Dr. Carolan, Sociology, gives Keynote @ International Association of Critical Realism

Dr. Michael Carolan, Professor and Chair of Sociology, delivers the Keynote Address at the International Association of Critical Realism’s annual meetings in London. The title of his talk was “Getting a Feel for Sustainability: A Realist Look at an Undiagnosed Driver”.

Sociology students visit UNYP in Prague

Students from SUNY Plattsburgh and Colorado State visit UNYP

UNYP welcomed visiting students from three American universities with a reception on 26 May, where students were greeted by UNYP Student Council representatives and UNYP officials.

Studying subjects as diverse as International Entrepreneurship, Visual and Performing Arts, and Comparative Criminology, the students – over 50 of them from Texas Tech University, State University of New York at Plattsburgh, and Colorado State University – enjoyed traditional Czech snacks like chlebíčky while getting to know each other and settling in for their summer courses hosted by UNYP.

As a part of their courses, the visiting faculty members have arranged for their students to get to know the city of Prague, take in performances of the annual Prague Fringe Festival, attend lectures by Czech criminologists and other local experts, and visit Krakow, Poland.

For over a decade, UNYP has cooperated with the Rawls College of Business Administration at Texas Tech University, hosting faculty-led programs in the summer and exchange students during the rest of the year.

Since its founding in 1998, UNYP has cooperated with State University of New York institutions to offer American higher education in Prague. The State University of New York (SUNY) system is the largest comprehensive university system in the U.S., encompassing 64 institutions of higher learning and research. Through its cooperation with SUNY Empire State College, UNYP offers students from more than 50 different countries the opportunity to earn a double degree: A Czech Bachelor’s degree from UNYP and an American Bachelor’s degree from SUNY Empire State College.

Sharon Melzer, Assistant Professor, SUNY Plattsburgh said: “We are delighted to be in Prague with our students and study the Czech criminal justice system and comparative criminology.  We are very thankful for the hospitality and kindness that UNYP has shown toward their SUNY cousins as well as Colorado State University.  It is nice to be in Europe yet have a connection to home.”

We’d like to wish our visiting students and faculty members the best and hope they will enjoy their stay in Prague.

Dr. Peek, Sociology, has recent book mentioned in newsfeed

The Voice of the American Psychiatric Association and the Psychiatric Community

** Pre-Katrina Environment Was Critical in Children’s Mental Health Outcomes, Study Finds – http://p.feedblitz.com/r3.asp?l=93090739&f=760692&u=34369642&c=4793601

The social and economic circumstances surrounding children in New Orleans prior to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 more strongly affected what happened to them afterwards than did individual or personal factors, reported two sociologists in The Dialogue, according to a study published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Technical Assistance Center.

“Disasters are often depicted as events that affect everyone indiscriminately, regardless of social status,” wrote Lori Peek, Ph.D., an associate professor of sociology and co-director of the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis at Colorado State University, and Alice Fothergill, Ph.D., an associate professor of sociology at the University of Vermont. However, when pre-storm poverty, parental unemployment, poor housing, insecure neighborhoods, and unreliable access to health care and nutritious food were combined with exposure to life-threatening situations, the result was a “declining trajectory,” the researchers said. Children from poor families struggled later with increased behavioral problems, higher anxiety levels, and trouble concentrating in school, noted Peek and Fothergill. Those families often ended up in mass shelters, compared with middle-class children who could stay with family or friends outside the storm zone and had more resources to draw on as they recovered from the disaster. “Our work demonstrates how pre-existing disadvantage—the crisis before the crisis—and the profound disruption caused by a disaster like Katrina can send already vulnerable children on a downward spiral,” said the authors.

Drs. O’Connor and Opsal, Sociology, present oil and gas research findings in London

CSU Professors Tara O’Connor Shelley and Tara Opsal oil and gas research presented at the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Green Criminology Conference in London.

CSU Sociology professor Dr. Tara O’Connor Shelley was among 74 scholars from around the world participating in the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Green Criminology Conference at London South Bank University on July 7 and 8th, 2014.  The purpose of the ESRC seminar and conference series was to explore aspects of environmental, ecological, and species justice to further define the field of Green Criminology and set it apart from mainstream Criminology.  Dr. Shelley gave a presentation “Environmental Victimization: Citizen Experiences with Oil and Gas Activity in Colorado” coauthored with CSU colleague Dr. Tara Opsal.

Dr. Jeni Cross, Sociology, works to make schools more energy efficient

Contact for Reporters: Jeff Dodge 970.491.4251 Jeff.Dodge@colostate.edu

Colorado State University’s school sustainability guide named national model

Note to Reporters: A photo of the three co-authors is available with this news release online at www.news.colostate.edu.

A Colorado State University institute’s set of guidelines for making schools more energy efficient through sustainable practices has been chosen as a national model by an arm of the U.S. Green Building Council.
And it grew out of a graduate student’s thesis.
The council’s Center for Green Schools has published “The Whole-School Sustainability Framework,” a collection of principles assembled by CSU’s Institute for the Built Environment, and is urging schools around the country to adopt its recommendations on sustainable practices.
Stephanie Barr, now a research associate for IBE, presented the findings of her master’s thesis on sustainability efforts at U.S. schools during the U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild conference in 2011. The presentation caught the attention of the director of the Center for Green Schools, and “the center said they’d like us to develop it further and encourage schools and districts across the nation to use it,” said Brian Dunbar, executive director of the Institute for the Built Environment, part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.
“We were asked to take the academic research and make it a public guidebook,” Barr said.
Jennifer Cross, an associate professor of sociology and IBE’s director of research, had already examined the dynamics that allowed Rocky Mountain High School in the Poudre School District to cut its electricity use by 50 percent over a seven-year period, outperforming sister school Fossil Ridge, the first high school in the state to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver rating from the council. She gained insight into how a custodian, teacher and student group helped change the culture of the school, and those findings and her other research on the Poudre School District’s organizational transformation in sustainability were built into the guidelines.
Users don’t need to have a LEED-certified building to carry out the sustainability principles outlined in the guidebook; Cross calls it a whole-systems approach that involves educational programs and organizational culture in addition to facilities.  It also serves as an opportunity to educate students.
“We hear stories of students going back to their parents and helping the home change, and student engagement in sustainability at school leads to great career options for them,” Dunbar said.
“A land-grant institution is a perfect place for green-schools guidance to come from,” Cross said. “We’re committed to not just producing knowledge and letting it sit on a shelf, but also getting it out into practice.”
“A graduate student’s thesis can lead to something bigger, like this,” Dunbar added. “Stephanie could have said she was done after it was finished, but it grew into a national model.”
Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools, unveiled the guidebook at the Green Schools National Conference in March.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with the Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State University to present to you a guiding framework that articulates the conditions and approach to advance successful whole-school sustainability efforts,” she wrote in the publication’s introduction. “Through years of focused study, the team at CSU has developed a research-based framework that supports lasting cultural shifts toward healthier, greener schools.”
The Center for Green Schools envisions the framework as a compass to help a school or district achieve recognition in the Green Ribbon School program, which was started by the center and the U.S. Department of Education in 2010 to award the top green schools and districts in each state annually. The center is providing the framework to schools across the country that are pursuing Green Ribbon status.
Dara Ward, energy and sustainability manager for the St. Vrain Valley School District in Longmont, has already adopted many of the principles outlined in the guidebook. She said IBE is helping the St. Vrain district carry out an energy conservation pilot program in a handful of schools to identify strengths and challenges.
“We have a lot of these components in place, but they need to be put into a framework to see how it all fits together,” Ward said of the principles. “This way we can identify the critical moving parts, how they interact, what gaps exist and the necessary steps to improve the system.”
The guidebook is available on the Center for Green Schools website atwww.centerforgreenschools.org.

Alison Anson, Environmental Sociology, selected as summer intern for LAKES program

Alison Anson, a senior Environmental Sociology major, recently learned that she was selected as a summer intern for the Linking Applied Knowledge in Environmental Sustainability/Research Experience for Undergraduates (LAKES) program in Wisconsin. This program aims to better understand the root causes of phosphorus pollution and solutions through cutting edge research under research mentors in biology, sociology, economics, anthropology, mathematics, geology, or communications.  Alison will be working in the Farmer Social Networks research project this summer. This research studies social capital as a resource for mitigating phosphorus pollution, and how government and non-profit organizations can better resolve environmental issues by valuing diverse human interests and working with local stakeholders to forge lasting solutions.

This was a highly competitive process, with only 10 of over 330 applicants selected for inclusion. Tremendous congratulations to Alison, and best wishes!

Jennifer Tobin-Gurley, Sociology, 2014 Beth Hess Memorial Scholarship award winner!

Congratulations to Jennifer Tobin-Gurley. She was selected as the 2014 Beth Hess Memorial Scholarship award winner.  The committee noted that Jen exudes “the qualities that Beth embodied, including: excellent scholarship and overall academic potential, especially in the areas of gender and social inequality; and a commitment to teaching, mentoring and social activism, especially in a community college setting.”


This award comes with a stipend of $15,000 from SWS (Sociologists for Women in Society), and travel support of $300 from SSSP (Society for the Study of Social Problems), to be used to support the pursuit of graduate studies, as well as one-year student memberships in SWS and SSSP. Additionally, Jen will receive complimentary registration and banquet/reception tickets for the summer meetings of SWS, SSSP and ASA (American Sociological Association) in San Francisco.


Tremendous congratulations to Jennifer for this wonderful honor!

Prabha Unnithan Named New President of Western Social Science Association

N. Prabha Unnithan, professor of Sociology at CSU, became president of the Western Social Science Association at the group’s annual conference in Albuquerque.

Unnithan, who serves as director of CSU’s Center for the Study of Crime and Justice, will oversee WSSA for the coming year. He takes over from CSU alumnus Les Alm (Ph.D. Political Science ’88), who is a distinguished professor of public administration at Boise State University.

WSSA was founded in 1958 with a mission to foster professional study, advance research and promote the teaching of social science.Its 850 members hail from throughout the western United States, Canada and Mexico.

Expanding organization’s reach

Unnithan, a Malaysian native who has been on CSU’s faculty since 1987, is an expert on violence, corrections and other criminology subjects. He hopes to expand WSSA’s reach and include more undergraduate and graduate students in the organization.

“We have always had good participation from Canada and Mexico, and now we have more Association of Borderlands Studies members from Europe and Asia and scholars from other Latin American countries participating,” he said. “WSSA is also co-sponsoring an International Conference on Behavioral & Social Science Research in Malaysia as a way of expanding the socials sciences in a developing country and region. Since I was born and raised in Malaysia (to parents who migrated from India), this is particularly gratifying to me as the organizers invited me to work with them to plan the conference in August, 2014.”

Dr. Tara Shelley, Sociology, part of a 2014-15 Research Team to be funded by SOGES

The Institutionalization of Equity and Environmental Justice at CSU: A Proposal for an Interdisciplinary Working Group. Principal Investigators: Tara O’Connor Shelley, Department of Sociology; Melinda Laituri, Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability; and Dimitris Stevis, Department of Political Science. This research team’s mission is to explore how and why Equity and Environmental Justice are important elements of the study of the environment, public health, and sustainability at CSU.


Congratulations Dr. Shelley!


Michael Carolan, Sociology, publishes Cheaponomics: The High Cost of Low Prices

Cheaponomics is a revelation! It uncovers the devastating truth behind the modern economy of ‘bargains’. It turns out to be like a game of global Whack-a-Mole – when prices are pushed down in one place, the real costs pop up somewhere else, often in our own backyards. Michael Carolan finishes by describing a new game that would make 99% of us better off.” – Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University, Canberra, Australia and author of Growth Fetish, Affluenza and Requiem for a Species.


Do you really think you are getting a good deal when given that free mobile phone for switching service providers, if a multinational retailer undercuts its competitors or by the fact that food is relatively cheaper today in many countries than ever before?

Think again! As Michael Carolan clearly shows in this compelling book, cheapness is an illusion. The real cost of low prices is alarmingly high. It is shown for example that citizens are frequently subsidising low prices through welfare support to poorly-paid workers in their own country, or relying on the exploitation of workers in poor countries for cheap goods. Environmental pollution may not be costed into goods and services, but is paid for indirectly by people living away from its source or by future generations. Even with private cars, when the total costs of this form of mobility are tallied it proves to be an astronomically expensive model of transportation. All of these costs need to be accounted for.

The author captures these issues by the concept of “cheaponomics”. The key point is that costs and risks are socialised: we all pay for cheapness, but not at the point of purchase. Drawing on a wide range of examples and issues from over-consumption and waste to over-work, unemployment, inequality, and the depersonalising of communities, it is convincingly shown that cheapness can no longer be seen as such a bargain. Instead we need to refocus for a better sense of well-being, social justice and a balanced approach to prosperity.


For more information see http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415735155/