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Get to Know the Faculty: Todd Fuist


Let’s meet Toddworth Fuist (more on that later): a sociologist, prototypical Cubs fan and a man who is very specific about his pet peeves.

Todd Fuist

Todd Nicholas Fuist

Place of birth:
Lombard, Ill., near Chicago.
Why did you choose A-State?
I was excited by the opportunity to work with some really interesting colleagues in the criminology, sociology and geography department. Additionally, I am able to teach some classes that I really enjoy teaching here at A-State, which is a big bonus.
Who was your favorite teacher (and why)?
I have had a lot of amazing teachers, but one person that always sticks out in my mind is Deena Weinstein, from my undergraduate alma mater DePaul University. Dr. Weinstein taught classes in the sociology of media and culture and blended high expectations with a thorough look at interesting subject matter. She also knows how to command the attention of a classroom. If you want to see her in action, look for her interviews in the documentary “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey.”
My pro sports team is...
The Cubs. Because I like sadness, apparently.
What makes for a good student?
The best students have three qualities: (1) they are genuinely interested and engaged in the class material. (2) They have a desire to improve their performance and learn something in the class, whether they are already an expert or just starting to learn about the topic. And (3) they bring a joy for learning with them into the classroom.
Your philosophy on education in seven words:
Mentor students through a transformational learning experience.
If you could teach another field, which one and why?
I would love to teach in either religious studies or media studies. Those fields are not too similar, but seeing as the sociology of religion and the sociology of media are both big areas for me, I have a foot in each camp already.
My hobby is...
I like gaming and music.
My passion is...
I think I’m supposed to say sociology, right? Let’s go with that.
What is the one thing you wish you could teach everyone about your field?
I have a few. (1) That saying something is “socially constructed” doesn’t mean it’s “made up.” (2) That social structure is an important concept for people to grasp. (3) That we are methodologically rigorous in a way that tends to surprise people who assume bigger gulfs that there actually are between the natural sciences and the social sciences.
What are you working on right now?
Currently I am working on some papers that emerge out of a study I did of activists who were opposing a coal export terminal being built near their town.
Before you retire I want to...
A dream project would be to write a book on early Christianity as a social movement. Obviously, I’m a lot of fun at parties.
In college, I was known for...
Very little. I was pretty antisocial back then.
What music is playing in your car?
Currently on rotation are “Time Stands Still” by Unleash the Archers, “Positive Songs for Negative People” by Frank Turner, “Quintessential Ephemera” by Rosetta, and “Burnt Offering” by the Budros Band.
What is your favorite podcast?
I have so many I wouldn’t even know where to begin. For more serious fare I like Slate’s Political Gabfest and Revolutions. For lighter stuff, I tend to enjoy podcasts about bad movies like The Flop House and How Did This Get Made?
My favorite motion picture is...
Probably Once Upon a Time in the West by Sergio Leone.
The television series I must TiVo...
As far as comedies go, I really like Bob’s Burgers and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. For dramas, I would say Orphan Black is a must watch.
The last book I read for fun was...
The last few have been The Passage by Justin Cronin, The Sister’s Brothers by Patrick deWitt, and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I’d recommend all of them.
My favorite trip was...
Actually, on our way out here we drove down from Washington state, where I had been living, along the Oregon coast and visited Portland, L.A., and the Grand Canyon, all of which was a ton of fun.
If I could travel anywhere it would be...
Perhaps Spain? I’ve always thought it looked pretty.
Four people I’d take to coffee at...
This one is hard. Let’s just do living people who aren’t academics, to narrow it down. How about George R.R. Martin, Aisha Tyler, Cameron Esposito, and Anthony Bourdain. That list would change tomorrow, but I thought about all those people in the last day or two.
The best advice I ever received was...
Take lots and lots of pictures of your kid. However many you think is enough, take a few more just in case.
Beach or mountains?
Mountains, hands down. I’ve never been a beach person.
Dinner or supper?
I’ve always said dinner.
What is the one thing I’ve learned I’d tell my college self...
Work harder now, so you get used to it. Life is way more challenging than you think it’s going to be, and you’re still in the comparatively easy part.
My pet peeve is...
You know when you’re driving and someone else does something dangerous or illegal while you’re driving totally normally, but then instead of apologizing or even just ignoring you, they yell at you or give you the finger even though they were the one being reckless? That. That’s my pet peeve. You don’t get to be in the wrong AND be a jerk. You can pick one or the other, not both.
My favorite meal is...
I really like Indian food but, as a Chicagoan, on my deathbed I’ll be asking for Chicago style hot dogs and deep dish pizza.
A perfect day is...
Some combination of (1) reading, (2) going on a walk out in nature somewhere, (3) board games, (4) hanging out with my family, and (5) a nice meal with good company.
What I like about Jonesboro is...
A number of things, chief among them that people are really friendly. There’s also some really nice parks and green space around.
Cats or dogs?
Cats. Hands down. I like dogs, but I’m definitely a cat person.
E-book or hardback?
I hate myself for it, but e-books. Especially now that I’ve moved across the country twice. My iPad is a lot lighter than 20 boxes of hardcover books.
I wish I could...
juggle. It’s always bugged me that I can’t.
Only my friends know I...
have convinced a number of people that “Todd” is short for “Toddworth.” It’s not. It’s not short for anything. It’s just a boring, four letter name.
My favorite saying is...
I’m not sure I have one, but Karl Marx’s last words were “Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough,” and that’s always struck me as pretty funny.