Ecocultural Studies Conference celebrates the legacies of Drs. Linda Kalof and Tom Dietz

November 30, 2022

In celebration of the careers and retirement of University Distinguished Professor Tom Dietz and MSU Sociology Professor Linda Kalof, MSU Sociology presented 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.

Significant work emerged from this group on how animals and environmental factors influence human behaviors, such as recognizing the role of animals in history, the role of underlying human values but also of social structural forces in shaping ecosystem change  and how companion animals influence crucial decisions such as those to leave relationships where there is domestic violence.

Both founding scholars are assuming emeritus status and the 20th anniversary of the community is upon us. This was 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

Photographs by Jackie Belden Hawthorne, College of Social Science: