Benjamin Kaplow ’18 didn’t always know he wanted to pursue a major in sociology, but walking into Professor Mark Gould’s “Foundations in Social Theory” in the fall of Kaplow’s sophomore year opened his eyes to the discipline and its possibilities.
“The course forced me radically adjust the way I view the world, and challenged me to reconstruct my views and academic positions in an analytically rigorous way.” he said. “I was struck by how Mark respected me, challenged me, and did not allow me to be complacent. I was given all the support I needed, but no room not to give my best.”
Kaplow, who minored in philosophy at Bryn Mawr College, is headed to Yale University as one six students in this year’s cohort of its prestigious graduate program in sociology. He plans to continue the work in comparative-historical sociology he began at Haverford, which he describes as “developing causal models for processes of historical transformation and change,” alongside his further study of the sociology of religion.
As for Kaplow’s relationship with Gould? The two have continued collaborating since those early days in “Foundations in Social Theory.” In the summer of 2016, Kaplow received a grant from the John B. Hurford Center for Arts and Humanities to study Sri Lankan Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalism under Gould, who later served as his thesis advisor.
“My senior thesis was an examination of Americanized Buddhism and and an attempt to explain the genesis of its particular form of religiosity as part of a larger transformation in American society,” said Kaplow, who conducted ethnographic work in Buddhist and meditation centers around Philadelphia for his research.
At Yale, Kaplow looks forward to applying the skills he learned at Haverford and continuing his undergraduate thesis work in pursuit of his doctorate.
“My work in the Sociology Department has taught me to make precise, clear, and analytically cogent arguments, and given me a lens through which to examine the world through a self-critical lens,” he said. “Due to the education I was given in the department, I feel well prepared to pursue a career in sociology.”
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.
Photo by Alexandra Iglesia ’21