By Meredith Bumgarner, Social Media Specialist
Sonia Kapur joins UNC Asheville for her second year as an Assistant Professor in International Studies. Professor Kapur offers the International Studies program and students a unique learning experience due to her diverse background.
“I joined UNCA in the fall of 2014. When I first read the job description, it almost felt like it was written for me,” Kapur said. “It fit in so well with my academic training and experiences. A factor that attracted me to join UNCA was its liberal arts focus that goes well with my degrees in sociology and public policy.”
Kapur completed her first doctorate degree in sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University in India. She went on to complete her second doctorate in public policy from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in July 2014 before moving to Asheville and joining UNCA.
“Before moving to UNCA I had taught specific disciplines. Here I have been fortunate to teach the same subject matter but from a cross-disciplinary lens,” Kapur said. “The responsibility of teaching courses in liberal arts core curriculum has given me an opportunity to learn and feel challenged.”
Agya Boakye-Boaten, director of international, interdisciplinary and Africana studies, said he finds Professor Kapur to be highly productive and notes that she makes herself very available to students.
“She is extremely hard-working. She’s always on top of her business and she’s just been a wonderful colleague to work with,” Boakye-Boeten said.
Boakye-Boaten said Kapur’s background brings a lot of intellectual variety to UNCA. The campus can’t have enough faculty members similar to Kapur as she displays a strong passion for education and challenges her students.
“UNCA is extremely happy to have her because she introduces an extremely important element of study,” Boakye-Boaten said. “She has two Ph.D.s, one with a special focus in public policy. She covers the Indian subcontinent pretty much where you don’t have much expertise.”
Often, first year faculty members struggle to become plugged in and have a hard time finding good ways to do service to the university, all while working to establish solid working foundations with colleagues. Professor Kapur did not face this dilemma during her first year, according to Brian Hook, UNCA humanities director.
“I think Sonia has really been a model,” Hook said. “Over the first two to three years, we learn more and more. In my experience she’s been good, a quick study.”
Those thinking about taking a course with her may find upon meeting her that initially she may be reserved but also incredibly kind, according to Hook.
“She’s brilliant. Great listener. I noticed that immediately. She asks great questions. Great colleague,” Hook said. “I haven’t seen her in the classroom but I know from her students that they find those qualities to be true as well.”
Kapur enjoys challenging her students and making their learning experience the most that it can be. She said she also enjoys finding herself challenged by her students from time to time.
“Some of the best surprises have been the engagement of the students in the classroom. They have many times surprised and challenged me with their keenness to learn and creativity in applying their classroom learnings to situations of the world around them,” Kapur said.
The research she conducts and her experience in the nonprofit sector add to the service components and fit in well with the values and mission of UNCA, according to Kapur.
“I have been working on intersectional research related to individual, organizational and policy aspects of domestic violence among the Asian Indian community in the US,” Kapur said. “Additionally, I have also been fortunate to work on other areas of my interest such as religious nationalism and gender issues, refugee studies and stratification.”
When Kapur isn’t teaching or conducting research, she said she spends her free time enjoying her hobbies.
“I try to spend some of my free time keeping myself fit, so I make sure I am regular with my exercise,” Kapur said. “I also love watching Bollywood movies, and of course I never like to miss the opportunity to travel and spend time with family and friends.”