Sociology welcomes Baker

MINOT, N.D. – Erin Baker, Minot State’s new assistant professor of sociology, has been on campus for less than two months but already feels like part of the family.

Baker moved to Minot after earning her bachelor’s, her master’s, and her doctorate degree all from her home state of Michigan. When she met with Minot State’s sociology faculty during her interview process, she had an inkling she would fit in.

“I loved how everyone talked about the family atmosphere. That’s super important to me,” she said. “If I'm going to work somewhere and be there for years and years, I want to make sure that I'm going to feel supported and that there's a family feeling there, people care about you.

“I love that we have a social science division here because the social sciences are interconnected. All of these disciplines here are interconnected, and I like being close to people who I can send students to if I need to or people who I can collaborate with and ask questions who might not be in my field.”

Teaching at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, Baker became used to working with a hundred students in a classroom at a time, but making the adjustment to the small class sizes at MSU was no problem.

“It’s really nice to have 14 students in a classroom. I think 35 students is the highest I have this semester, which is still more intimate to me than 100, a huge lecture hall,” she said. “I’m definitely looking forward to having some discussions with those students together and having more of a cooperative learning experience, being able to spend so much time teaching students, and getting them excited about sociology.”

Her research, too, focuses on family, specifically the effects homeschooling has on mothers’ mental health, to which Baker holds a special connection.

“I'm a mother. I have a 12-year-old son, and we started homeschooling him five years ago,” she said. “He was struggling in school and starting to have anxiety around going, and I didn’t want that. He loved learning.

“I was a working mom, and I was going to grad school. I was a single mom for the first year of it, so it was very, very hard to homeschool him at that time. I thought it would be important to look at the mental health of homeschooling mothers and how things like gender, class, and race impact their experience with mental health while they're homeschooling.”

On top of collaborating with the other social science faculty, Baker hopes she can collaborate with students during her research.

“I love research, but I really, really love teaching,” she said. “I want students to come to my office and talk to me. Maybe when I get back to my research after I'm settled in, I can invite them to work with me on some of my research projects.”

Overall, Baker looks forward to getting to know Minot State.

“I'm just excited to be here,” she said. “I think it's going to be a great experience. The city has been great for my family.”

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 09/17/21   

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