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Sociology and Anthropology

Sociology students head to NYC

Last month’s historic climate change march was the “perfect classroom” for studying philisophical, tactical differences among climate activists, according to the professor who accompanied them.

Lake Forest Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Todd Beer and three students headed to New York City in late September to survey attendees at what is widely considered the biggest climate change march in history.   

Cassandra Balzer ’16, Chelsea McDonald ’17, and Ben Labaschin ’16, along with students from NYU and Columbia helped Professor Beer collect survey responses from nearly 1,000 randomly chosen protest participants in the People’s Climate March, which took place in cities across the world. The march was held to draw the attention of 125 world leaders who gathered at the United Nations for a special climate summit called by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

With over 400,000 people in attendance, it is widely considered the largest climate change march in history and presented a good opportunity to study the differences among climate change activists, according to Beer. Moreover, “This is likely the only empirical data collected from march participants,” he said. 

“The survey questions explore opinions within the climate change movement in order to capture the subtleties among those that clearly agree that we should be paying more attention to what the scientific community has been saying about global warming for nearly 25 years,” said Beer.

By analyzing the more than 1,000 survey responses, Professor Beer hopes to answer questions about social movement overlap, the degree of radical opinions among participants, and support for specific claims of globe climate justice.

For more information about the project, contact Assistant Professor of Sociology Todd Beer