Caroline Sanner is a Lecturer of Sociology at the University of British Columbia. Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, she attained her PhD at the University of Missouri in Human Development and Family Science. Her teaching philosophy centers upon the notion that the truest form of learning comes in the form of thinking critically – about course content, about our interpretations of that content, and about how our social positions influence the ways in which we navigate our social worlds. Due to the ease with which we consume misinformation, her goal is to foster skills of critical thinking in the classroom, where she challenges students to deconstruct and reconstruct information, thoughtfully analyze their interpretations, and develop informed opinions as young scholars. She believes that creating critically conscious and inclusive classroom environments is vital to academic growth, and she seeks to stimulate learning through reflective self-awareness pedagogy. In her classes, you can expect to explore the question: How do our social locations influence the ways in which we experience family life?
In addition to teaching university courses, Caroline has worked as a community educator. In Missouri, she taught research-based programs on topics such as how to strengthen romantic partnerships, how to nurture and support children during parental separation and divorce, and how to create healthy stepfamily dynamics. She is passionate about using research to inform the allocation of resources devoted to strengthening family ties (from interventions at the family level to those at sociocultural and political levels). In her classes, you can also expect to explore the question: How can research can be used to create programs or policies designed to benefit people, families, and communities?
Current Teaching (2019-2020):
- Family Context of Human Development (FMST 210)
- Diversity in Family Forms (SOCI 320)
- Human Sexuality (FMST 316)
Given that families are increasingly complex, Caroline’s research is focused on identifying processes and dynamics that promote resilience in diverse family structures (e.g., divorced families, stepfamilies, ex-stepfamilies, ‘step-nuclear’ families). By exploring the question, How do adaptive, well-functioning complex families differ from those who struggle?, the purpose of her work is to inform the efforts of program developers, policy makers, and helping professionals (e.g., family therapists) who aim to enhance the well-being of people in complex kinship networks. For example, she has studied ex-stepfamilies to explore the impact of divorce on stepfamily relationships and identify the conditions under which meaningful step-relationships are maintained across family structure transitions. Given that family transitions often require renegotiations that make (step)family relationships vulnerable to dissolution, her research explores how these relationships adapt to change and allow for continued access to supportive resources from stepfamily members.
Her work is also driven by the ideology that relationships and families cannot be understood outside of the larger social contexts in which they develop. As such, she have considered the ways in which complex families are impacted by social norms and institutions. For instance, the relative lack of institutional and social support for divorced families and stepfamilies can make navigating (step)family roles and transitions challenging. Caroline has explored the perceived lack of support and resources available to stepmothers, specifically women who do not have biological children when they become stepmothers. Primarily, she has investigated her research questions using qualitative methods and feminist frameworks, exploring richness of context through connecting individual experience to larger social systems. She has authored research published in prominent family science journals such as Journal of Marriage and Family, Journal of Family Psychology, and Journal of Family Theory & Review. Her work has also been recognized at the national level; in 2018, Caroline recently received the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) Student Award, given annually to a graduate student who has demonstrated excellence and shows high potential for contributing to the field of Family Science.
Ganong, L., Jensen, T., Sanner, C., Russell, L, Chapman, A., & Coleman, M. (in press). Linking stepfamily functioning, marital quality, and step-relationship quality. Family Relations.
Sanner, C., Ganong, L., Coleman, M., Chapman, A., & Kang, Y. (in press). Building family relationships with inherited stepgrandparents. Family Relations.
Ganong, L., Jensen, T., Sanner, C., Russell, L, & Coleman, M. (in press). Stepfathers’ affinity-seeking with stepchildren, stepfather-stepchild relationship quality, marital quality, and stepfamily cohesion among stepfathers and mothers. Journal of Family Psychology.
Ganong, L., Jensen, T., Sanner, C., Chapman, A., & Coleman, M. (2019). Stepparents’ attachment style, parental gatekeeping, and stepparents’ affinity-seeking with stepchildren. Family Process. Advance online publication. doi:10.1111/famp.12448
Ganong L., Russell, L., Sanner, C., Chapman, A., Ko, K., & Coleman, M. (2018). Responsibility inferences and judgments about helping older parents and stepparents. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0265407518786808
Sanner, C., Russell, L., Coleman, M., & Ganong, L. (2018). Half- and stepsibling relationships: A systemic integrative review. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 10, 755-784. doi:10.1111/jftr.12291
Sanner, C., Coleman, M., & Ganong, L. (2018). Relationships with former stepgrandparents after remarriage dissolution. Journal of Family Psychology, 32, 251-261. doi:10.1037/fam0000377
Chapman, A., Kang, Y., Ganong, L., Sanner, C., Coleman, M. (2018). A comparison of stepgrandchildren’s perceptions of long-term and later-life stepgrandparents, Journal of Aging Studies, 47, 104-113. doi:10.1016/j.jaging.2018.03.005
Sanner, C., & Coleman, M. (2017). (Re)constructing family images: Stepmotherhood before biological motherhood.Journal of Marriage and Family, 79, 1462-1477. doi:10.1111/jomf.12428
Chapman, A., Sanner, C., Ganong, L., Coleman, M., Russell, L., Kang, Y., & Mitchell, S. (2016). Exploring the complexity of stepgrandparent-stepgrandchild relationships. Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research, 10, 101-130, doi:10.1108/S1530-353520160000010005.
Chapman, A., Kang, Y., Ganong, L., Coleman, M., Sanner, C., & Russell, L. (2016). Negotiating a place in the family: A grounded theory exploration of stepgrandmothers’ enactment of roles. The Gerontologist,1, 1-10, doi:10.1093/geront/gnw112
Sanner, C., Ganong, L, & Coleman, M. (in press). Remarriage. In J. Ponzetti (Ed.), Macmillan Encyclopedia of Intimate and Family Relationships: An Interdisciplinary Approach.
Ganong, L., Sanner, C., & Coleman, M. (in press). Divorce and stepgrandparents. In C. Fruehauf & B. Hayslip (Eds.),Handbook of grandparenting: The changing dynamics of family relationships. NY: Springer.
Ganong, L, Coleman, M., & Sanner, C. (in press). Divorced and remarried parenting. In M.H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of Parenting 3rdEd.
Sanner, C., Ganong, L., & Coleman, M. (2018). Remarriage. In The SAGE Encyclopedia of Lifespan Human Development. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference.
Ganong, L., Coleman, M., & Sanner, C. (2018). Diverse families/stepfamilies. In The SAGE Encyclopedia of Lifespan Human Development. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference.
Sanner, C., Coleman, M., Ganong, L. (2016). Famiglie ricomposte (Exploring stepfamilies: A journey). In M. Accordini (Ed.). Milan, Italy: FrancoAngeli.