Dr. Debra Peterson

Photo of Dr. Debra Peterson


Office/Department: Sociology and Communication Studies, Department of

Location: Sattgast Hall 215

Phone: (218) 755-2900

Box #: C

Email: debra.peterson@bemidjistate.edu


My bio reads like many of my students! I started my college life thinking I wanted to be a forester but ended up with a degree in Sociology—but only after taking many courses in Geography, Environmental Studies and Economics. With my undergraduate degree in hand, I did some additional searching—trying Law and finally getting my Masters in Public Administration. After a few years doing consulting work, I went back to school to get a doctorate in Sociology. With my background, I am able to empathize with students who are struggling to figure out their major and their career future. While I can’t make choices for them, I can help them make good decisions about their major and their career futures.

This is my 21st year of university teaching. . My path toward this specific career began with my degree work at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where I completed my Ph.D. While I am intrigued by many areas of my discipline, I do research primarily in the areas of work and family. A colleague and I just published an article on interpretations of work-family balance as depicted in newspapers. Last year I completed a several year study on campus climate for faculty in the seven MnSCU universities. In addition to continuing my research in this area, I continue to be interested in how individuals sacrifice for one another in relationships and the consequences for them for doing so.


Ph.D., 1996, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Sociology; areas of specialization: Family and Theory
Dissertation: “The Effect of Race on Kinship Support: A Meta- Analysis”

M.P.A., 1988, University of North Dakota

B.A., 1983, Bemidji State University
Sociology with minors in Environmental Studies and Economics


  • Seminar in Sociology
  • Social Statistics (Undergraduate & Graduate)
  • Social Research Practicum
  • Education and Careers S
  • ociety and Social Issues
  • Environmental Sociology S
  • ociology of Marriage and Family
  • Capstone in Sociology
  • Career Preparation
  • American Culture
  • Urban Sociology
  • Education and Careers
  • Research Methods
  • Family and Society
  • Sociology of Work and Organizations
  • Sociological Theory
  • Sociological Methods and Statistics
  • Sociology of Sport
  • Quantitative Research Methods (Undergraduate and Graduate)

Recent Work

  • Greer, Colleen and Debra Peterson. 2013. “Balancing Act? Cultural Representations of Work-family Balance in the News Media.” Sociological Spectrum: Mid-South Sociological Association. 33:2, 117-135.
  • Peterson, Debra and Colleen Greer. 2013. Campus Climate Report: Results from the Focus Groups Conducted March 2010-January 2011 and the Online Survey Conducted November 1-20, 2012. Presented to the Inter Faculty Organization Board of Directors September 2013.
  • Peterson, Debra and Colleen Greer. August 2013. “Campus Climate: Results from Faculty Focus Groups in a Midwestern State University System.” Presentation given at the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association, New York, NY.
  • Peterson, Debra and Colleen Greer. 2005, March-April. “The Effect of Living Apart from One’s Partner on Relationship Quality.” Paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the Midwest sociological Society, Minneapolis, MN.
  • Peterson, D. (2005). [Review of the book Heads Above Water: Gender, Class, and Family in the Grand Forks Flood].Teaching Sociology 33, 342.
  • Peterson, D. F. (2001). [Review of the book Families Across Time: A Life Course Perspective]. Teaching Sociology, 29, 256-257.
  • Peterson, D. F. and O’Connor, C. K. (1997). [Review of the book Marriages and Families in a Diverse Society]. Teaching Sociology, 25, 95-96.
  • Peterson, D. F. and C. K. O’Connor. (1997). Study Guide for Marriages and Families: Reflections of a Gendered Society. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
  • Peterson, D. (1996). “What is a family?” In G. Macheski, K. S. Lowney, and T. Meyers (Eds.), Teaching about Families: A Collection of Syllabi, Projects, and Class Materials. Washington, DC: American Sociological Association. pp. 216-217.
  • Peterson, D. F. (1996). The Effect of Race on Kinship Support: A Meta-analysis. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Sociology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE.
  • White, L. K. and Peterson, D. F. (1995). “The Retreat from Marriage and Intergenerational Exchange: Unmarried and Divorced Children’s Exchange with Parents.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 57, 428-434.


Other Information

Hobbies: Reading, Bicycling, Hiking, Beading