Urban, Community and the Environment

View of townhouses with colorful murals.

Sociology faculty and students working in the Urban, Community and Environment field use different theories and methods to understand a wide variety of social, political and economic issues arising from the interactions of people and place. Research in this field addresses how the physical environment (neighborhoods, inner cities, suburbs, metropolitan areas and regions, as well as water, air and other species) influences and affects social behavior (such as residential patterns, health outcomes and concentrated poverty). In addition, faculty in this field investigate complex issues associated with urban growth and decline, migration and demographic changes, environmental sustainability and smart growth.

Sub-fields

Urban Growth and Decline

The uneven development of cities, suburbs and metropolitan areas has produced opportunities and constraints for their residents, in terms of education, health, safety, wealth and poverty, and employment. Researchers in this area examine the political, economic, cultural and social factors that drive growth and decline of neighborhoods, cities and regions, such as racial and class segregation and diversity, and urban policies and flows of capital that foster disinvestment and gentrification.

Faculty

People, Place and Power

Faculty in this area study social interactions between places and people. The social organization of communities, neighborhoods and other places shapes the lifestyles and experiences of residents, visitors and other users. The social, cultural, economic and political attributes of place have the power to influence a wide range of health, educational, poverty and environmental outcomes for social groups. In turn, the social composition (demography) and changes (immigration, displacement) of populations shape and transform the physical environment and the identity of place.

Faculty

Environment, Sustainability and Social Justice

Faculty in this area investigate relationships between societies and their environment. These may include, for example, the social drivers of climate change, humans’ relationships with other species, or the sociological causes and consequences of the uneven distribution of environmental costs (exposure to toxins, pollution) and benefits (parks, leisure spaces). Faculty also study how social movements, new technologies, and political alliances seek to ensure more sustainable cities and regions, enhanced justice, and better living conditions for those disproportionally affected by environmental problems.

Faculty

Faculty

Robert Adelman.

430 Park Hall

Phone: (716) 645-8478

adelman4@buffalo.edu

Department Chair
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology
College of Arts and Sciences

Research Interests: Racial and Economic Residential Segregation; Immigration; Internal Migration; Occupational, Industrial and Earnings Inequality

Jordan Fox Besek.

430 Park Hall

Phone: (716) 645-2417

jfbesek@buffalo.edu

Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology
College of Arts and Sciences

Research Interests: Environmental Sociology; Historical Sociology; Social Theory; Philosophy, History, and Sociology of Science; Law and Society; Animal Studies

Christopher Mele.

430 Park Hall

Phone: (716) 645-2417

cmele@buffalo.edu

Professor
Department of Sociology
College of Arts and Sciences

Research Interests: Urban Sociology; Sociology of Race and Ethnicity; Urban Governance; Community Studies

Gregory Sharp.

430 Park Hall

Phone: (716) 645-8479

gsharp@buffalo.edu

Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology
College of Arts and Sciences

Research Interests: Urban and Community Sociology; Social Stratification; Population Health; Quantitative Methods

Kevin T. Smiley.

407 Park Hall

Phone: (716) 645-2417

ktsmiley@buffalo.edu

Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology
College of Arts and Sciences

Research Interests: Environmental Sociology; Urban Sociology; Race and Ethnicity; Community