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College of Arts and Sciences Sociology

Dr. Universe: Why do people litter?

Dr. UniverseThere is a lot of litter on our planet, but it hasn’t always been that way. For most of human history, people made stuff out of things they found in nature. They might make tools out of rocks or sticks. These things break down and become part of the soil again.

It wasn’t until the invention of new materials, like plastic, that we started creating more litter. In fact, along with the rise of these new materials came the word “litterbug.”

That’s what I found out from my friend Erik Johnson. He’s a WSU sociologist who is really curious about culture, the ways people interact and live together, and » More …

Doctoral students pack years of research into three minutes

11 faces and 3MT logoFrom creating voice-responsive materials, to enabling regrowth of lost fingers and limbs, to reducing stress on caregivers of autistic children, to unearthing cultural history in Puget Sound, a wide range of high-impact research topics were expeditiously explained in the recent CAS Three Minute Thesis contest.

Eleven Pullman-based doctoral students competed for valuable fellowship prizes by presenting their years of dissertation work in three minutes or less, using just one visual slide, and in language anyone could understand. » More …

Single mom earning degree while raising her son

Ana BetancourtFor the average college student juggling school, classes and a job can be a difficult feat in itself. WSU Vancouver, however, is not a campus filled with traditional students. It is a commuter campus and sees everything from parents to long-distance commuters attending classes.

Ana Betancourt is a WSU Vancouver junior majoring in sociology and minoring in history. Off campus, her primary job is photography. On campus, » More …

Public support for environmental spending hinges on White House

Infographic showing public support for environmental spending Leveraging the power of data analytics, WSU sociologist Erik Johnson teased apart the opinions of more than 20,000 people over more than four decades and found support for environmental spending consistently plummeted during the administrations of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Democrats all.

Johnson made his discovery using a statistical analysis that looked at poll respondents in terms of their age, the time period in which they were surveyed and » More …

Hungry for health

Grocery bags.Sociologists and nutrition experts agree: food insecurity is a public health issue. Thinking of food banks and other programs as charity not only stigmatizes recipients but obfuscates the fact that we all pay, in the long run, for one another’s ill health. Whether it’s through increased healthcare costs or loss of economic productivity, not having enough to eat—or not enough nutrition-dense foods—is a cost we all share.

Read more in an excerpt from Washington State Magazine. » More …

AAAS Fellow honors for WSU faculty

Monica Johnson-KirkpatrickMonica Kirkpatrick Johnson, professor and chair of the Department of Sociology, is one of three WSU faculty named as Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The honor, bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers, recognizes Johnson for her “distinguished contributions to research on life course development focusing on how adolescents transitioning into adulthood is impacted by different social relationships and economic resources.”

She is a leading researcher in understanding well-being and achievement in adolescence and the transition to adulthood, serves on the editorial board for four » More …

Combining service and social sciences for success

Peter Nolan in uniform.Peter Nolan spent four years post-high school serving in the military police through the U.S. Army.

But as his enlisted contract came to a close, he decided to leave active duty to pursue college full-time because he knew an education would provide him with not only the background and know-how to succeed in a future job but  also greater career advancement options. » More …

McNair scholar bridges cultures in life, research

Lysandra PerezIt’s fall 2014. New freshman Lysandra Perez, the first in her family to attend college, sits on the bed in her Streit-Perham Hall dorm room. The emotional farewells are done, and her parents are driving back home to the small town of Moxee, near Yakima. Her roommates won’t be arriving for another few days.

She is all alone. “What do I do now?” she remembers thinking in a moment of panic.

Fortunately, the panic didn’t last long. “I had to remind myself that going to college » More …

Renewable energy offers common ground for Democrats, Republicans

Solor panel farm in the desertAs the battle lines are drawn for next month’s hotly contested midterm elections, some Americans may be comforted to know there is at least one area of common ground for Democrats and Republicans: regardless of political standing, age or gender, U.S. voters are in favor of renewable energy, according to research by Christine Horne, professor of sociology.

Horne and Emily Kennedy, a former WSU sociology professor now at the University of British Columbia, are the authors of a new study in the journal Environmental Politics that shows while conservatives and liberals tend to disagree » More …

Remembering sociology pioneer James Short

Professor in office, leaning on a chair.James F. Short Jr., professor emeritus of sociology and one of Washington State University’s longest-serving and most distinguished faculty members, passed away on May 13, 2018, at the age of 93.

Internationally respected for his expertise and understanding of group dynamics and sociological risk factors, his groundbreaking research into the conditions under which violence, delinquency, and crime occur helped to shape the field of modern sociology and enabled researchers to more fully explore how organizations of all kinds work together. He was among the pioneers in developing robust methodology » More …