Faculty Profile: Sociology instructor studies effects of drinking and driving

Hailing from Clancy, Mont., Sara Rasch earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Montana in sociology with an emphasis on criminology. She taught at the University of Montana for a year before being contacted by Montana State University to teach. Rasch has been an instructor in the sociology department at MSU for the last year and a half.

Rasch’s interest in sociology stems from a place that she see the importance in understanding how the social world affects how people interact with one another. Rasch has a particular interest in applied sociology in which sociologists take existing knowledge and look at a phenomena and assess what they can do about it. “I really like that applied sense of using sociology to change policy, to implement programs, to explain problems within the criminal justice system,” Rasch said.

Rasch views sociology as a difficult discipline because it forces individuals to question everything they have ever thought along with their place in society. Rasch said, “We challenge what you thought you knew, we take it out of the individual predispositions or individuals acting and say, no as a society we are doing something wrong or as a society we are causing this to happen.” Sociology is an area of study that is either loved or hated by students, Rasch said, “It’s very interesting that some students just grab ahold of it and love it and then some are very resistant because it’s challenging.”

Rasch has done most of her sociology research on decreasing drinking and driving in Montana. Part of Rasch’s research method was interviewing DUI offenders and gaining firsthand understanding as to why they committed the crime. Research in the past always involved talking to legislators and the general public about what could be done to decrease drinking and driving. Rasch said, “The only people who could really tell us what could stop them from drinking and driving are the people who have done it before and are in the system.” During her research Rasch interviewed inmates of the Montana Prison System and the WATCH program.

When asked what she thought about Bozeman and MSU Rasch replied, “I love it here … I love the students here everybody is so motivated, it’s been a really positive experience.” Rasch enjoys the outdoor recreation that Bozeman offers. Rasch, her husband and two dogs enjoy hiking to Montana’s hidden lakes, kayaking, and snowboarding.

Sara’s favorite coffee shop to visit in Bozeman is the Daily Coffee Bar and her favorite place to eat is Starky’s and most of all, Chico Hot Springs. “You get to go and sit in the pool after dinner and they have a fabulous chef,” Rasch said.

When asked what her dream job is, Rasch replied, “this.” Rasch is a die hard Montanan that can’t imagine living somewhere else “I will fight tooth and nail to never leave Montana,” Rasch said. Rasch loves teaching and can not imagine herself doing anything else.