Coordinator: Dana R. Fisher | (301) 405-6469 | drfisher [at] umd.edu
The University of Maryland’s Department of Sociology offers an emerging area in Environmental Sociology, which focuses on diverse approaches to understanding the relationship between society and the natural environment. Research in this sub-field spans multiple levels of analysis and methodological approaches, and readily connects with other sociological fields, including social psychology; demography; political sociology; gender, work and family; and globalizing theory. Four regular faculty members identify environmental sociology as an area of interest. A limited number of courses are currently offered at the graduate level, with more to come.
Associated Research Center
There are very strong ties between the environmental sociology program and the Program for Society and the Environment at the University of Maryland (PSE). The PSE is an interdisciplinary program that connects faculty from across the social sciences and the UMd Policy School to focus on issues related to the social side of environmental issues. Three members of the PSE Executive Committee are faculty in the Sociology Department. Through the PSE, graduate students gain interdisciplinary exposure to research by scholars working on related issues in different fields. Graduate students are invited to participate in the varied workshops, seminars, and other happenings of the Program. The PSE provides space for its graduate student fellows on the 3rd floor of the Art-Sociology Building, many of whom are sociology students. Moreover, the PSE offers support to graduate students through the Graduate Student travel and research grant program, which was inaugurated in 2013.
University of Maryland Sociology faculty members especially involved in environmental sociology are Dana R. Fisher, Kurt Finsterbusch, Rashawn Ray, and Christina Prell. The faculty members in the program are engaging in numerous research projects that are related to the society-environment relationship. Their research interests include environmental activism, environmental politics, racial differences in environmental engagement and environmental networks.
Graduate Student Research Opportunities and Employment
In addition to working with individual faculty on research, graduate students can find employment as research assistants in a variety of projects within the sociology department and in the Washington DC area. Students are encouraged to present papers at regional and national professional meetings and to publish their work in professional journals. There are also many opportunities to develop teaching skills that will be helpful in future employment, as environmental sociology is an increasingly popular component of the sociology undergraduate curriculum. Additionally, several programs around campus have growing interest in the social side of environmental issues, including the NSF-funded National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center: SESYNC.