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The ever-curious Theo Greene

February 11, 2022

This piece represents the opinion of the author.
Juliana Vandermark

Known for his iconic takeover of the Bowdoin Class of 2025 Instagram page this past summer and for assigning readings on masturbation that were featured on students’ Snapchat stories on his first day at Bowdoin teaching “Sociology of Sexuality,” Assistant Professor of Sociology Theodore Greene has cemented his reputation as a unique professor on campus.

After beginning his academic career teaching at Northwestern University in 2014, Greene found his place as an assistant professor of sociology and faculty contributor of the urban studies minor here at Bowdoin the following year.

Greene was inspired to teach at Bowdoin through a friend he made shortly after his college years.

“One of my best friends at the time was a graduate from Bowdoin. I’d never heard of Bowdoin until I actually met him,” Greene said. “We had conversations about books and literature, and I really just loved the way he thought. He was such a smart, really engaging, brilliant person to get to know.”

In his years at the College, Greene has noticed many things about the Polar Bears. First and foremost, he admires how Bowdoin students treat their academic lives as a serious enterprise of intellectual curiosity, imagination and creativity. He has seen this academic perspective in the ways his students often read every word of the text he assigns, as well as coming to office hours or asking him to lunch to continue the in-class conversations.

Greene has always enjoyed engaging his Bowdoin students, and he continues to do so beyond the classroom, even after they graduate. In fact, he still receives emails from alumni in all different fields asking for book recommendations. He also points out that he has yet to meet another professor outside of Bowdoin who has had an experience like his with their own students.

Greene helped establish the Urban Studies minor here at Bowdoin, which has three courses running this semester.

“It’s a really exciting time for us to start this because the questions of what the city is and what makes the city are just changing so rapidly, especially in the wake of the pandemic,” Greene explained. “We’re seeing so many different dynamics taking place.”

In his own research, Greene focuses on studying gay neighborhoods and queer placemaking in cities.

“It’s funny telling people I get paid going to pride parades and going to nightclubs and bars and things like that, but that’s what happens,” he said. “What really excites me about my research is this opportunity to explore how people find ways of appropriating space and creating meanings that help build community, that helps sustain communities over time, even if it’s quick, even if it’s ephemeral.”

Greene’s research will be featured in his upcoming book, “Not in MY Gayborhood! Gay Neighborhoods and the Rise of the Vicarious Citizen,” which is set to be published through the Columbia University Press.

For students navigating Bowdoin now, Greene offers some advice.

“Especially in the last year, I’ve seen Bowdoin students rally and show resilience and flexibility in ways that I’ve been not just impressed by, but in awe of, with all the things that have been going on,” Greene said. “I think sometimes you all try so hard to be great students that you don’t have the opportunities to let go and let loose, but don’t be afraid to have a little fun.”

To students planning on graduating soon and entering the next stage of their lives, Greene also has words of wisdom to share.

“Don’t lose that sense of intellectual curiosity. [The Bowdoin education] is going to help you be thinkers and people of the world. Don’t lose that creativity, don’t lose that sense of intellectual curiosity that brought you here once you go out into the world because that’s where innovation happens,” Greene said. “That’s where great things happen. That’s when you can change the world.”

As a professor with a great sense of humor, Greene also emphasized the importance of being able to have fun in the classroom. He knows that personally engaging with discussions on topics that are not normally talked about can help create an unforgettable experience that solidifies connections between students and their professors.

With his unrelenting intellectual pursuit of pushing the boundaries, Greene stands out as a professor who is not afraid to redefine what it means to impart a Bowdoin education. Thanks for all you do, Professor!

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