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Michael Jessup

Department Chair and Professor of Sociology

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christian community development individualism and its role in american culture racial reconciliation rwanda and the rwandan genocide social justice social movements


  • PhD, Sociology, Southern Illinois University
  • MS, Sociology, Iowa State University
  • BA, American Studies, Idaho State University
  • BA, Sociology, Idaho State University

Career Highlights

Some of my major career accomplishment can be found in subtly. I am happy that I am finding new ways to connect with students in a broader educational culture that encourages students to disengage from the scholarly life of the mind. I am happy that I was part of a program that dramatically expanded the path for Korean students to attend Taylor. I am happy that I was an integral part of the formation of Social Justice Week at Taylor. Students need to feel, think, and act more systematically about the biblical call for justice. I am happy that I have been able to work with Rwandan pastors deal with the horrors of a genocide that happened in their churches. I am happy that I have been able to help students connect with organizations that seek to empower the homeless, powerless, marginalized, and disenfranchised. I am happy that I have been able to share with students the power of culture, and the benefits of a global perspective. I am happy about my contributions to the understanding of the “McDonaldization of Society,” racial reconciliation, and the Christian family. Finally, I am happy about ongoing research projects that tell the story of refugees from South Sudan.

Jessup has led multiple trips to Rwanda and Uganda to explore themes of forgiveness and reconciliation. Read about the first combination sociology and documentary filmmaking trip.


Advice to Incoming Freshmen

You may be wrong! Sometimes the world really is not the way you see it!

Get ready for intense shades of gray. It would be wonderful if all social life fit neatly into little boxes, and all issues were clearly defined in black and white or red and blue. Fortunately, the social world is more complex, nuanced, and messy than most Christians would like to think.

God is too big to be understood by one culture.

Follow the 5 “E”s: Embrace, Engage, Enquire, Enjoy, Experience. Follow these 5 “E”s for a truly transformative education.

Why I Enjoy Teaching at Taylor

Bottom line–I enjoy teaching. I like all of the “work” that goes into class preparation; I enjoy reading contemporary research, and wrestling with new and challenging ideas. I also enjoy trying to find new and innovative ways to communicate these ideas to students. I want students to be as excited about concepts, theories, and ideas as I am! One of the benefits of Taylor is the small class size–allowing me integrate experiential components into the classroom. For students, this might mean the opportunities of talking to offenders in a prison, hanging out with a homeless person, listening to a refugee from South Sudan share his or her story, or praying with a Rwandan pastor who lost forty members of his congregation. I also enjoy Taylor because I have the freedom to integrate my Christian faith–the freedom to ask the tough questions.


News junkie–always reading about current events and auto news!

Movies–yes, I like them! I watch all kinds of movies (except horror!). Movies are filled with sociology and sociological insights. Yes, I am a weeper.

I thoroughly enjoy hanging out with my family, probably talking about the news and movies! We also have fun together. For example, last Christmas, we went on an 70 mile snowmobile trek through Yellowstone. Just celebrated 31 years of marriage!

Addicted to culture–like reading, talking, thinking, and most exploring other cultures. (I think I am a closet anthropologist.)

I like writing, reading, and watching comedy and comedies. In fact, have written dozens, and been in dozens, of dramas at church.