Thomas Dietz

Thomas  Dietz
  • University Distinguished Professor
  • Department of Sociology
  • PhD, University of California, Davis, 1979
  • Bachelor of General Studies, Kent State University, 1972
  • 6J Berkey Hall
  • 509 E. Circle Drive
  • East Lansing, MI 48823
  • 517-353-8763


Thomas Dietz


Thomas Dietz is a human ecologist and environmental sociologist. His research focuses on the drivers of environmental change and human well being, on the social psychology of environmental decision making and on the interplay between science and values in decision making.  He was founding director of the Environmental Science and Policy Program at MSU, and remains active there, in the Animal Studies Program and at the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability. Dietz has served as chair of the US National Research Council Committee on Human Dimensions of Global Change and as Vice-Chair of the Committee on Advancing the Science of Climate Change. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has been awarded the Sustainability Science Award from the Ecological Society of America, and has won research awards from the American Sociological Association sections on Environment and on Animals and Society. In 2017 he delivered the Mitchell Lecture on Sustainability at the University of Maine. Also in 2017 he was named University Distinguished Professor at MSU. He is an Affiliate of the Gund Institute of Environment at the University of Vermont.


Integrating measures of human well-being and of anthropogenic environmental stress into models of sustainability, including examination of the influences on effective societal decision making.

Theories of decision making that better integrate altruism and other values with roles and with perceived social distance.

Integration of work on consumption in ways useful for policy guidance.


Dietz, Thomas, Ran Duan, Jakob Nalley and Anthony Van Witsen. 2018. "Social Support for Water Quality: The Influence of Values and Symbolic Racism." Human Ecology Review24(1):51-70.

Dietz, Thomas and Cameron T Whitley. 2018. "Inequality, Decisions, and Altruism." Sociology of Development4(3):282-303.

Gunderson, Ryan and Thomas Dietz. 2018. "Deliberation and Catastrophic Risks." Pp. 768-89 in Oxford Handbook of Deliberative Democracy, edited by A. Bächtiger, J. Mansbridge, M. E. Warren and J. Dryzek. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dietz, Thomas. 2017. "Drivers of Environmental Stress in the Twenty-First Century." Annual Review of Environment and Resources42:189-213.

Dietz, Thomas. 2017. "Science, Values, and Conflict in the National Parks." Pp. 247-74 in Science, Conservation, and National Parks, edited by S. R. Beissinger, D. B. Ackerly, H. Doremus and G. E. Machlis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Stern, Paul C., Benjamin K. Sovacool and Thomas Dietz. 2016. "Towards a Science of Climate and Energy Choices." Nature Climate Change6(6):547-55. doi: 10.1038/nclimate3027.

Dietz, Thomas, Kenneth A Frank, Cameron Whitley, Jennifer Kelly and Rachel Kelly. 2015. "Political Influences on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Us States." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences112(27):8254-59. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1417806112.

Dietz, Thomas and Richard York. 2015. "Animals, Capital and Sustainability." Human Ecology Review22(1):35-53.

Dietz, Thomas. 2015. "Prolegomenon a Structural Human Ecology of Human Well-Being." Sociology of Development1(1):123-48.



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