liberal Studies and Teaching Credential, Sac State alum and current k-12 teacher
  • · Glendon Hyde, Anthropology, undergraduate student
  • · Christian Joy Lewis, Sociology, Masters student
  • · Jasmine Nguyen, Sociology, undergraduate student
  • · Larissa Overton, Psychology, undergraduate student
  • · Manuel Ramirez, Psychology, Sac State alum
  • · Tseng Vang (first name pronounced “Chang”), Psychology, Masters student
  • · Ashlyn Weaver, Special Major, SSIS, undergraduate student
  • · Erica Zamora, Ethnic Studies, undergraduate student
  • · Laura Zaragoza, Sociology, Masters student

Academic Department Highlights


  • Introduced      new undergraduate curriculum comprising three concentrations (Archaeology      & Biological Anthropology, Culture, Language & Society; and      General Anthropology) with an eye on student success. The concentrations      afford students an opportunity to focus on the area anthropological      enquiry that are of interest to them; and, equip themselves adequately in      preparation for post baccalaureate careers.
  • Received      generous contribution from Dr. John Connor and Mrs. Joan Connor in support      of the John Connor Scholarship Award for undergraduate students majoring      in Anthropology.
  • The      Anthropology Musuem received a generous gift of ethnographic collection      from Dr. Gilbert Herdt. In addition to making available more resources for      learning about Polynesian societies, this unique collection will be      integral to the department’s attempt to provide our majors an opportunity      to engage in experiential learning
  • Dr.      Gilbert Herdt was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Sacramento      State Alumni Association and University.
  • Dr.      Terri C. Castaneda was awarded the 2016 Daniel J. Crowley Award for      Meritorious Service by the Southwestern Anthropological Association for      her service to the association.


  • There are two awardees for the Renaissance Scholarship – Julie Garcia and Felicia Tafoya


  • Model UN conference in New York and many student awards (supported financially by an IRA grant, the college of SSIS, the department, and the Retirees Association)
  • Transitioning Sacramento Semester Director/Internship Coordinator
  • Move to change the department name from Government to Political Science
  • Patrick Cannon’s Fulbright in South Africa this spring
  • New Certificate Program for Capital Fellows
  • James Rae was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach American Politics and American Foreign Policy at Beijing Foreign Studies University (Beiwai) in Beijing, China for the 2017/18 academic year. This is his second Fulbright award, from 2011-13 he was a Visiting Scholar at China Foreign Affairs University.


Student Success/Graduation Initiative

  • Curriculum Redesign: Department recently approved a curriculum redesign that increases articulation with the community college transfer model curriculum, increases lower division requirements/decreases upper division requirements, increases opportunities for career-related coursework, and allows for more flexibility within some major categories with the goal of enhancing student success and decreasing time to graduation. Program updates are also being developed for two graduate tracks: Applied Behavior Analysis and Industrial-Organizational.
  • Chancellor’s Office Course Redesign with Technology Awards 2016-17
    • De-Laine Cyrenne
    • Sharon Furtak
    • Lisa Harrison
    • Sarah Strand

Research conference highlights:

  • Hosted our annual Departmental Research Conference (Chair Phillip Akutsu; 41 posters, more than 430 attendees)
  • Hosted Western Psychological Association Conference (Co-Chairs Larry Meyers and Rebecca Cameron, highest pre-registration on record at 2213)

Awards to faculty:

  • Megan Heinicke was selected for a CSUS Retiree Association, Faculty Development Grant (April 2017) for maintaining an exemplary balance among teaching excellence, scholarship, and service.

Awards to students (does not include departmental awards):

Western Psychological Association (WPA, April 2017)

  • Rosalyn Sandoval (Larry Meyers, mentor) has been selected as the recipient of the Barbara Tabachnick Award for Outstanding Application of Quantitative Methods for WPA 2017; she had three structural equation modeling poster submissions that scored 100%. This is the second year in a row that she has won this award.
  • Zachary Goodman (Greg Kim, mentor) has been chosen for a Western Psychological Foundation Scholarship Award.

Sacramento State 2017 Student Research Symposium (March 2017)

  • Christina Montes, who presented "Using Awareness Training to Reduce College Students' Speech Disfluencies in Public Speaking" was selected to represent our campus at the 31st Annual CSU Student Research Competition at Cal Poly Luis Obispo in late April.

California Association for Behavior Analysis Conference (CalABA, February 2017)

  • Katie Copsey (Megan Heinicke or Caio Miguel, mentor) and Amanda Chastain (Megan Heinicke or Caio Miguel, mentor) received the two B.F. Skinner Awards for graduate research in California.

American Psychological Association Division 12, Clinical Psychology (APA, August 2016)

  • 2016 APA Convention Student Poster Award-Zachary Goodman (Greg Kim, mentor) presented “Impact of Depression on Future Aspirations through Self-Efficacy” authored by Zachary Goodman, Tiana Osborne, Tseng Vang, Bianca Sprouse, & Greg Kim

Incoming tenure-track faculty:

  • Erin Ellison, Community Psychology
  • Melissa McTernan, Quantitative Psychology
  • Alexandra Morrison, Cognitive Psychology

Public Policy & Administration

  • We put on a major spring event in downtown Sacramento highlighting the PPA program and featuring one of our most prominent alumni, State Assembly Member Kevin McCarty. The event drew attendance from students, alumni, faculty, and influential people in the Sacramento area community.
  • We held a well attended thesis showcase in the State Capitol in the fall that featured recent alumni discussing their thesis projects and what they implied in such as areas as healthcare policy.


  • The Sociology department held a forum on immigration issues in April 11th of this year. The full-day event featured keynote speakers and representatives from various community-based organizations. Over five hundred students and faculty participated in this event.
  • Three first-year tenure-track faculty are having a successful year in teaching, scholarship activities, and services. All three are from diverse backgrounds and are providing important mentorship to undergraduate majors.
  • The graduate program has experienced a noticeable growth in applications. A group of 21 new graduate students are successfully completing their first-year in the graduate program and an expected 16 new students will join the department in the fall.

Women’s Studies

  • After serving for 21 years as Chair of the department, Dr. Rita Cameron Wedding decided to step down and handed over the responsibility of chairship to Dr. Sujatha Moni.
  • This year we hired a new faculty, Dr. Cara Jones who specializes in the areas of Health and Disability Studies.
  • Since the creation of the major in AY 2010-11, the department has seen rapid growth. In the first batch, we had 5 students graduate with a B.S. in Women’s Studies. This year there are 27 students graduating. This year also saw the highest number of majors adorning the Dean’s Honor List.


Archaeological Research Center

  • The Archaeological Research Center (ARC) has partnered with a number of new clients in service to the California community.  This includes work on flood control levees in West Sacramento, numerous water projects for disadvantaged communities in partnership with the Institute for Water, Energy, Sustainability, and Technology (iWEST), and state of emergency hazardous tree removal in the central Sierra Nevada.  Currently pending projects include work with the Office of Water Programs (OWP), California Department of Parks and Recreation, Humboldt County, and government sponsored installation of high-speed internet access to under-served Native American and rural communities in Shasta, Trinity, and Humboldt counties.
  • In addition to these projects have been renewed contractual commitments with the California National Guard, Caltrans, and Department of Water Resources.  In keeping with its broader teaching/research mission ARC has initiated expansion of its starch grain laboratory in support of student and faculty research, participated in the excavation of an important middle-to-late Holocene rock shelter in western Nevada, and sponsored two Department of Anthropology field classes.

Center for California Studies

  • Launched, in collaboration with EdInsights, the Education Policy Fellows Program, which is a professional development program to policy capacity in California’s education sector. The inaugural cohort contained 20 mid-career education professionals.
  • Launched the new graduate Certificate in Applied Policy and Government. This certificate is being conferred on all Capital Fellows who complete the program in good standing.
  • Sponsored the Envisioning California conference on the topic of Civic Engagement in California. Keynote speakers included the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Secretary of State, and the Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Civic Engagement. Over 200 people attended.
  • Completed a 600-page oral history on former State Senator Denise Ducheny, which has been deposited with the State Archives.
  • Launched, in collaboration with the Assembly Speaker’s Office, the Speaker’s Lecture Series, which brought the speaker to three California campuses (including Sacramento State) to engage in policy discussions with students, faculty, and staff.
  • Received a record number of entries (over 500) for our LegiSchool Project’s photo contest.

Center for Collaborative Policy

Conference Speaking Engagements - Dave Ceppos, CCP’s Business Development Director, has recently been a featured speaker at several statewide Ground Water Management Conferences throughout California.

Campus Community Engagement Task Force - Adam Sutkus, Interim Executive Director, is assisting Pia Wong and representatives from throughout the University on the Community Engagement Task Force effort.

Publications - Dr. Marci DuPraw, Director of Practitioner Development, published three professional articles and co-authored one with Dave Ceppos over the last six months. Article topics included Forest Resource Management Mediation; Formation of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies in California; Stakeholder Engagement Approaches in Water Policy; and Collaborative Governance in Natural Resource Management.

In addition to CCP’s 33 active projects practitioners work on, CCP is in the process to plan and launch several more projects, two of which are:

  • · Sonoma Developmental Center Conceptual Master Planning and Reuse Alternatives - The project will begin in May 2017 for the California Department of General Services.
  • · Census 2020 - CCP is working with the California Census 2020 Coordinator to develop a scope of work for the upcoming Census 2020 effort.


  • They now officially have a “capacity building” strand of work in addition to our applied research and evaluation strands. This is critically important because it allows them to work on policy development through applied research, implementation through capacity building, and understanding efficacy through the evaluation work. They also have projects/evaluations within K-12, the community colleges, and the CSUs, which is fulfilling our mission to work within and across public education systems.
  • Through the capacity building strand, they launched the California Education Policy Fellowship Program in partnership with the Center for California Studies – see:, and have an incredible inaugural cohort – see: They had over 70 applicants for 20 spots.
  • They also launched the CSU Student Success Network -- The Network held its first convening at SF State on college readiness and the second convening on data use at Fresno State. It created a plan to launch Student Success Labs in 2017-18. And it launched two research projects – one on student experiences in the CSU and one on mapping student success initiatives within the system. EdInsights is running and staffing both projects.
  • We also published a report on transfer in California that received media and legislative attention – see one article here:
  • Director Andrea Venezia worked with media outlets on other stories about public education in California, and EdInsights works closely with foundations interested in investing in California (such as Irvine, Hewlett, Gates, College Futures, and Kresge – all of which support EdInsights’ work).