Dr. Beth Davison has been a member of Appalachian State University’s faculty since 1997.
When she first came to Appalachian, Davison taught sociology classes related to criminology. She has since transitioned to exclusively teach the sociology research methods class, which is required of all sociology majors.
In Davison’s class, students work with local non-profits, another passion of hers, by conducting program evaluations. The students help non-profits pinpoint where they are and perhaps are not meeting their goals.
“For me, I think research teaches very important skills to have just to be an informed citizen: how to find the information and interpret it for yourself and not rely on other people or the media to interpret it for you,” Davison said. “And, when you research you are contributing to the sociological knowledge.”
Davison said there is an appeal that comes from doing research – that others will learn from and talk about the information.
Acknowledging that academic research articles are read mostly by academics, Davison has become passionate for an outlet that reaches a more general audience, and in more accessible language: documentaries.
In the past 10 years, Davison has built on her love of watching documentaries by learning how to make them. She has taken continuing education classes at the Duke Center for Documentary Studies and brought her skills back to Appalachian.
In 2008 Davison proposed the creation of University Documentary Film Services, where students and faculty can check out video equipment and learn how to use it for a project. She is co-director.
Davison said her growing passion for documentaries ties back to her interest in research methods. As communication becomes increasingly important in a multimedia world, documentaries are an effective way to present numbers and data for the general public to understand, she said.
Her latest documentary, a 50-minute film on North Carolina’s influential Cone family titled “Denim Dynasty,” was screened in September 2015.
In 2015 Davison became the director of the Interdisciplinary Studies program and continues to teach sociology classes.