MSU Sociology professors Tom Dietz and Linda Kalof celebrated with a two-day workshop on Ecocultural Studies

October 14, 2022

In celebration of the careers and retirement of University Distinguished Professor Tom Dietz and MSU Sociology Professor Linda Kalof, MSU Sociology is presenting a two day workshop on Ecocultural Studies.

In 2003, Drs. Tom Dietz and Linda Kalof were hired at Michigan State University’s Sociology Department and initiated the Ecocultural Studies Research Group. The group brought together scholars that worked at the intersection of environment, animals and humans in the tradition of human ecology. The underlying idea is that an ecological system is constituted by humans, other animals, and the biophysical world all influencing each other. For example, it is now popularly accepted that humans have a significant influence on ecological systems - both its animal species and biophysical processes (Dietz et al., 2013).

Significant work emerged from this group on how animals and environmental factors influence human behaviors, such as recognizing the role of animals in history (Kalof, 2007; Pohl-Resl and Kalof, 2021), the role of underlying human values but also of social structural forces in shaping ecosystem change (Dietz et al. 2005), and how companion animals influence crucial decisions such as those to leave relationships where there is domestic violence (Barrett et al., 2018).

Both founding scholars are assuming emeritus status and the 20th anniversary of the community is upon us. This is a workshop discussing a set of papers that have been invited to submit for a special issues of Human Ecology Review. The topics include:

• Intersections of animals, environment, and humans
• Values and networks
• Advancing justice

Invited authors will present the ideas for their papers and commentators and attendees will provide feedback and discussion on these ideas and their connections to the larger research agenda of human ecology. This workshop is meant to be friendly and provide scholarly conversation. We think it will be especially useful for those interested in learning and exploring new connections between environment, humans and animals and we welcome undergraduate and graduates students from a variety of majors.

To learn more go to the Final Agenda Link here.
Pre-registration is not necessary, but to reserve your spot click here. Email Rachael Shwom at with any questions.