College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Sociology

Environment, Technology, & Community


All societies are simultaneously organized social systems and complex ecosystems. Each system is unavoidably dependent upon the other; society cannot function without ecosystem capital and services just as ecosystems cannot remain viable if societies are unmindful of their broader impacts. These are the foundational ideas of environmental sociology, a field that has an illustrious history at WSU, and they lie at the core of teaching and research in the Environment, Technology, and Community cluster. Graduate students can explore environment-society interactions throughseminars offered by faculty with a diverse and intersecting range oftopical areas and research interests.


Washington State University was a leading institution in the founding of environmental sociology in the 1970s and 1980s. The vision and framework for this new field of study are traceable to germinal articles published by WSU sociologists William Catton and Riley Dunlap. They pushed this line of inquiry from an incipient recognition that people care about the environment to a thoroughgoing critique of the social sciences for overlooking the intersection of the social and natural environments. They also challenged the social sciences to adapt theories and methods to better understand the coupling of human and ecological systems. Other WSU faculty-Lewis Carter, Don Dillman, Lee Freese, William Freudenburg, Andrew Jorgenson, Loren Lutzenhiser, Marvin Olsen, Eugene Rosa, James Short, David Sonnenfeld - moved the challenge forward and further solidified WSU's identity as a world leader in this field. The current faculty is building on and extending this tradition.


The WSU sociology department continues to be a national and international leader in environmental sociology, making significant contributions to the cumulative knowledge of society-environment interactions while training the top-flight environmental researchers of the next generation.The graduate seminar in Environmental Sociology provides a broad survey of the social forces producing environmental change, especially the causes and consequences of threats to environmental sustainability.  The Human Ecology seminar typically provides an even broader scope for understanding society-biophysical couplings and threats to sustainability with its examination of these couplings in an evolutionary context. Special topics seminars, for example on environmental social theory, globalization, technology, and environmental risk and inequality, deepen opportunities for graduate training and course-based research.


Faculty Research

Don Dillman has maintained a research program that examines the evolution of technology use in rural communities. He has published work on the role of information technologies in restructuring rural communities, on how the structure of small rural communities are being modified by the evolution of information technologies and, more how use of the Internet has influenced people’s participation and leadership roles in community associations. Part of Dillman’s research program is aimed at improving survey methods.

  • Dillman, Don A. 2007. Mail and Internet Surveys: The Tailored Design, Second Edition—2007 Update. New York: John Wiley.
  • Stern, Michael J. and Don A. Dillman. 2006. “Community Participation, Social Ties and Use of the Internet”. City and Community 5 (4):409-424.
  • Allen, John C. and Don A. Dillman. 1994. Against All Odds: Rural Community in the Information Age. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.


Gregory Hooks brings a multi-faceted research program to the study of the environment and the study of spatial processes. During AY 2009-10, Hook is Visiting Research Chair in Health, Science and the Environment at McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada); his research is focused on environmental inequality in the Detroit-Windsor urban area. He is currently deploying geographic information systems and detailed data collection to study Native American exposure to unexploded ordnance and other environmental dangers that are a legacy of defense production and military land uses. He has also examined the local impact of prisons.

  • Gregory Hooks and Chad Smith. 2004. "The Treadmill of Destruction: National Sacrifice Areas and Native Americans”. American Sociological Review 69(4): 558-76.
  • Gregory Hooks and Chad Smith. 2005a. “Treadmills of Production and Destruction: Threats to the Environment Posed by Militarism” Organizations and Environment 18(1): 19-37.
  • Gregory Hooks and Chad Smith. 2005b. “A Quiet Environmental Crisis”. National Science Foundation SES # 0518722. (June 2005 – August 2008).
  • Gregory Hooks, Linda Lobao, Clay Mosher, and Thomas Rotolo. 2004. "The Prison Industry: Carceral Expansion and Employment in U.S. Counties, 1969-1994". Social Science Quarterly (85): 37-57.
  • Linda Lobao and Gregory Hooks. 2003. “Public Employment, Welfare Transfers and Economic Well-Being across Local Populations: Does a Lean and Mean Government Benefit the Masses?” Social Forces (82): 519-56.
  • Linda Lobao, Gregory Hooks, and Ann Tickamyer (eds.). 2007. "The Sociology of Spatial Inequality". Albany, NY: SUNY Press.


Scott Frickel’s research centers primarily on the politics of environmental knowledge and its consequences for science, the state, and society. Much of his current research calls attention to questions of environmental health and risk in post-Katrina New Orleans.

  • Frickel, Scott. 2010. “Shadow Mobilization in Environmental and Health Justice.” In Social Movements and the Transformation of U. S. Health Care, Jane Banaszak-Holl, Sandra R. Levitsky, and Mayer N. Zald, editors. New York: Oxford University Press, in press.
  • Frickel, Scott, Richard Campanella and M. Bess Vincent. 2009. “Mapping Knowledge Investments in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: A New Approach for Assessing Regulatory Agency Responses to Environmental Disaster.” Environmental Science & Policy 12(2):119-133.
  • Frickel, Scott and James R. Elliott. 2008. “Tracking Industrial Land Use Conversions: A New Approach for Studying Relict Waste and Urban Development” Organization & Environment 21(2):128-147.


Jessica Goldberger (Rural Sociology) studies agricultural knowledge, science, and technology in the United States and developing world. Goldberger is particularly interested in the sources of agricultural knowledge – from non-governmental organizations that share organic farming information with smallholders in Sub-Saharan Africa to seed dealers who promote the latest agricultural biotechnology to farmers who actively engage in on-farm experimentation.

  • Jessica Goldberger. (Forthcoming). "Non-Governmental Organizations, Strategic Bridge Building, and the ‘Scientization’ of Organic Agriculture in Kenya". Agriculture and Human Values.
  • Jessica Goldberger. (Forthcoming). "Diffusion and Adoption of Non-Certified Organic Agriculture: A Case Study from Semi-Arid Makueni District, Kenya". Journal of Sustainable Agriculture.
  • Jessica Goldberger, Jeanne Merrill, and Terrance Hurley. (2005). "Bt Corn Farmer Compliance with Insect Resistance Management Requirements in Minnesota and Wisconsin". AgBioForum. 8(2/3): 151-160.


Erik Johnson’s work examines the development and outcomes of environmental movements in the U.S. and abroad.

  • Johnson, Erik W., Jon Agnone, and John D. McCarthy. Forthcoming. “Movement Organizations, Synergistic Tactics and Environmental Public Policy.” Social Forces.
  • Johnson, Erik W., Yoshitaka Saito, and Makoto Nishikido. 2009. “The Organizational Demography of Japanese Environmentalism.” Sociological Inquiry. 79(4): 481-504.
  • Johnson, Erik W. 2008. “Social Movement Size, Organizational Diversity and the Making of Federal Law.” Social Forces 86(3): 967-93.
  • Johnson, Erik W. 2006. “Changing Issue Representation Among Major United States Environmental Movement Organizations.” Rural Sociology 71(1): 132-54.


Raymond Jussaume (Rural Sociology) has studied the social, economic and political impacts of trade and investment in food and agriculture, with particular emphasis on the relationships between and within the United States and East Asia. More recently, he has become involved in research on sustainability issues surrounding local food systems, particularly in the context of the United States, Europe and Asia.

  • Glenna, Leland and Raymond A. Jussaume, Jr. 2007. "Characteristics of Organic Farmers in Washington State Who Are Willing to Use GMOs" Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems.Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 118-124.
  • Ostrom, Marcy and Raymond A. Jussaume Jr. (Forthcoming - 2007). "Assessing the Significance of Direct Farmer-Consumer Linkages as a Change Strategy: Civic or Opportunistic?" - in Hinrichs, Clare and Thomas Lyson (eds.). Remaking the North American Food System.
  • Kondoh, Kazumi and Raymond A. Jussaume Jr. 2006. "Contextualizing Farmers’ Attitudes Towards Biotechnology". Agriculture and Human Values. Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 341-352.








All societies are simultaneously organized social systems and complex ecosystems. Each system is dependent upon the other...


Sociology department faculty who contribute to the Environment, Technology, and Community cluster employ a variety of methodological approaches, analytical tools, and theoretical traditions to examine environment-society interactions across micro-, meso-, and macro-levels of organization.


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