David HowellI’m currently teaching a course in Social Problems. The class enables us to talk about the difference between culture and society, and from there how the individual is connected to larger societal norms, events, issues, etc. It’s a fascinating class, one that enables discussion on a range of topics: physical and mental health, the changing American family, sex and social norms, prejudice and discrimination, and so on.

On Monday night, I started class by asking for a response to the recent shooting in Orlando. I then shared a video with the class on “sociological imagination”; you can view it here. The idea driving the video is that we need to use our imagination to connect our sense of individual self to a larger social problem; in doing so, we better understand how we are connected to the problems that society faces. It’s critical to engage in this mental activity because, if we don’t, we are disconnected from the social problems we face. And that sense of disconnect disables us from acting accordingly.

How do we act in response to the mass shooting in Orlando? How do we understand our personal, individual connection to this social issue? Well, it begins with empathy. That’s what we’ll talk about when class meets on Wednesday.