About Brian’s Professional Work

Since Fall 2009 I have joined the faculty of Boston College as an Assistant Professor of Sociology and International Studies. I teach courses on environmental sociology, political sociology, environmental studies, sociology of science & technology, and a core course on society & environmental transformations.

In Spring 2009 I taught Human Use of the Environment for the Geography Department at the Pennsylvania State University.

From 2007-2008, I worked as a Lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, teaching Political Sociology, a Group Tutorial course, and International and Global Issues. For the three years prior, I taught courses as a Faculty Teaching Fellow, teaching World Society, Society & Nature, and International and Global Issues where I was responsible for all aspects of these topical courses, including syllabus and exam design, instruction, student advising, grading, and managing TAs .  Spring 2009, I will be teaching Human Use of  Environment for the Geography Department at The Pennsylvania State University.

My Teaching Assistant (TA) performance for Classical Social Theory, Contemporary Social Theory, and World Society earned me three department Outstanding Teaching Awards, two campus-wide Outstanding Teaching Award commendations, and my appointment as the head preparatory instructor for undergraduates taking the Comprehensive Exam in Sociology for the past four years. I was also nominated by students for the Academic Senate Excellence in Teaching Award for my instruction of World Society.

My intellectual work is driven by a desire to achieve social and environmental justice, and to teach students the intrinsic importance of globalization and global environmental governance to their daily lives. My academic training and research have focused on the linkages between globalization, science, and politics in global environmental governance. In my dissertation, “Dangerous Holes in Ozone Policy: The Roles of Neoliberal Discourse, Science, and Industry in the Montreal Protocol,” I analyze the first indication of failure in what many consider the most successful global environmental treaty. I use an interdisciplinary approach, drawing from environmental sociology, political economy, and human geography to examine how the stalled phase-out of ozone-depleting methyl bromide involves interconnections between geopolitics, agro-industry, and scientific knowledge.

A key question in my dissertation deals with neoliberalism and global environmental politics. Drawing from conceptualizations of neoliberalism originating in sociology and geography, I explore how powerful actors use neoliberal discourse to articulate protectionist positions in protocol deliberations. Additionally, I illustrate the links between global political and economic dominance and global environmental governance. My work shows that powerful nation-states and agro-industrial firms are able to “jump scale” to influence decision-making at the global scale. Drawing from interviews with ozone scientists, state delegates, NGO and industry representatives, and direct observation at international meetings, I argue that the stalled phase-out of methyl bromide is the consequence of US protectionism of its strawberry production complex. The dissertation also demonstrates how the methyl bromide controversy involves much more than just protectionism per se; it also involves the protection of the legitimacy of US scientific knowledge in the global arena (please refer to CV for publications).

My dissertation research has led to several awards, notably 1st Place in the Albert Szymanski-T.R. Young Student Paper Award competition, 1st Place in the SSSP Global Division/Critical Sociology Graduate Student Paper competition, the UC Chancellor’s Dissertation Fellowship, and a commendation in the ISA’s Worldwide Writing Competition for Junior Sociologists.

I also have contributed to cutting-edge work on rethinking society/nature relationships. My work has put current contributions into conversation with other forums, hoping to stimulate debate and further theoretical development (Rural Sociology, 2007; Rethinking Marxism, 2008; special issue: Capitalism Nature Socialism, 2005). My non-dissertation research focuses on society-nature relations from a political ecological perspective. Using the “extended case method,” I studied the history of development of protected areas in Honduras. This work contributed to understandings of the effects of commodification on livelihoods and the environment, and proposed alternative development models (Capitalism Nature Socialism, 2004). This research also provided empirical evidence of the effect that “natural” phenomena have on social relations and vice versa (Rethinking Marxism, 2008).

All Images and Content Copyright Brian J. Gareau 2009 All Rights Reserved
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