Collage of photos from the Department of Sociology at CSU

Together, we investigate and advocate

In the Department of Sociology, together we learn, investigate, discover, advocate, and solve. From food systems to food insecurity, cotton in Africa to water on the Western Slope of Colorado, students and faculty are engaged in understanding the structural, societal, and cultural issues that impact people.

Together, we advance the human experience.


Jessie Luna has worked with some of the richest and poorest people on the planet, and these experiences have helped her uncover staggering inequalities around health, labor, and economics. Luna’s work in West Africa helps give voice to Burkinabè cotton farmers and their families, and her research findings inform conversations about broader and world-wide use of GMOs.

Read more about GMO research in Burkina Faso from the Department of Sociology.

Aerial view of oil and gas fieldwork in Weld County, Colorado


Colorado State University has a long history of commitment to environmental initiatives and sustainability. With the creation of the Center for Environmental Justice in March 2020, CSU expanded their environmental expertise to include social justice. Environmental justice movements and scholars have examined issues of inequality ranging from water usage concerns to the infrastructure in the built environment. The Center engages with the CSU community by hosting symposiums and summits, organizing events, and teaching environmental justice courses. Stephanie Malin is one of the Center’s founders and a current steering committee member. Joshua Sbicca is also a member of the steering committee.

Read more about how liberal arts are a key voice in this new interdisciplinary research center.


Ph.D. student Kelsea MacIlroy has pioneered the study of social and cultural perceptions of water management along Colorado’s Western Slope. The Nature Conservancy funded her research and published her findings. MacIlroy has since has been interviewed by Time magazine, KRCC (Southern Colorado’s NPR station), Water Education Colorado’s Headwaters magazine, and Slate magazine.

Kelsea Macilroy
KuoRay Mao researching in China


KuoRay Mao creates partnerships among grassroots environmental NGOs in rural China, high-level policymakers, international funding sources, and CSU’s Office of Engagement to unite scientific research with local community knowledge to create effective solutions to social problems. “Not like most other researchers who are only external observers, Dr. Mao deeply participates in these community-based activities as an active practitioner, innovator, mover, advocator, and ambassador,” says Zhao Zhong, Chairman of the Board, Green Camel Bell NGO.


Joshua Sbicca promotes policies that focus on land, labor, urban and rural community development, health, self-determination and environmental sustainability. His research focuses on food systems and what he argues is the “dying industry of modern agriculture” – at risk not because of lack of production, but because of its contributions to problems like climate change and income inequality. Sbicca’s research asserts that two elements are essential to reconstructing rural America and dealing with climate change: agriculture based in principles of ecology, and economic policies that end overproduction of cheap food and reestablish fair prices for farmers.

Read more about why Sbicca believes U.S. agriculture needs a 21st-century New Deal.

Josh Sbicca
Sociology class running a food drive


The Department of Sociology at CSU has become one of the largest non-commercial donors to the Food Bank of Larimer County. After studying equality, poverty, stratification, and theory, students in Jason Downing’s General Sociology and Global Environmental Issues courses help organize a community food drive each semester. This service project demonstrates sociology in action. In 2021, the class was awarded the Exceptional Achievement in Service-Learning Student Award, which celebrates social or environmental contributions achieved through an academic service-learning course. Downing also received recognition for this project, winning the Exceptional Achievement in Service-Learning Instructional Innovation Award.


Sociology students broaden their horizons as they study abroad in the Czech Republic. With its recent political and economic history, Prague provides a fascinating opportunity for students to study issues of democratization, criminology & criminal justice alongside high-ranking Czech ministers and government officials. Sociology faculty lead this six-week summer program.

Learn more about the Criminology and Criminal Justice in Prague education abroad program.

Students participate in the Criminology and Criminal Justice in Prague program
Card activity where students responded to the prompt 'Direct actions you can take to be an ally'


Elena Windsong's sociology students think critically about the term "ally" as they respond to her prompts and consider how they can put their ideas into action. Windsong’s research and teaching address issues of community, place, intersectionality, race, and gender. She leads by example and was recently recognized by President McConnell for inclusive excellence.

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