Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Environmental Sustainability

More than Economics: The Social Dimension of Climate Change

Loyola University Chicago’s third annual Climate Change Conference

Global Climate Change: Economic Challenges and Solutions
March 17–19, 2016

More than Economics: The Social Dimension of Climate Change

Sociological Perspectives on Climate Change:  Going Beyond Economics
Riley E. Dunlap, PhD, Oklahoma State University

While natural science has led the way in documenting anthropogenic climate change, it is clear that climate change is a “people problem”--it is caused by human actions, has negative impacts on humans (and other species) and collective action is needed to deal with it.  The result has been increasing recognition of the necessity of incorporating social science perspectives into research on climate change.  Thus far economics had dominated social science contributions, but increasingly other social and behavioral scientists are engaging in relevant work.  This presentation will focus on sociological research on climate change, drawing upon the work of the American Sociological Association’s Task Force on Sociology and Global Climate Change which was published in Climate Change and Society:  Sociological Perspectives (Oxford University Press, 2015).  It will highlight sociological contributions to understanding key aspects of climate change, noting how the questions raised and insights offered supplement or go beyond those of natural science and economics.

Riley E. Dunlap is Dresser Professor and Regents Professor of Sociology at Oklahoma State University, and one of the founders of the field of environmental sociology. His current work focuses on the socio-political dimensions of climate change, particularly political polarization and organized denial. Dunlap served as Chair of the American Sociological Association's Task Force on Sociology and Global Climate Change, and is senior editor of the resulting volume, Climate Change and Society: Sociological Perspectives (Oxford, 2015).  He is Past-President of the International Sociological Association's Research Committee on Environment and Society and Past-Chair of the American Sociological Association's Section on Environmental Sociology. Dunlap is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Psychological Association, and the winner of several awards for his scholarly work including the William R. Freudenburg Lifetime Achievement from the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences.


The Variegated Responses of Religious Communities to a Changing Climate
Randolph Haluza-DeLay, PhD, Associate Professor, The King's University
Randy Haluza-DeLay Presentation

In the midst of increasing awareness of global climate change, religiously-oriented people and institutions are responding to the issue, from denominational statements to interfaith cooperation, to outright denial, to the many reactions to Pope Francis’ recent encyclical. The varied responses show religion to be much more than simplifiable as an unvariegated variable. Approaches such as “lived religion” and practice theory can help us make sense of these complex responses. This talk draws on cross-national research I have been conducting on religious mobilization around climate change.

Randolph Haluza-DeLay, PhD, is a sociology professor at The King’s University in Edmonton, Alberta, and a father, birdwatcher, and cycle commuter. He has published over 40 academic journal articles and book chapters, and writes occasionally for magazines and newspapers. His work also includes two co-edited books: Speaking for Ourselves: Environmental Justice in Canada (University of British Columbia Press, 2009) and the recently released How the World’s Religions are Responding to Climate Change: Social Science Investigations (Routledge, 2014). As a citizen, he is active in local sustainability and anti-racism initiatives, and interfaith dialogue.