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Linda Semu

As a Comparative International Sociologist, my research, publication and teaching focuses on the intersection of gender; international development; social change; health; race; immigration; family; youth, orphans and vulnerable children. I teach: Introduction to Sociology; Love and Marriage: A Cross-Cultural Perspective; Global Social Change; Food, Culture and Society; Urban Sociology; Urban and Community Studies Colloquium. I also coordinate two inter-disciplinary minors: Africana Studies and, Urban and Community Studies. I have directed several independent student research projects, some of which have been presented at national and international forums.

My recent publications (2018) include a chapter on “Perilous Outcomes: The intersection of culture, maternal health and HIV/AIDS on Malawian women in the face of an international development consensus” in the book on Public Health, Disease and Development in Africa; and “The Sociology of Kinship and Family” in the book on Core Concepts in Sociology. I have also published in journals such as Progress in Development Studies, Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Oxford Bibliographies, and Africa Today. My co- authored publication on “The Brain Drain of Health Care Professionals from Sub-Saharan Africa” was transformed into a policy brief for advocacy work and public dissemination by the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign’s Center for Global Studies through the “2013 Prisms of Globalization Lecture Series and Health Initiatives.” I have contributed to several manuscripts, including two chapters in the edited book: “Strong Women, Dangerous Times: Gender and HIV/AIDS in Africa” (2009). I am also co-author of the book: “Nkhanza: Listening to People’s Voices - Gender Based Violence in Malawi” (2005).

My scholarship intersects social justice and advocacy: I have conducted research, training and consultancy work on Malawi for various government agencies and non-governmental organizations including the World Bank, UNDP, UNICEF, Oxfam, GTZ; and a Community Needs Assessment (2016) for West Baltimore’s Set the Captives Free Outreach Center. I am also Chair of the Board of the Malawi Washington Foundation (MWF), a 501(C)3 organization that I and other Malawian women in the Washington DC metropolitan area founded in 2009.


Ph.D. in Sociology, Indiana University, Bloomington
Post-Graduate Diploma (Human Rights of Women). World University Service, Vienna, Austria
M.A. in Sociology, concentration: Gender Roles in International Development, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Bachelor of Social Science in Sociology and Public Administration, University of Malawi, Chancellor College

Research Interests

Comparative International Sociology, focusing on the intersection of:
  • gender, international development and social change;

  • public health; race; globalization and (im)migration;

  • family; youth, orphans and vulnerable children

  • food security and land rights

Recent Courses

  • SOC 1104: Introduction to Sociology: A Global Perspective

  • SOC 2208: Food, Culture and Society

  • SOC 2231: Love and Marriage: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

  • SOC 2422: Global Social Change

  • SOC 3303: Urban Sociology

  • SOC 4355: Urban and Community Studies Colloquium

Selected Publications

  • Linda L. Semu. 2018. Perilous Outcomes: the intersection of culture, maternal health (mortality and morbidity) and HIV/AIDS on Malawian women in the face of an international development consensus. In Kalipeni, E.; Iwelunmor, J.; Grigsby-Toussaint, D.; & Moise, I. K. (Eds). Public Health, Disease and Development in Africa London: Routledge Publishers.

  • Linda L. Semu. 2018. The Sociology of Kinship and Family. Core Concepts in Sociology (Wiley-Blackwell Publishers).

  • Caroline Schmitt, Linda L. Semu & Matthias D. Witte (2017) Racism and Transnationality. Transnational Social Review, 7:3, 239-243.

  • Linda L. Semu. 2013. African Societies. In Oxford Bibliographies for Sociology. Ed. Jeff Manza. New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Ezekiel Kalipeni, Linda L. Semu & Margaret Mbilizi. 2012. The Brain Drain of Health Care Professionals from Sub-Saharan Africa: A Geographic Perspective. Progress in Development Studies, special issue: Beyond the "Post" and Revisionist Discourses in African Development: Exploring Real Solutions to Africa's Problems 12 (2 & 3): 153-171.

Clubs and community involvement

  • Board Chair, Malawi Washington Foundation (

  • 2014-2018: Africa's Legacy: a student group that conducts outreach and educates the campus and wider community on the culture of Africa; helps facilitate dialogue and understanding on issues of diversity and inclusion. Guided students on program of activities, outreach and networking; and implementation of major events, such as the annual Africa's Legacy dinner.

  • 2013-Onging: Heroes Helping Hopkins, a student group that supports the Believe in Tomorrow Children's House. The group prepares home-cooked meals for families staying at the house while their children are admitted in the pediatric department of Johns Hopkins Hospital. Helps students coordinate their plans and activities.

  • 2006-Ongoing: Alpha Kappa Delta (AKD) the International Sociology Honor Society that seeks to promote excellence in the study of sociology, research of social problems and other social and intellectual activities that improve the human condition. Engaged in the nomination of candidates for induction to the honor society, facilitate induction ceremonies, advise members on engagement and scholarship.

Awards and Honors

  • McDaniel College Faculty Development Grants: awarded for research and conference presentations in 2019, 2016, 2015, 2011, 2010.

  • 2010: Faculty sponsor, mentor and co-researcher with Jocelyn McKinley, 1st recipient of the "Teagle Diversity Scholars Program" undergraduate competitive award addressing campus diversity. Conducted a study titled "The Invisible Man Looks Like Me." Presented findings at Ursinus and McDaniel College in July and November respectively.

  • 2009: Honorary member of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, McDaniel College Chapter: a society of high achieving students (GPA 3.7+). Inducted as faculty member that impacted and helped them most in their first year.

  • 2006: McDaniel College Faculty Book Award. For publication of the book, "Nkhanza, Listening to People's Voices. A Study of Gender-Based Violence in Malawi" (co-authored with M. Saur & S. Hauya-Ndau).

  • 2001: Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship, Population Council - Social Science Division, New York. Funding for doctoral dissertation research on: "The Interplay of State, Family Structure and Land: A Study on Women and Children's Well-Being in Matrilineal Households in Southern Malawi."

Linda Semu


"The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society. That is its task and its promise. To recognize this task and this promise is the mark of the classic social analyst." - C. Wright Mills, (1959): The Promise of Sociology

Sociologist C. Wright Mills concept of 'Sociological Imagination' resonates with me and guides my teaching, research and publication. In a nutshell, C. Wright Mills argues the concept that our individual experiences must be viewed in light of larger societal structures and processes. Hence, I strive to challenge my students to think of things that draw their curiosity and how they can use those as entry points to study society. So long as I remain curious about society and the human condition, my research and publication plate will remain full!