Office: Pearsons Hall 219-A
Dr. Trish Morris was awarded her doctoral degree in sociology from Northeastern University in Boston in the spring of 2009 and joined the Drury faculty later that fall. As an alumnus of a small liberal arts college (Rhodes College in Memphis, TN), she is excited to be at Drury. For her, having the opportunity to engage with students in small classes is a tremendously rewarding aspect of the profession. Her areas of research and teaching experience include methodology and statistical analysis in combination with the study of gender, medical sociology, human-animal interactions, social psychology, work and professions, sociology of emotions, and the study of death and dying. At Drury, she teaches a variety of courses, including Introduction to Sociology, Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences (at the undergraduate and master's level), and Juvenile Delinquency. She is looking forward to the possibility of adding courses in medical sociology, work and occupations, death and dying or a class on animals and society to that list sometime in the future. Her approach to both teaching and research design emphasizes the complementary nature of quantitative and qualitative methodologies.
Dr. Morris has had a long-time interest in the study of medical professions, the interactions between people and non-human animals, death and dying, gender, and work-related stress. Combining all of these interests, her doctoral dissertation research detailed the work of veterinarians in the context of euthanasia situations. Few issues in veterinary medicine today seem to present more sources of ethical uncertainty or moral stress for novice veterinarians than the practice of euthanasia, yet little scholarly research has sought to explore end of life decision-making among veterinarians. Like other sociological studies of medical ethics, her research is interested in the ways in which young professionals define, approach, and eventually resolve ethical questions in their work. For this research, she was a recipient of a Charlotte Newcombe Fellowship by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. During her graduate studies she has delivered papers at regional and national meetings, including twice at the American Sociological Association, related to her research.
Currently she is revising this dissertation research into a manuscript for publication entitled, Blue Juice: Tales of Compassionate Killing in Veterinary Medicine. In addition to a discussion on ethical decision making among veterinarians, another goal of the book will be to take the reader up close and personal into the very private moments that unfold between human clients, their animals, and veterinarians. In researching for her dissertation Dr. Morris became captivated by euthanasia encounters that resemble human funerals in which veterinarians discuss the pros and cons with pet owners of burial versus cremation, even helping a client choose an urn or casket for their animal's remains. Scholars interested in the role of the pet in the modern American family report that many people today view animals as unique, emotional, reciprocating, and thoughtful "friends" or even family members. Thus, today's companion animal veterinarians must not only deal with the death of their patients, but also emotionally distraught owners who desire to be involved in the death process. These settings, she discovered, provide a rich context for an examination of how emotionality is dealt with in professional-client interactions, as well as ways in which veterinarians work to stage and ritualize the death of animals for the benefit of their human clients.
On a personal note, Dr. Morris enjoys skiing and hiking. During her high school years in Memphis, TN, she spent years giving tours of Elvis Presley's home, Graceland. If we get any snow this winter, look for her attempting to ski the largest hill she can find in Springfield.
B.A., Rhodes College, 1998
M.A., Northeastern University, 2003
Ph.D., Northeastern University, 2009
Drury University faculty member since 2009
Assistant Professor since 2009