March 17, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Scanlan Presents on Food Security and Sustainable Societies at Annual Meeting

Dr. Stephen Scalan

Dr. Stephen Scanlan

Dr. Stephen Scanlan, Associate Professor of Sociology, presented “Food Security and Achieving Sustainable Societies through Female Empowerment” at the 2017 annual meeting of the North Central Sociological Association in Indianapolis in March.

Scanlan teaches classes that include Environmental Sociology, Poverty, Social Movements, and a capstone in Environmental Justice and Inequality. His areas of research and specialization include comparative social change, poverty and global inequality, and international development.

Food security has long been an important concern that, coupled with ecosystem vitality and environmental health, has great urgency. Achieving sustainable societies is also a challenging and important focus of our time. From the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development Rio Declaration (1992) to the more recent Sustainability Development Goals, sustainability has been the focus environmental well-being including climate change, epidemics, population pressure, resource scarcity, poverty and other inequalities. Scanlan examines the connections between food security and sustainability using a gender and development focus and contributions of female empowerment to bridge the two.

His research questions include: What is the relationship between gender equality and the achievement of sustainable societies? What contributions do empowered women make toward food security—a central component of human development with implications for environmental health and ecosystem vitality? In examining these questions, Scanlan seeks to inform current policy discussions on and applications to the creation of sustainable societies. The notion that “women hold up half the sky” has become increasingly important, and Scanlan extends this, noting that when it comes to food security the contributions are far more than their expected share—and the rewards much less than women deserve.

The theme of this year’s annual meeting is Peace in a Time of Polarization. Polarization means more than politicians behaving badly or strong disagreement. Instead David Lankenhorn, of the Institute for American Values, defines polarization as “an intense commitment to a candidate, culture or ideology” that divides people into rival groups. A 2014 Pew report found that Americans are experiencing more “affective polarization” – emotionally, charged negative feelings about those in the other political camp. These polarizing negative feelings have become so intense that they are changing were people choose to live and with who they choose to be in relations. And polarization thwarts empathy. Sociology and sociologists are uniquely qualified to look at both the impact of polarization and peace. During this year’s annual meeting researchers continue to explore the sociological connections between these ideas.

The North Central Sociological Association is a regional sociology association including: Eastern Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ontario, Canada. The objectives of the NCSA are to further the development of sociology as a scientific and scholarly discipline through stimulation and promotion of (1) scientific research in its defined subject matter area; (2) the widest possible and feasible utilization of the knowledge and skills of sociologists and the findings of scientific sociological research by public and private agencies in all relevant social policy issues; (3) effective teaching of the subject matter at all levels of educational endeavor; and (4) interchange and cooperative relations among persons and organizations engaged in the scientific study of society; any and all such other acts as may be deemed conductive to these ends.

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