The perturbation of greenhouse gases, the global nitrogen cycle, the growth of urban centers and loss of farm and wildlands, the exploitation of fisheries, the unfortunate link between pollution and poverty, and the change of global climate are but a subset of the environment/human interactions that are an active part of the news cycle. These are among the most pressing issues that will determine the future of human society this century.

These challenges require research ranging from a basic understanding of the causes and processes involved to the development of solutions or adaptations to the challenges. We study food security, disease management, and environmentally related well being associated policy and management issues. Topics include society's relationship with the environment, ethics, history, environmental justice, national/global environmental policies, access, trade, climate change, science communication, the  ethics and social ramifications of climate engineering, and others.

Examples of our work: 

  • Professor O’Rourke spearheaded the development of GoodGuide, a “for benefit” organization (with a great iPhone app) that allows consumers to make environmentally informed choices.

  • Cooperative Extension Specialist Christy Getz studies the effects of social certification initiatives on the living and working conditions of farm and food workers.

  • Alastair Iles works on the science, business, and policy of making the chemical industry more sustainable and fair. He is currently working on (1) biobased materials and their social and environmental effects; (2) the concept of materials sovereignty; and (3) socially robust learning for green chemistry. He is an associate director of the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry.

  • Professor David Winickoff helps lead the Science & Technology Studies program within the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society.

  • Cooperative Extension Specialist Jennifer Sowerwine studies the cultural and ethnic dimensions of food security among Hmong farmers in California.