Skip to main content
Painting by Paul Gaugin

Donald Cunnigen

Donald Cunnigen



Ph.D., Harvard University

Race and Ethnic Relations, Social Inequality, Social Movements, Social History

Curriculum Vitae

Professor Donald Cunnigen is a specialist in race relations, social movements, and social inequality. His particular expertise is in the area of white southern liberalism and the American civil rights movement. As a cum laude graduate of Tougaloo College in Mississippi with a double major in sociology-anthropology and Afro-American Studies, he took a M.A. degree in sociology from the University of New Hampshire and an A.M. in sociology from Harvard University. His Ph.D. in Sociology was received from Harvard University.

He is a native southerner who has devoted his scholarly attention to the social changes that reshaped the region. His published articles about the original contributions of white southern liberals have focused on their role in the changing South as well as the significant role played by African-Americans. The intellectual accomplishments and critical aspects of Black sociologists have been the focus of a part of his research. With his colleague, Robert Washington of Bryn Mawr College, he edited a collection of essays on this important group of scholars. Similarly, he co-edited with Rutledge Dennis of George Mason Univeristy and Myrtle Glasco, retired Avery Institute and Museum director, a work on the political thought of the famous African-American leader, Booker T. Washington. Presently, he is working on a volume titled, "Race in the Age of Obama." In addition to race relations, social movements, and social inequality, he has conducted research and published in the area of sociology of education, especially examining the experiences of people of color in institutions of higher learning and the role played by scholars in African-American colleges.

In recognition of his scholarship, he was selected as co-editor of the Race and Ethnic Relations Series of the Emerald Publishing Group in England. He was awarded the Sociological Spectrum Award for Outstanding Article by the Mid-South Sociological Society. He received the Association of Black Sociologists' (ABS) A. Wade Smith Award for Teaching, Mentoring and Service. On campus, he was recognized by the Multicultural Center with the Faculty Diversity Award for Excellence in Leadership and Service for his founding of the Black Scholar Awards and Onyx Senior Honor Society chapter. He helped to reactivate the Golden Key International Honour Society chapter, which has received a Gold Standard rating from the organization based on its service and other activities. On a national level, his peers elected him to serve as President of ABS and President of the Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists.

News & Announcements


Donna Hughes, Carlson Professor of Gender and Women's Studies has accepted a joint appointment as Professor of Sociology. Professor Hughes is a leading international researcher on human trafficking. She has completed research on the trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation in the United States, Russia, Ukraine, and Korea and also does research and writing on women's rights.


Dr. Pravin Patkar, a Fulbright Scholar from India will be in residence in Sociology and Anthropology during the 2015-16 academic year. The founder of Prerana, a center for women and children in Kamathipura - the largest red-light district in the world -- he written extensively on the topic of human trafficking. He has worked with victims of bonded labor (modern-day slavery) and prostitution and sex trafficking, and is an advocate for laws and policy that protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable. Dr. Patkar will be doing research and co-teaching courses with Professor Donna Hughes.


Julie Keller Julie C. Keller has joined the department as an Assistant Professor of Sociology. She received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley. Before coming to URI, Professor Keller was a Visiting Assistant Professor and Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Oberlin College.


Rosaria Pisa has been appointed director of the Gender and Women's Studies program. Professor Pisa has conducted in-depth fieldwork in rural and urban Mexico since 1993. Her research has evolved from studying the impact of the privatization of communal land on community life to her current focus on the gender dynamics of local and organic farming.


URI Anthropology & History student, Morgan Breene, earns prestigious international award to continue her studies of underwater archaeological sites. For full article click here



For the second year in a row, an anthropologist has been awarded the University’s Early Career Research Award.

Associate Professor Holly Dunsworth received the 2014 award for her research comparing energy use in apes and other mammals with particular reference to how the energetics and metabolic parameters of pregnancy, fetal growth, infant growth, and lactation and how those determine the timing of birth in humans and other mammals. Kudos to Holly!!!

Department contacts

Department Chair
Leo Carroll,

Justice, Law & Society Minor Coordinator
Professor Leo Carroll,

Administrative Assistant
Theresa Nobile,