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Department of

Ethnic Studies

Michelle Madsen Camacho, PhD

Professor, Sociology

Michelle Madsen Camacho is Chair and Full Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of San Diego.  She formerly held two postdoctoral fellowships at the University of California, San Diego, at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies and in the Department of Ethnic Studies. Fluent in both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, her research uses theories from interdisciplinary sources including cultural studies, critical race, gender and feminist theories. Central to her work are questions of culture, power and inequality. She is affiliated faculty with the Department of Ethnic Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Latin American Studies.


Michelle Madsen Camacho’s Ph.D. is from the University of California, Irvine, in the interdisciplinary fields of Sociology and Cultural Anthropology (Program in Social Relations). She conducted three years of fieldwork in Latin America, studied Quechua language and Andean area studies at Cornell University, and is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship.  Her B.A. is from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. 

Scholarly and Creative Work

Professor Camacho has published over 20 papers related to her research. In addition, her book, Borderlands of Education:  Latinas in Engineering, is coauthored with Dr. Susan Lord.  She is also a co-editor on a book (2012) titled, Mentoring Faculty of Color:  Essays on Professional Development and Advancement in Colleges and Universities (with Dwayne Mack and Elwood Watson).  Her most recent projects were funded by the National Science Foundation to examine inequities in higher education, focusing on the persistence of women and people of color in STEM education. Other research projects include: the paradox of “modernization” via state-led development projects in Oaxaca, Mexico; critical inquiry of material culture and symbolism as they relate to “official” and “popular” religion; and narratives of pedagogy and the application of community service learning. Her work has been published in Latino Studies, the Journal of Engineering Education, Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, Journal of Hispanics in Higher Education, Human Organization, Michigan Journal for Community Service Learning, Sociology of Religion, Catholic Historical Review, and the proceedings for the American Society of Engineering Education and Frontiers in Education.


Teaching Interests

The recipient of the “2011 Innovation in Experiential Education Award,” Professor Camacho uses active-learning teaching techniques to encourage students to generate, analyze and critique data. In her classes, students unearth their assumptions about the social construction of knowledge and learn the importance of composing critical questions. Courses she teaches include: Contemporary Social Issues, Quantitative Methods, Qualitative Methods, and several upper-division electives in Sociology that cross-list with Women’s and Gender Studies, and Ethnic Studies.  She has been teaching at the university level since 1993.