Teacher and students during sociology class

Susan Thomson Tripathy

Susan Thomson
Susan Thomson Tripathy, Ph.D. Lecturer and Director of BLA Program


Service Learning, Ethnographies

Research Interest

Educational Background

Ph.D., Anthropology, Harvard University
M.A., Anthropology, Harvard University
M.M., Clarinet, Cleveland Institute of Music
A.B., Music, Mount Holyoke College


Susan Thomson Tripathy’s research interests emphasize qualitative research methods, including ethnography, oral history interviews and participatory action research, all of which are also important parts of her teaching. To connect these research skills with real life community problems and concerns, she integrates service-learning opportunities into all of her courses. Projects completed by her students in collaboration with community partners include facilitating a storytelling booth for a Franco-American neighborhood festival; creating a museum exhibit featuring the oral histories of refugees from Burma, Bhutan, Congo and Iraq; arranging an exhibit of art created by homeless guests at a local drop-in center; and organizing workshops and college tours for disadvantaged high school youth as part of a local mentoring program.

Thomson Tripathy’s earlier doctoral research, funded by a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation grant, focused on ethnographic fieldwork in rural Bihar, India, analyzing the politics and artistic development of a local dance form. Before coming to UMass Lowell in 2011, she was the Director of Research at Germaine Lawrence, a residential treatment center for adolescent girls in Arlington, MA. She has also taught at Middlesex Community College, where she was an active participant and researcher in MCC’s extensive community service program. Currently, she is an affiliated scholar at Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center.

At UMass Lowell, Thomson Tripathy’s teaching has been recognized in 2013 and 2014 with awards in Applied and Experiential Learning. In addition to her work in the Sociology department, she is Director of the Bachelor of Liberal Arts (BLA) program.

  • Social Anthropology
  • Sociology of the Family
  • Sociology of Health and Healthcare
  • Community Service

Selected Publications

  • Thomson, Susan, David Hirshberg, Amy Corbett, Nicole Valila, and Deni Howley. 2011. “Residential Treatment for Sexually Exploited Adolescent Girls: Acknowledge, Commit, Transform (ACT).” Children and Youth Care Forum, 33:11, 2290-2296.

  • Thomson, Susan. 2007. “Along the Path to Nibbana: Civic Engagement, Community Partnerships and Lowell’s Southeast Asian Buddhist Temples.” Pp. 112-130 in Southeast Asian Refugees and Immigrants in the Mill City: Changing Families, Communities, Institutions – Thirty Years Afterward, edited by S. Cowan, J. Gerson and L. Pho. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.