A Virginia Tech sociology professor has received a prestigious honor for devoting his career to issues of race and ethnicity.

The American Sociological Association’s Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities awarded David Brunsma with the Founder’s Award for Scholarship and Service. Brunsma is only the 10th recipient in the history of the award, which recognizes career excellence in substantive academic scholarship and professional and/or community service. 

Brunsma said he’s honored to join the ranks of some of the top scholars in the sociology of race and ethnicity field.

“This award is given to folks who are significant mentors of junior colleagues and graduate students, particularly those of color, and who have tirelessly created those mentoring relationships and opportunities for those who are often not mentored,” said Brunsma. “This is something I have always placed front and center in my career.”

Brunsma has mentored hundreds of graduate students and junior faculty members.

Of all his accomplishments, Brunsma said he’s proudest of co-founding Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, the flagship journal of the American Sociological Association’s Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities. Along with colleague David Embrick, Brunsma established the journal as a premier platform for publishing sociological scholarship on race and racism.

“We wanted to create a home for critical and impactful scholarship on race, racism, and ethnicity,” said Brunsma. “Up until this point, this work was often marginalized and invalidated. We have helped alter that reality for many across the country and globe.”

Both scholars have presented a workshop and mentorship series to more than 30 graduate departments of sociology as a means of demystifying the publication process.

“We meet one-to-one or with groups of race scholars to provide advice and connections and talk through their many experiences and challenges,” said Brunsma. “We pull the curtain and lay it all out in clear language for junior colleagues and graduate students. The impact and legacy are significant, and I am deeply proud of the series.”

Brunsma has been involved with the American Sociological Association for more than 20 years. He has served as chair and council member for the Section of Racial and Ethnic Minorities. He was also instrumental in creating the organization’s Section on Human Rights.

He has also been a member of the Association of Humanist Sociologists, Sociologists Without Borders, and the Society for the Scientific Study of Social Problems. He currently serves as the executive officer of the Southern Sociological Society.

Brunsma joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 2011. His research has ranged across the study of multiraciality, human rights, and institutionalized racism. He is currently collaborating on several projects investigating whiteness and the (re)production of white spaces. His latest book — Beer and Racism: How Beer Became White, Why It Matters, and the Movements to Change It, with coauthor Nathaniel Chapman, who earned his doctorate in sociology from Virginia Tech — will be coming out this fall.

Brunsma earned his master’s degree and doctorate in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, and he received his bachelor’s degree from Goshen College.

Written by Andrew Adkins