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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

New Faculty in Sociology:

Dr. Melanie S. Brasher has joined the department as an Assistant Professor of Sociology. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Duke University in 2013. Prior to coming to URI, Dr. Brasher was a visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at Dickinson College. Her appointment is a joint appointment in Sociology and in Human Development and Family Studies where she will participate in the Gerontology program. For more info click here.

Dr. Hilda Lloreans has joined the department as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Connecticut in 2005. Prior to coming to URI, she was a visiting Assistant Professor at Brown University and a Lecturer at Middlebury College. She has also held positions as a Research Associate at the University of Puerto Rico and at the Institute for Community Research in Hartford, Connecticut. For more info click here.

Early Career Faculty Research Award

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