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Sarah Giroux

Sarah Giroux

Lecturer and Research Associate

266 Warren Hall

Research Focus

The bulk of my research interests lie in the intersection of demography and inequality in the modern world, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Working largely with existing secondary data, I’ve used a range of analytic approaches to understand these issues, including work at both the micro and macro levels, as well as taking descriptive, causal and accounting techniques. Increasingly, my work examines how formal demographic processes both shape, and are shaped by, broader socioeconomic inequalities. A large part of my efforts have focused on the inference problems associated in trying to understand the impact of fertility transitions on national level social and economic outcomes, and using decomposition methods to identify the drivers of large scale social change at the macro-level. In my work, I have sought to combine innovative methods with careful and rigorous analysis-- not for the sake of science alone, but to address “real world” questions.

Outreach and Extension Focus

My outreach focus is on capacity building and engaged research in francophone Africa. Examples include working with Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue, the Hewlett Foundation, and the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) to support capacity building in demographic research and policy analysis, to the PICHNET project partnership that explores the poverty-violence narrative with partners like the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Cameroon, and Vox Africa.

Teaching Focus

During my tenure at Cornell, I have taught a range of courses including DSOC 313: Research Methods; DSOC 3240 Environment & Society; IARD 2020: Introduction to International Agriculture & Rural Development; DSOC 2010: Population Dynamics; and DSOC 3700: Comparative Social Inequalities. While varied in breadth, they all broadly sought to facilitate my student’s cultivation of the analytic tools (theoretical, conceptual and methodological) needed to effectively produce and consume emergent social science research. My objective is to push students beyond simplistic understandings of social science processes to a place where they can read, question, critique, and contribute to pressing social debates. To achieve this end goal, my teaching is grounded in two pedagogical necessities: to develop enthusiastic and active learners. my courses are organized to move from simple concepts/theories, to analytical frameworks, and to applications and extensions. In all of my teaching, I try to foster experiential and interactive learning. While some classes are lecture format to ensure that students have firm understanding of key concepts, I strive to spend more of my class time on applications. This means grounding new concepts in students’ experience, fostering class discussions, and designing hands-on activities. Across all of my courses, I seek to generate enthusiasm by keeping the materials relevant – even when reading classic theories (i.e. Marx) or teaching seemingly “dry” methods (i.e. life table analysis). To this end, all of my courses integrate both academic and popular reading materials, and, when I lecture, I spend the bulk of my lecture time drawing upon current news items and stories and working with students to apply concepts to concrete cases. By keeping the material relevant and case based, I am able to spend more of the class time with students actively discussing and engaging in the concepts, theories, and methods that they have read about prior to class time. I also incorporate efforts to foster quantitative literacy into all of my undergraduate teaching.

Selected Publications

Journal Publications


  • Giroux, S., & Hirschl, N. (2016). Educational Inequality and Race: How Changes in America’s Demographics are Shaping Our Children’s Futures. Population Association of America Annual Meeting 2016.