Sociology and Sustainability


Earth Week provides good occasion to reflect upon connections between sustainability and one’s own field. A recent Sustainability Workshop for Maryville College faculty gave me the chance to do just that.

In what ways does Sociology incorporate intentional consideration of the earth and our impact on it? Are the social structures, relationships, and institutions that we construct sustainable in the long run? Does the teaching and research that we do as sociologists adequately open spaces for reflection upon this?

The American Sociological Association (ASA) is a participating association in DANS, the Disciplinary Associations Network for Sustainability. The ASA member section on Environment and Technology is shifting sociology’s focus toward the integrated, systemic effect humans have on their social and physical worlds. Sociologists are helping us think about environmental justiceAmerican environmentalism, and climate change

This is the sociological imagination at its best: situating personal biographies within history and agency within social structure. My sense is that Sociology has much to offer, and still a long way to go.


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