Meet Damien Contessa
Assistant Teaching Professor, Sociology
Phone: (813) 257-3450
Address: 401 W. Kennedy Blvd. Tampa, FL 33606
2003 State University of New York at New Paltz, B.A.
2008 Northern Arizona University, M.A.
2016 University of South Florida, Ph.D.
Introduction to Sociology
Damien Contessa’s areas of expertise include social psychology and environmental sociology, with an emphasis on narrative and qualitative methods, more specifically the social interactions between people and wild animals in public spaces.
Contessa's areas of teaching interest include applied sociology as well as contemplative pedagogy, with an emphasis on the application of sociological learning in personal development and community engagement through collaboration and empathetic understanding.
In his work, Contessa embraces an interdisciplinary approach to research, teaching and scholarship, and has had the fortunate opportunity to study with scholars across different disciplines, including sociology, geography, anthropology, political science and communication. In his dissertation, he integrated research from the fields of social psychology, cultural anthropology and environmental studies to look at the storytelling that arises when wild animals don’t do what they are expected to do in public places. More specifically, he employed narrative analysis and ethnography to examine three case studies where “wild” animals unexpectedly challenged, transgressed or blurred socially defined boundaries in public spaces. He has published essays related to his research interests in Humanity and Society
and Ecological Anthropology
, and presented his research at national and regional conferences such as American Sociological Association, National Communication Association and Pacific Sociological Association.
As an educator and mentorship leader, Contessa has twice been awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award in Sociology at USF, participated in the USF sociology department’s award winning teacher training program, facilitated the Interdisciplinary Social Sciences’ Internship program, mentored undergraduate thesis projects, and lead both online and in-person courses. As an instructor, he has taught courses such as introduction to sociology, self and society, classical theory, social problems, social psychology and environmental sociology.
2016-2019 Graduate Student Teaching Mentor
2015 Distinguished Teaching Award, Department of Sociology, University of South Florida
2014 Distinguished Teaching Award, Department of Sociology, University of South Florida