Welcome to Pi Gamma Mu's 2017 Triennial Convention. Our theme is "Leadership, Scholarship, and Service." These three are the pillars of our mission. Founded in 1924, we celebrate ninety-three years as the honor society that recognizes excellence in students of the Social Sciences. I am honored to convene the 2017 Convention.
As a sociologist I have been drawn to the remarkable social change observed and experienced during my career. I have seen changes in my own life, in my work, and in the society around me. I remember the first time I read about Daniel Bell's three eras--preindustrial, industrial, and postindustrial. I understood the preindustrial and the industrial, but I didn't quite understand the postindustrial era. Bell focuses on information processing in the postindustrial era. At first I didn't get it--information processing. But I have to say I'm getting it now! My guess is that we are all getting it--from the phone calls that give you automated responses to the automated teller that provides cash from a machine. But, then, who even needs the cash--you can get everything you want and need with a little plastic card. With the plastic card, I can buy what I need and want, without going to a store and without face-to-face interaction. Can you imagine what that means for a sociologist? Even the driver, who delivers my purchases and rings the doorbell, hurries back to the big brown truck without exchanging a word. Soon, I understand, the driver and the big brown truck will give way to a drone that will drop off purchases on my porch.
At a slightly more macro level my work experiences have changed. Now that we all have computers at our desks, we send an email to a colleague down the hall. And, students would rather text me than talk on the phone. In class, students who used to engage in conversation before class are all sitting with cell phones in hand in their own information processing world. On the bright side--for me though--every once in a while, I observe one of my students break into a smile for a few seconds (do you know what I am talking about?), and I wonder what they have just read. Truly we are seeing great changes in our information processing postindustrial era, and all of this should provide new realms of study for social scientists; I conclude that we have plenty of research topics to keep us busy.
In the midst of all of this change, Pi Gamma Mu is changing also and adjusting to the change that surrounds us. I'd like to...