Environment and Social Development

Global environmental changes—such as pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, and freshwater decline—affect people worldwide, with impacts that are not just physical, but also social and economic.

Consequences range from minor inconvenience to injury and death, and can include food and water insecurity, mental distress, family separation, income disruption, and asset depletion. A social justice issue, environmental change has consequences that are typically worse for some groups than others.

We examine social vulnerability and strategies for social action and adaptation to environmental change. We emphasize social action that leads to reductions in negative environmental problems and adaptation through formal programs and policies designed to reduce vulnerability to environmental change. Through this work, we aim to contribute to a more environmentally sustainable world, in which all people have fair and optimal opportunities to live full, healthy and productive lives.

Listen to or view transcript of an explanation by Dr. Lisa Reyes Mason (inSocialWork podcast episode 262, University of Buffalo)

Principal Investigators

Michael Sherraden

CSD Founding Director,
George Warren Brown Distinguished University Professor

​Lisa Reyes Mason

CSD Faculty Director; University of Tennessee - Knoxville
Environment and Social Development


Lissa Johnson

CSD Director of Administration,
Director of Policy Initiatives with Grand Challenges for Social Work