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Ethel Nicdao

Associate Professor and Department Chair of Sociology


Phone: 209.946.2931


WPC 208


PhD, University of New Mexico, 2006

MA, California State University, Hayward, 2001

BA, University of California, Davis, 1994

Curriculum Vitae 

Teaching Philosophy

My pedagogical approach is an evolving process. At the center of my teaching philosophy is advancing students' critical thinking, and their theoretical and analytical proficiencies to strengthen their understanding of sociological knowledge. In all my courses, I first introduce a key concept called the "sociological imagination". Coined by sociologist C. Wright Mills (1916-1962), the sociological imagination refers to the "quality of mind that provides an understanding of ourselves within the context of the larger society" (Mills, 1959). In other words, we apply our sociological imagination to examine and better understand the connections between our private problems and public issues. By encouraging students to exercise their sociological imagination, I challenge them to question prior assumptions, question myths and stereotypes, and challenge their beliefs and norms.

Another key element of my pedagogy is promoting undergraduate research. I aim to teach students to view social issues from a sociological perspective, emphasizing the need to think critically, and move beyond personal experiences by using empirical evidence to support their arguments. The goal is for them to investigate social problems within a larger social context, explore the ways in which social structures and social forces shape our social world, and examine societal trends and factors that contribute to social inequality.

To foster a sense of community in the classroom, I implement small group activities, peer-review sessions, healthy intellectual debates and discussions, and mini presentations. It is through these various activities that I, too, learn from my students, especially non-traditional students who bring their real world lived experiences into the classroom. Moreover, because I believe in the value of community-based, experiential learning, I often invite guest speakers from the community, schedule local field trips, and share my own community-based research work. 

Research Interests

Medical Sociology, Race & Ethnicity, Social Inequalities, Community-Based Participatory Research, Qualitative & Quantitative Research Methods.


SOCI 125 Sociology of Health & Illness
SOCI 171 Social Research Methods
SOCI 172 Social Inequality
SOCI 041 Social Problems
SOCI 051 Introduction to Sociology
SOCI 187 Fieldwork (experiential learning)
SOCI 081 Introduction to Social Services
SOCI 071 Foundations of Sociology
SOCI 197 Independent Undergraduate Research
PACS 001 Pacific Seminar, What is a Good Society?
PACS 002 Pacific Seminar, Community & Health