Faculty and Staff

Jacob L Felson

Professor • Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice

I have been chair of the Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice since 2015. In that time, I've played a central role in all of the administrative aspects of the department, most notably with respect to faculty hiring and student advisement. In all my department activities, I have sought to make the department a stimulating intellectual environment conducive to high quality teaching, research and service.

My career in social science spans over two decades. In that time, my research interests have varied considerably. My BA thesis considered the factors underlying headquarter location choices of major companies. My MA thesis was about the relationship between religious identity and attitudes about economic distribution. And my PhD dissertation was about the nature versus nurture question, specifically an analysis of assumptions underlying twin studies. Most recently, I first-authored papers on changes in attitudes about marijuana and university administrative decisions about reopening after COVID and wrote a report for The Nature Conservancy of New Jersey that gathered data to identify key factors associated with park visitation.

As disparate as my research has been, all of it has involved quantitative data analysis, a subject I also teach every semester.

Professional Interests

Data science, applied statistics


PhD Sociology, The Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA


Research methods, data analysis, attitude change

Representative Publications

How and why have attitudes about cannabis legalization changed so much?; Social Science Research; Volume 78, 2018

Notable Courses Taught

Data Analysis, Research Methods, Senior Seminar, Social Stratification

463 Raubinger Hall

Spring 2020 - all online for now