Sociology and Climate Change: a panel discussion


Friday, October 18, 2019, 9:00am to 11:00am


William James Hall, 33 Kirkland Street, Room B1

Sociology and Climate Change: a panel discussion

In the face of cascading ecological and social crises associated with weather, food, water, energy and migration, the analysis of climate change has assumed urgent intellectual and political importance, within and beyond universities. This special panel discussion will consider key conceptual, epistemological and methodological issues in this research field as well as substantive sociological questions regarding the histories, expressions, politics and consequences of climate change.

• How have sociologists contributed to the study of climate change, and how does their work articulate to, or contradict, the work of earth scientists, economists and representatives of other major disciplinary perspectives?

• To what degree does the study of climate change – historical and contemporary – require a reconfiguration or even reinvention of inherited sociological epistemologies, concepts and methods?

• To what degree does climate change require us to rethink the “canons” of sociological theory and research? What kinds of curricular changes might be required to equip new generations to investigate the social dimensions of climate change and climate-induced crises?

• How might sociologists contribute to our understanding of emergent climate crises and ongoing struggles over environmental (in)justice, whether in scholarly debates or in the public sphere?

• What role might sociologists play in ongoing debates over the politics of fossil fuel investment and consumption within the institutional contexts in which they work, including the University?

Neil Brenner, Professor of Urban Theory at the Graduate School of Design and Faculty Affiliate in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University will lead the conversation, featuring:

Justin Farrell, Associate Professor of Sociology at Yale University, and author of Billionaire Wilderness: The Ultra-Wealthy and the Remaking of the American West

Hannah Holleman, Associate Professor of Sociology at Amherst College, and author of Dust Bowls of Empire: Imperialism, Environmental Politics, and the Injustice of "Green" Capitalism

Eric Klinenberg, Professor of Sociology, Helen Gould Shepard Professor in Social Science, Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge, and author of Palaces for the People

Vivian Shaw, Harvard College Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University, who is writing a book on post-disaster citizenship and the politics of race after Fukushima

Mary Waters, PVK Professor of Arts and Sciences and the John L. Loeb Professor of Sociology at Harvard University, and PI of the Resilience in Survivors of Katrina (RISK) Project

This event is sponsored by the Department of Sociology and the Harvard University Center for the Environment.


All are welcome.