JZ photoDr. Jennifer L. Zoltanski,

Department Chair, Associate Professor of Sociology

Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work


About Me

I grew up in Denver, Colorado and attended the University of Denver. A French major, I also studied at the University of Aix-Marseilles in southern France. Upon graduation I traveled to Madrid, Spain, then returned to the United States where I taught English as a Second Language (ESL) to immigrant groups in California, Ohio and Oregon. My work in ESL opened my eyes to structured inequality and the varied forms it took for my students, including labor exploitation, job and housing discrimination, food insecurity, poverty, limited health care, and sometimes physical violence. This is how I developed my interests in sociology and social inequality.

JZ hiking

My Ph.D. dissertation examined the historic international prosecution of gendered war crimes that took place following the Bosnian War. I have presented and published works on gendered war violence and other topics, including an MCLA Mind’s Eye essay on teaching the sociology of happiness.

Broadly speaking, my teaching and research interests focus on contemporary social problems and identifying the sources of power inequality that produce them. My courses are organized around critical thinking and social justice principles. War, genocide, crime, poverty, slavery, environmental devastation and many other social problems are not new to the 21st century. Yet understanding the sources of conflict may be more important today than ever before. We must chart paths toward building more harmonious societies before it is too late. With this in mind, many of my courses examine how ordinary people contribute to extraordinary social change.

A solid liberal arts education is important for individual growth and success in the 21st century. I believe it is also a critical component of a broader project in education for human/global survival. These are some of the ideals that I emphasize in my classes and hope to impart to students.


Special Interests

Humanitarian Law and Gendered War Crimes Prosecution

Genocide Prevention Studies

Art and Social Protest

Global Happiness Studies

Visual Sociology and The Graphic Novel/Narrative


Examples of Scholarly Activity

Teaching and Research Mentor. Kristen Hourigan Ph.D. Candidate SUNY Albany. “Victim Accounts of Forgiveness/Non-Forgiveness after Violent Victimization.” (2014-2015)

Documentary Studies Seminar Discussant. Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences. William College. (2013-2014)

“Undergraduate Happiness: Some Preliminary Field Notes from the Classroom.” The Mind’s Eye: A Liberal Arts Journal. (Fall 2013)

“Teaching Happiness: A Workshop.” Presider & Organizer. Eastern Sociological Society Conference. Boston, MA. (March 2013)

“Teaching and Researching Difficult Topics.” Roundtable Coordinator. Eastern Sociological Society Conference, NYC. (August 2012)

Manuscript Reviewer. 21st Century Social Problems Exploring Social Crisis through Media. Sage Publications (2011).

Manuscript Reviewer. The Journal of Gender and Society. (2011)

“Surveying Laws and Provisions against Rape.” Pacific Sociological Association Conference, Special Session on Genocide. Portland, OR. (2008).

“Understanding Rape in War.” Pacific Sociological Association Conference. Political Sociology Session. Portland, OR. (2008)

The Construction of Rape as Crime Against Humanity. Ph.D. Dissertation, Brandeis University. (2006)

“Consensus or Co-Optation? A Critical Analysis of Collaborative Planning in Civic Environmentalism.” Master of Arts Thesis, Brandeis University. (2001)

“Persistent or Departure: Understanding Student Experiences at the Master’s Level.” Master of Science Thesis, Portland State University. (1995)

Contact Information

Office: Murdock 325

Phone: 413.662.5183

Office Hours
Tuesday  and Thursday 3:45-4:15 PM
Wednesday 11:00-12:00 PM 
Wednesday 1:00-2:00 PM



Brandeis University, Ph.D.

Brandeis University, M.A.

Portland State University, M.S.    

University of Denver, B.A.


Professional Memberships and Associations

Eastern Sociological Society (ESS)

International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS)

Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP)

Sociologists Without Borders

Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS)


Courses Taught

SOCI 201 Social Problems

SOCI 351 Criminology

SOCI 355 Law and Society

SOCI 312 Sociological Theory

SOCI 441 Social Stratification

SOCI 402 Genocide

SOCI 395 War and Gender

SOCI 415 Sociology of Happiness

SOCI 403 Social Movements

SOCI 395 Pro-Seminar

SOCI 499 Teaching Assistant in Sociology

SOCI 500 Independent Study in Sociology

SOCI 501 Research Assistant in Sociology


Frequented Website

Human Rights Watch

Genocide Watch

International Criminal Court

Amnesty International

Imperial War Museum

Crimes of War