Today @ Colorado State has been replaced by SOURCE. This site exists as an archive of Today @ Colorado State stories between January 1, 2009 and September 8, 2014.

Research / Discovery

New book explores role of sociology in environmental debates

February 27, 2013

Michael Carolan advocates for understanding the 'why' and 'how' as well as 'what' when searching for ecological solutions.

What is environmental sociology? Why is sociology important for current environmental debates? Michael Carolan, professor and chair of the Sociology Department, answers these questions and more in his new book Society and the Environment: Pragmatic Solutions to Ecological Issues.

Society and the Environment argues for the inclusion of sociology into environmental debates, which are often dominated by environmental scientists and engineers. Though scientists and engineers are adept at telling us what the environmental issue is, Carolan argues that environmental sociology is significant because it helps us consider why the environmental issue exists and explore how we might find a solution.

These “why” and “how” questions require a strong working knowledge of social, political, economic, and cultural values, which makes these questions better suited for social scientists. Society and the Environment illustrates that a grounded understanding of society and human behavior can help us take the technical arguments of environmental scientists and engineers and create pragmatic environmental solutions that are socially, economically, politically, and organizationally probable.

Society and the Environment addresses these topics through analyses of issues such as greenhouse gasses, biodiversity, water, population, and food systems, offering fast facts, implications of the of the issues, and possible solutions for each issue. Solutions to environmental problems may be technically possible but that does not mean they are societally probable, and Society and the Environment illustrates that we can create probable, pragmatic solutions to environmental issues by addressing them with a grounded understanding of society.

Carolan has published several books on environmental sociology and the sociology of food systems such as Reclaiming Food Security, The Sociology of Food and Agriculture, and The Real Cost of Cheap Food. He teaches courses in environmental sociology at CSU including Environmental Sociology, Sociology of Food Systems and Agriculture, and Global Environmental Issues.

For more information on Society and the Environment, visit

Contact: Lindsey Middendorf
Phone: 491-2374