Understanding critical association between societal well-being and environmental quality has its origins in Sociology – more specifically, the sub-discipline of environmental sociology. Students interested in this association have an increasingly wide array of career options to consider. If you are interested in research, graduate study in environmental sociology enables you to explore the various forms of interaction between human societies and the environment, focusing on the social dimensions of the surrounding natural and human-made environments. For example, you could seek to understand environmentalism as a social movement, the ways in which societal members perceive of environmental problems, and the origins of human-caused environmental degradation. The inequitable social distribution of environmental hazards is another central area of research, examining the processes by which socially disadvantaged populations come to experience greater exposures to a variety of environmental hazards. These environmental inequities are investigated at the individual level as well as at the community level, national level, and global level. Students interested in graduate study in environmental sociology are encouraged to inquire about our graduate program’s historically prominent focus in environmental sociology, as well as other environmental sociology and environmental studies graduate programs in the United States by clicking on the following links:
- WSU graduate program in environmental sociology [<Link to graduate program>]
- ASA Environment & Technology Section’s list of U.S. environmental sociology and studies graduate programs
Sociology students who have taken courses related to environmental sociology will be prepared for employment in a wide variety of private and public agencies with an environmental mission; for example, local and state departments of ecology, community recycling programs, environmental action groups, consulting firms, lobbying organizations, and international non-governmental organizations. These courses expose the student to a balance of sociological theory, empirical research methods and substantive investigations. Sociology faculty teaching these courses are known for their research on topics including risk, environmental impacts of technology, the effects of international trade and investment on environmental degradation, and militarism and environmental inequality.
Students interested in studying environmental sociology should take regularly-offered courses such as, Society and Environment (Soc 332), Globalization (415), Society and Technology (Soc 430), and Urbanization and Community Organization (Soc 433). Students are also encouraged to interact with our environmental sociology faculty [<Link to environment faculty>] through their other course offerings or participate in their research projects for other opportunities to study environmental sociology.