Affiliated Faculty

Steven R. Brechin My research interests are at the intersections of environmental, organizational and political sociology. I was trained at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I have been conducting for nearly 15 years ethnographic fieldwork in Belize Central America but my research over the years has taken me to Africa, and Asia as well as Latin America and the Caribbean. In Belize, I have been exploring the relationship between domestic and internationally-based civil society organizations and their engagement with the government of Belize on environment-development issues. Of interest, most of the more robust domestic civil society environmental groups are in contract with the government to manage many of Belize’s most spectacular ecological resources including the Mesoamerican reef system. This has led to all sorts of complications. With the recent discovery of oil in the country and current push by government for more mega-scaled instead of small-scaled tourism, the stage is set for major conflicts within this small country between the economic and political elites and most of Belize’s citizens. I am also interested in civil society as a category of citizen-based actions and organizations and the tensions these actions and organizations face in a growing market society ideology and their relationships to democratic processes.

Selected Publications

Brechin, S.R., and G. D. Ness. 2013. “Looking Back at the Gap: IOs as Organizations a Quarter Century Later.” Journal of International Organizations Studies 4 (Special Issue): 14-39.

Brechin, S.R. and M. Bhandari. 2011. “Perceptions of Climate Change Worldwide.” WIREs Climate Change 2:871-885.

Brechin, S.R. and O. Salas. 2011. “Government-NGO Networks for Nature Protection in Belize, Central America: Examining the Theory of the Hollow State in a Developing Country Context.” Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research 3(3): 263-274.


Co-PI. Rutgers University supported Symposium (2014-2015). “Global Climate Change and Inequality: Local to Global Perspectives” ($10,000).

Co-PI, with Catherine Gerard. Summer Institute Project with Maxwell’s PARCC Program and the University of Belize, Oak Foundation (2013-2016). “Environmental Governance and Conflict Management in Belize” ($218,500).

Karen A. Cerulo Professor Cerulo’s research addresses culture, cognition and technology. One prominent theme in her work concerns new communication technologies. She explores the ways in which emerging communication media can change the ways in which individuals perceive social actors and social groups, experience social connectedness, and define forums of social action. Another of Cerulo’s research themes concerns the conceptualization of the best and worst of people, places, objects and events. Her book Never Saw It Coming explored cultural impediments to conceptualizing worst case scenarios.  

Selected Publications

Cerulo, Karen A.  2014. “Communication in the Internet Age.” Pp. 370-378 in M. Sasaki et al. (eds.) The Concise Encyclopedia of Comparative Sociology. The Netherlands: Brill.

Cerulo, Karen A.  2009. “Non-Humans in Social Interaction.” Annual Review of Sociology 35: 531-552.

Cerulo, Karen A. 2006. Never Saw It Coming: Cultural Challenges to Envisioning the Worst.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Honors and Awards

The Robin M. Williams Jr. Lectureship, Eastern Sociological Society, 2013.  

Merit Award, Eastern Sociological Society, 2013.

Faculty Scholar-Teaching Award, Rutgers University, 2012.

Lee Clarke Professor Lee Clarke is author of Mission Improbable and Worst Cases, both from the University of Chicago Press. He has written about the Y2K problem, risk communication, panic, civil defense, evacuation, community response to disaster, organizational failure, and near earth objects. His edited volume, Terrorism and Disaster: New Threats, New Ideas, was published in 2003. He is often invited to speak about leadership, culture, disaster, and organizational and technological failures; he consults with corporations, government agencies, and research foundations. Professor Clarke is currently writing a book about the boundaries between politics and science, focusing on the problem of wetlands loss and the idea of “coastal restoration” off the coast of Louisiana. He has served on a National Academy of Science committee whose report, “Reopening Public Facilities After a Biological Attack: A Decision-Making Framework,” was published in June 2005.

Selected Publications

Clarke, Lee. 2006. Worst Cases: Terror and Catastrophe in the Popular Imagination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Clarke, Lee. 1999. Mission Improbable: Using Fantasy Documents to Tame Disaster. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Clarke, Lee. 1989. Acceptable Risk? Making Decisions in a Toxic Environment. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.


Co-PI, with Harvey Molotch. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Social Science Research Council (2007-2009). “Expert Knowledge and Prediction before Katrina.”

Honors and Awards

Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2009.

 Zaire Dinzey-Flores Zaire Dinzey-Flores’ research focuses on understanding how the built environment mediates community life and social inequality. She is particularly interested in housing and urban residential (housing and neighborhood) design: the underlying logics and policies that drive design, how design is interpreted, used, and experienced, and the consequences for communities and residents of cities. Her book, Locked In, Locked Out: Gated Communities in a Puerto Rican City, examines race, class, and gender inequality as they are recreated and contained in and negotiated through the physical built environment, and particularly through the use of community gates in private and public housing enclaves in Puerto Rico. Her current projects examine the cross national influences, actors, and laborers that shape home and neighborhood built environments and segregation and its relationship to space.

Selected Publications

Dinzey-Flores, Zaire. 2013. Locked In, Locked Out: Gated Communities in a Puerto Rican City. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Dinzey-Flores, Zaire. 2013. “Islands of Prestige, Gated Ghettos, and Urban-less Lifestyles in Puerto Rico,” Latin American Perspectives, 40(2): 95-104.

Dinzey-Flores, Zaire. 2007. “Temporary Housing, Permanent Communities: Public Housing Policy and Design in Puerto Rico.” Journal of Urban History, 33(3): 467-492.

Honors and Awards

The Robert E. Park Award, for Locked In, Locked Out: Gated Communities in a Puerto Rican City, Community and Urban Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association, 2014.

Norah MacKendrick Norah MacKendrick studies environmental health, with a focus on social responses to chemical body burdens and toxins in food and consumer products. Her work also addresses consumer citizenship, food politics, and gender.

Selected Publications

MacKendrick, Norah. (2014). “More work for mother: Chemical body burdens as a maternal responsibility." Gender & Society 28(5): 705-728.

Cairns, K., Johnston, J. and N. MacKendrick. (2013). “Feeding the 'organic child': Mothering through ethical consumption.” Journal of Consumer Culture 13(2): 97-118.

MacKendrick, N.A. (2010). “Media framing of body burdens: Precautionary consumption and the individualization of risk.” Sociological Inquiry 80(1): 126-149.


Research Council Grant (2013-14)

Lauren J. Krivo Lauren Krivo’s research focuses on the environment focuses on the social and spatial context of crime and urban inequality with a particular emphasis on the consequences of ethnoracial segregation and concentrated disadvantage/affluence for urban neighborhood crime. In her research on spatial inequality, she has examined how residential inequalities in disadvantage and advantage are reproduced in the places that people go away from home as well as how local segregation is related to urban neighborhood crime. Recent work examines socioeconomic segregation in where people go for routine activities. She is also currently studying geographic mobility across urban space and inequality in how people experience the places they go in their everyday routines (with Zaire Dinzey-Flores, Idit Fast, and Hana Shepherd).

Selected Publications

Krivo, Lauren J., Reginald A. Byron, Catherine A. Calder, Ruth D. Peterson, Christopher R. Browning, Mei-Po Kwan, and Jae Yong Lee. 2015. “Patterns of Local Segregation: Do They Matter for Crime?” Social Science Research 54:303-318

Jackson, Aubrey L., Christopher R. Browning, Lauren J. Krivo, Mei-Po Kwan, and Heather M. Washington. 2015. “The Role of Immigrant Concentration Within and Beyond Residential Neighborhoods in Adolescent Alcohol Use.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence. online first, DOI 10.1007/s10964-015-0333-x.

Krivo, Lauren J., Heather M. Washington, Ruth D. Peterson, Christopher R. Browning, Catherine A. Calder, and Mei-Po Kwan. 2013. “Social Isolation of Disadvantage and Advantage: The Reproduction of Inequality in Urban Space.” Social Forces 92:141-164.


Co-PI, with Maria Vélez and Christopher Lyons. National Science Foundation, Sociology & Law and Social Science Programs (2014-2016). “Crime and Community in a Changing Society: The National Neighborhood Crime Study 2” ($417,900).  

Co-PI, with Ruth D. Peterson, Christopher R. Browning, Catherine A. Calder, and Mei-Po Kwan. National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse (2009-2012). “Spatial Patterns of Social Isolation, Youthful Marijuana Use, and Sexual/HIV Risk” ($697,849).

Karen M. O’Neill  Karen M. O’Neill studies how land and water policies change the standing of program beneficiaries and experts and change government's claims to authority and power. She is currently working on a co-edited book studying whether institutions have changed in response to Hurricane Sandy. Her book Rivers by Design (Duke University Press) analyzes why local elites pressed for a national program of flood control, which has channeled rivers and drained wetlands in the United States. A co-edited book, Katrina's Imprint: Race and Vulnerability in America (Rutgers University Press), shows how policies on race, transportation, and land use contributed to the devastation of New Orleans. She is currently studying biological and organizational connectivity along an urban river in New Jersey, using network analysis to consider whether towns and environmental organizations recognize and foster ecological functions that cross town borders. Professor O’Neill’s articles on natural resources and political power consider why national governments preserve parklands, why rural and urban areas present different problems for watershed planners, and why communities in the U.S. rural-urban fringe adopt growth management policies. Another study of three small towns in New Jersey is investigating how towns are planning for rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy, given the limitations of small town resources and expertise. Other articles study how government organizations prepare for risk and respond to emergencies, how the public perceives experts on food, and how experts’ prestige and government legitimacy fared during a policy crisis.

Selected Publications

O’Neill, Karen, M., Thomas K. Rudel, Thomas, K., and Melanie H. McDermott. 2011. “Why Environmentally Constrained Towns Choose Growth Controls.” City and Community 10(2): 111-130.

Rudel, Thomas, K., O'Neill, Karen, Gottlieb, Paul, McDermott, Melanie, and Colleen Hatfield.  2011. “From Middle to Upper Class Sprawl? Land Use Controls and Changing Patterns of Real Estate Development in Northern New Jersey.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 101(3): 1-16.                                      

O’Neill, Karen, M. 2008.  “Broken Levees, Broken Lives, and a Broken Nation after Hurricane Katrina.” Southern Cultures 14(2): 89-108.


Co-PI, with Cara Cuite, Steven Decker, William Hallman, Chris Obropta, and David Robinson. CSAPP-26, NY/NJ Sea Grant (2014+). “Best Practices in Coastal Storm Risk Communication” ($149,000).

Co-PI, with Steven Handel, Joanna Burger, and Chris Obropta; with Sasaki Associates and Arup Engineering. Rebuild by Design competition team, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) (2013-2014). Phases I and II: Research and design preparation, post-Hurricane Sandy ($200,000).

Co-PI, with Ken Mitchell, Melanie McDermott, and Mariana Leckner. #1324792, National Science Foundation, Infrastructure Management and Extreme Events Program (2013-2014). “RAPID: Post-Disaster Risk Redefinition in Small New Jersey Municipalities during the Initial Recovery Period following Super Storm Sandy” ($24,992).

Co-Pi, with Joan G. Ehrenfeld, Myla Aronson, Kirk R. Barrett, Nina H. Fefferman, and Rachael L. Shwom. #0948896, National Science Foundation, Behavior and Cognitive Science, Long Term Ecological Research Program (2009-2013). “Connectivity along Urban Rivers:  A Keystone Process for Urban Ecosystems” ($299,886).

Thomas K. Rudel For the past thirty years, first by example and later more self-consciously, I have tried to develop a comparative historical approach to understanding how coupled natural and human systems work. Two intellectual traditions come together in comparative historical analyses. One, drawn primarily from natural and social science, seeks to understand regularities in behaviors, often at a single point in time. The other, drawn most clearly from history, focuses on the sometimes disorderly or idiosyncratic sequences and concatenations of events that together constitute the ‘story’ of a particular people or place. While natural and social scientists try to understand the structures that generate recurring behaviors, historians focus on narrating how ‘one thing leads to another’ and eventually culminate in an event that changes lives. In the hands of historians, these stories become narrative explanations for historically significant events. This combination of methods is especially well suited for investigating the politics of environmental issues. The comparative dimension treats new policies as opportunities for comparison with old policies. As one observer put it, “… policies are experiments. Learn from them!” (Lee, 1993). The historical dimension identifies, through narratives, the structures of situations and sequences of behaviors that do or do not lead to environmental reforms. All of my books and a large proportion of my articles on landscape changes in North and South America use this approach.  

Selected Publications

Thomas K. Rudel. 2013. Defensive Environmentalists and the Dynamics of Global Reform. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press.

Thomas K. Rudel, JoAnn Carmin, and Timmons Roberts. 2011. “The Political Economy of the Environment.”  Annual Review of Sociology 37: 221-237

Thomas K. Rudel. 2005. Tropical Forests: Regional Paths of Destruction and Regeneration in the Late 20th Century.  New York: Columbia University Press.


Co-PI. National Science Foundation, Coupled Natural and Human Systems (2013-2018). “Tropical Reforestation Network: Building a Socio-ecological Understanding of Tropical Reforestation” ($440,000).

U.S. Partner. National Science Foundation - United States Agency for International Development PEER (Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research) (2012-2014). “REDD based forest expansion, food consumption, and reduced emissions agricultural policies (REAP) in the Ecuadorian Amazon” ($144,496).

PI. National Science Foundation, Coupled Natural and Human Systems, Biocomplexity and the Environment Program (2010-2015). “Spontaneous Silvopastoral Landscapes: Origins, Extent, and Ecological Significance in the Ecuadorian Amazon” ($566,081).

Honors and Awards

Excellence in Research Award, Rural Sociological Society, 2013.

Excellence in Research Award, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, 2010.

Merit Award, Natural Resources Research Group, Rural Sociological Society, 2009.

Rachael Shwom Professor Shwom studies how different groups of people in society make sense of and seek to address energy and environmental problems. She understands these dynamics as not just technological or economic processes, but inherently social and political processes. She is particularly focused on the role of civil society, such as environmental groups and the public, in these social and political dynamics. Her research is based on the idea that while much research in social science is focused on the unit of a single individual or organization, the majority of behaviors or decisions that affect the environment are made by, or at least influenced by, groups of people and organizations. To understand the role of these social interactions her work has applied innovative methods such as inter-organizational network analysis and experimental survey methods that use on-line discussions among survey respondents. These methods are powerful tools for identifying and understanding the functions of relationships among organizations or individuals, and they have enabled her to investigate basic theories about the interactions of organizations and about the environmental attitudes and behavior of individuals. Her work is a necessary complement to technical research on new energy and environmental solutions because it provides insights on how society can reorganize for a more sustainable and resilient environmental future.    

Selected Publications

Shwom, R. 2014. “Organizational Subgroups and Changing Practices: Non-profit-Business Partnering in the Energy Efficiency Field.” Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.

Cusack, D., Axsen, J., Shwom, R., Hartzell-Nichols, L., White, S., Mackey, K. R. M. 2014. “Review: An Interdisciplinary Assessment of Climate Engineering Strategies.” Frontiers in Ecology and Environment 12:5:280-287.

Shwom, R. and Lorenzen, J. A. 2012.  “Changing household consumption to address climate change: social scientific insights and challenges.” WIREs Clim Change 3: 379–395.


PI. McIntire-Stennis USDA-NIFA (2014-2015 with funding pending for 2016-2018). “A Regional Comparison of the U.S. Public’s Views on Forests and Climate Change” ($18,720).

Co-PI, with Cara Cuite and co-investigators William Hallman, Karen O’Neill, Steve Decker, Chris Obropta, and David Robinson. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/New Jersey Sea Grant (2014-2015). “Best Practices in Coastal Storm Risk Communication” ($149,806)

Co-PI, with Rebecca Jordan. National Socio Environment Synthesis Center: Education Theme Integrating Learning across the Social and Natural Sciences (2013-2015). “A Socio-Ecological Framework for Understanding Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation” ($66,000)

Sub-contractor, with PI Clint Andrews. U.S. Department of Energy (2011-2012).  “Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings: Subtask - Interaction of Human Behavior and Building Performance” ($36, 000).

Co-investigator, with PIs Joan Ehrenfeld and Karen O’Neill. National Science Foundation ULTRA-Ex Grant (2009-2014).  “Connectivity Along Urban rivers: A Keystone Process for Urban Ecosystems” ($290,000).

Co-PI, with Tom Dietz. National Science Foundation (2007-2011).  “Between State and Profit: An Analysis of Changes in Nonprofit Interorganizational Networks and Tactics in the Energy Efficiency Field 1973-2006” ($175,000).


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Department of Sociology
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