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Sociology

Winter 2017

Going postal

While digital communication has made a lot of things easier—like video calling someone on the other side of the world—it has made collecting public opinion and behavior data more challenging.

Government agencies rely on that data from censuses, public opinion, and behavior surveys to make extensive policy and financial decisions that impact quality of life, such as healthcare measures that curb smoking.

Don Dillman, a Washington State University Regents Professor in sociology and internationally renowned survey methodologist, has dedicated his career to improving the design of surveys to collect that information.

When he started his career in the 1970s, he had to worry about … » More …

Winter 2016

When Jermiha marched home

Military homecoming is usually a time of immense joy and relief, but for many veterans the weeks that follow are daunting. Each month in Washington state alone, 1,000 service members transition from active duty to civilian life—moving from a structured, often traumatic environment into the looser routines of home. Along the way come unexpected challenges, especially when returning to college or entering the job market.

Jermiha White ’16 served eight and a half years as an Army cavalry scout on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. As a combat veteran, White began experiencing anxiety when he enrolled as a student at Washington State University … » More …

Just Mercy
Spring 2016

Just Mercy

Dozens of witnesses, including a police officer, saw Walter McMillian at a church fish fry when a young woman was killed in nearby Monroeville, Alabama in 1986.

Police later arrested the self-employed African-American tree trimmer anyway. A nearly all-white jury convicted him and a judge sent him to death row. That’s where Bryan Stevenson, a Harvard-educated lawyer, met McMillian.

Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, battled a hostile criminal justice system to uncover improperly concealed evidence that led to McMillian’s exoneration in 1993.

But the frightening way McMillian was so quickly condemned raises broader questions about America’s criminal justice system, which incarcerates more … » More …

Ed Hume, trash
Fall 2014

Talking trash

One of the green, rolling hills in the Palouse isn’t quite like the others.

Aside from a PVC pipe sticking out of its ridge, it looks—and smells—no different than any other mound. But instead of having a loamy center riddled with earthworms, it’s made of garbage. Tens of thousands of tons of it, though no one really knows how much.

The trash was collected throughout Whitman County over about 30 years until 1993, when the county sealed the landfill, built a transfer station next to it, and began shipping garbage elsewhere. Since then, four to six 18-wheelers leave the transfer station just north of Pullman … » More …

First Words
Fall 2014

First Words for Fall 2014

As we started assembling this issue, we sought to provide a sweeping view of campus and its environs from architecture to the archives. And then, as it usually happens, a few themes surfaced: anniversaries, hearts and health, and, well, garbage. We discovered subtle ties between the stories, ties that may not be so obvious to the reader, but as we have written, edited, and designed this issue, have lingered in our minds.

First, along with campus maps and Cougar cards, Washington State’s freshmen this month are sharing a book, Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash—a selection from the now eight-year-old and widely successful … » More …

Eugene Rosa. Photo Robert Hubner
Fall 2013

Eugene Rosa 1942–2013—Working for people and the planet

When you fill out a career pushing the limits of knowledge, rising to “pioneer in your field” status, things are bound to get pretty technical.

Gene Rosa, environmental sociologist, lived that reality, penning papers with terms like “biosociology,” “post-normal risk,” and acronym-rich analytical tools like STIRPAT. In spite of the technical thickets of his work, say friends and colleagues, Rosa kept his eye on the increasingly threatened natural environment and the people in it.

“Gene was not just interested in the environment for its own sake, but rather he had a deep desire to see a better world, one with greater quality of life and … » More …

No Room of Her Own
Winter 2012

No Room of Her Own: Women’s Stories of Homelessness, Life, Death, and Resistance

No Room of Her Own

Desiree Hellegers

Palgrave Macmillan

2011

“As a form of social punishment, homelessness is far sterner in many respects than sentences handed out in court for most criminal offenses,” writes Desiree Hellegers, an associate professor of English and founding co-director of the Center for Social and Environmental Justice at WSU Vancouver, in her introduction. In presenting the individual stories of 15 women in Seattle collected over two decades, Hellegers offers a view … » More …

Ethics of Climate change - warming globe
Winter 2012

The Ethics of Climate Change

In 2012 the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service, in conjunction with the School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs, began a new public symposia series that focuses on the ethical and public policy ramifications of new scientific innovations and knowledge. Each semester the symposia, which are open to the public, bring together WSU faculty with other internationally prominent scholars. The first in the series, “Ethics and Global Climate Change,” was held in April 2012, and brought to WSU’s campus Andrew Light, director of the Center for Global Ethics at George Mason University and a fellow at the Center for American … » More …