About the professor
Sociology Central schedule
Was born November 1967 in East Lansing, Michigan. My first home was East Wilson Hall on the Michigan State campus. My dad was the residence hall director.
Is pronounced Schwine-groo-ber. My funny last name means something like "pig-digger" and may mean that my distant ancestors from Switzerland raised pigs or lived in the vicinity of wild boars.
Grew up in Bluffton, Ohio. We moved there when my dad was hired as the dean of students at Bluffton College, a job he still holds. My mom also works at the college as the director of the Institute for Learning in Retirement.
Graduated from Bluffton High School, where I was a hurdler on the track team and president of the Latin Club. During high school I worked as a local sports reporter at The Bluffton News.
Attended Bluffton College, a Christian college affiliated with the Mennonite Church. One notable difference between BC and Iowa State: professors at Bluffton leave the room during a test because the campus is governed by an honor code.
Worked four nights a week throughout college as a sports reporter at The (Findlay, Ohio) Courier.
Graduated in 1990 with majors in sociology and history. Other notable people who attended Bluffton College include Phyllis Diller, Hugh Downs and a member of the boy band 98 Degrees. (But none of them graduated.)
Covered the education beat at The Lima (Ohio) News as my first job after college.
Started graduate school in 1991 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My research projects in graduate school included an ethnography of a homeless shelter and an on-going study of demonstrations in Washington, D.C.
Taught Introduction to Social Psychology and led Introduction to Sociology discussion groups during graduate school. My first experience teaching a mass class was during a Sociology 100 guest lecture.
Married Nancy Berns in May 1995. She is a sociology professor at Drake University.
Has a daughter, Lydia Grace Berns-Schweingruber, who was born in March 2002. She likes to go to the library with her dad to get books about pigs.
Wrote a dissertation on a door-to-door sales company and graduated in May 1999 with a Ph.D. in sociology.
Began teaching Introduction to Sociology at Iowa State in Fall 1999. In addition to Sociology 134, I regularly teach Contemporary Sociological Theory (Soc 401) and Sex and Gender in Society (Soc 327).
Is researching a number of topics, including how people get engaged and plan their weddings, demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and introduction to sociology textbooks.
Is a member of Trinity Christian Reformed Church in Ames and is active in Areopagus, a campus ministry that promotes the relevance of the gospel for the context of higher education.
Enjoys reading novels. Some of my favorite contemporary authors include Ha Jin, Jonathan Lethem, Stephen Millhouser, Richard Russo, Jane Smiley, and Scott Turrow.
Has been watching The Simpsons every week since it premiered. Other current television shows I enjoy include The Sopranos, King of the Hill, Law & Order, David Letterman, and Conan O'Brien.
Also likes movies. Some of my favorite film makers are Joel and Ethan Coen (Barton Fink; O Brother, Where Art Thou?), Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas, Gangs of New York), Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, Last Days of Disco), Alexander Payne (Election), and fellow Illionois alumnus Ang Lee (The Ice Storm; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).
Listens to the music of singer/songwriter Steve Earle. If you are also a Steve Earle fan, be sure to come up front and say hello. We need to stick together.
Is a life-long fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburth Pirates. I grew up in Big Ten country and became an Illini fan during my eight years at Illinois. I root for Iowa State teams but find the games most interesting when some of my students are involved.
How to contact the me
Office: 404 East Hall
WF 2:10-3 p.m.
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