Catherine Harris

Professor Emerita

A.B. – Lenoir Rhyne College
M.A. – Duke University
Ph.D – University of Georgia

Telephone: (336) 758-5496
Office: 014 Kirby Hall


After receiving my Ph.D. at the University of Georgia I was a member of the Salem College faculty, where I became Chair of the Departments of Sociology and Economics.  I joined the Wake Forest faculty in 1980.  Since then I have held appointments at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine (associate in medical education) and at the Wake Forest School of Law (research associate).

My work in the beginning focused on two areas, gender roles and the sociology of music.  In the latter area my co-author, Clemens Sandresky, former Dean of the Salem College School of music, and I, focused on musical syntax as data.  In addition, I was and continue to be, involved in a study of medical students, especially looking at the impact of the medical school experience and environment on medical student attitudes.

Much of my work has been interdisciplinary and policy oriented.  Since 1995, I have worked with co-authors in the law schools at both Wake Forest and Duke.  Beginning with a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to support the study of the impact of mediation in medical malpractice cases.  So far, we have published eight articles in this area, systematically looking at the different dimensions of the litigation process, including the impact of the insurer’s evaluation of liability and the strategic advantages of both defendants and plaintiffs (e.g. attorney “track record” and witness potential of both defendants and plaintiffs).  We also looked at the perspectives of the physician/defendants, almost 2/3 of whom expressed a need for vindication.

Our previous findings suggest that death cases are different from those that are less severe.  I am currently working with Ralph Peeples, of the Wake Forest School of Law to analyze the data.  Our other on-going area of interest, in which we have published several articles, has to do with child custody case outcomes.  Ralph Peeples, Suzanne Reynolds and I are interested in discovering if the presence of guardians ad litem decreases domestic violence in child custody cases in which domestic violence has been present.



SOC 151: Principles of Sociology
SOC 270: Sociological Theory
SOC 272: Research Methods
SOC 305: Gender in Society
SOC 308: Sociology of Art
SOC 316: Conflict Management in Organizations
SOC 351: Management in Organizations

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