3/23. Guest Lecture. “Sociology and Environmental Justice.” Prof. Diana Mincyte, Sociology.

This lecture is gated at Prof. Mincyte’s request. You can find the lecture by clicking here, or go to Blackboard, then navigate to: Content–Guest Lectures.

Please watch the video in its entirety, then make two posts below as comments on this post, or as a response to another student’s comments. These comments are due before the following class period (i.e. before 2:30pm on Tuesday, 3/25/21)

The first one is your own individual thoughts and response to the lecture. This post should be at least 75 words long. You should interact with main ideas, although what you say is up to you. You may want to criticize an idea, agree with something, or offer further insight or thoughts about some topic discussed by our guest. Or, you may want to pose a question for others about the lecture. I expect the post to interact with the content of the actual lecture, and not just the day’s topic or other thoughts you may be having.

The second post is an interactive comment, posted as a response to another student’s comment. There is no length requirement on this post.

49 thoughts on “3/23. Guest Lecture. “Sociology and Environmental Justice.” Prof. Diana Mincyte, Sociology.”

  1. This lecture was very informative in regard to the background information given on about how sociology was introduced as a science. The changes in social behavior based in the industrial revolution really helped me understand how and why sociology as a discipling became so important. Behaviors are always changing, and it is important to observe and gain knowledge on an empirical level to inform, argue and learn through the evolution of people.
    I appreciated this lecture because it reinforced information learned as a health science major. The insight highlighted about environmental injustice, inequalities in health, income, resources, social structures and life expectancy may help people that prejudge an individual’s disposition to be more open minded to factors that influence peoples’ lives. Overall, it was very interesting lecture that leave space for health discussion.

    1. I agree with you that this lecture gives us information about sociology and the history of it. It is a study on human behavior and interaction with others.

      1. I agree that this video was very informative, the breakdown made me understood sociology in ways I did not before, the professor seems to really know her stuff. the history of sociology was the most interesting to me because it covered many topics from the inception of sociology all the way to current affairs.

      2. Interesting video about introduction to sociology. I share Professor Diana’s idea that sociology is not only the science that studies society but also is a complete discipline that analyses what happens or has happened in our society. In my opinion, one of the most interesting and critical points she mentioned was about environmental justice which not only exists in New York but all over the United States. As she indicates, minority groups are the most vulnerable to suffer respiratory problems such as asthma as a result of the high pollution that exists in lower-income communities. I would like to add that, in addition to asthma, obesity is another chronic disease that often exists as a consequence of environmental injustice. Food deserts, for example, exist in low-income neighborhoods where healthy and nutritious foods are scarce/limited, and instead fast-food and high-calorie food options predominate. This lack of access to nutritious food lead many people in these neighborhoods to be at higher risk to develop obesity, diabetes type 2, and suffer from cardiovascular diseases.

        1. Interesting observation that you mentioned obesity has become one of the most common chronic disease in the low income neighborhoods. Contrary to our common sense that poverty linked to hunger, it seems that poor people in the United States are mostly over weighted. Bases on my personal experience and experience of people around me, I find that the major problem in our life is not keeping our family fed. Instead, it is the stress given by our society that keeps us from achieving happiness. The stress that we need to work hard, to have a big house and fancy cars, to make academic achievements and etc. According to my knowledge, a lot of my schoolmates are full time employees, full time students and some of us are even full time parents. It is such a crazy life style. However, the society keeps us convinced that if we hung on there, we will have a brighter tomorrow, which may come true one day.

        2. To add onto your point where food and deserts exist in low income neighborhoods and nutritious foods are scarce, now gentrification is happening to come of those low income neighborhoods. With gentrification, comes the high priced nutritious foods and high rent prices, which some folks might not even be able to afford and would force them to move. If the people were to move, there would still be other society standards that would follow. The cycle would repeat in terms of society standards.

        3. Hi Meilly!

          I agree. People with lower socioeconomic status are more likely to live in areas with low property values. They have less income and are often less educated, and its hard because being in that situation you don’t have adequate resources that can help improve your quality of life. This is why the Sociology discipline is so important because conducting research is the first step in finding a way to resolve the unjust that certain groups are facing.

        4. I totally agree with you. Environmental injustice is such a huge issue. The consequences are multilayered, and has never really been addressed.

    2. I’m glad to hear you found the lecture informative. As a health science major, you will likely encounter learn a lot about public health, a field that takes a sociological approach to medical/health issues.

    3. What is really interesting in sociology is the interactions you make with one another, people tend to have different characters depending on the person they’re talking to or the situation they’re in. But also about relationships about non-human nature as of spaces our surroundings also technology because these things are also part of our lives. Everyone has there own knowledge of the world by experiences, observations and also from what you chose to study/learn about. Industrialization played a big part from the history of sociology by helping introduce the factory base of the aconomy also urbanization which made more people to chose to move to the city’s to organize a different society. which brought about new ideas about democracy and political rights. which made people living in farms that chose to move to the city were able to make a better income and made farmers give up there jobs and become part of the city to earn a preferable income.

    4. I agree with one of our classmates about students coming from different country’s do tend to have more difficulty’s and much more pressure than others. As I was one of them it was difficult to fit in, I was able to speak a little of English however, that was not it. People tend to look at you different have different conversations with you and tend to have other conversation they would have with someone they tend to know or know he can articulate their words well.

  2. This video gave us information about sociology and how it was introduced and who created it. Sociology is basically the study of individual interaction with others and Enclosure movement in England was a set of legal regulation that overturned the traditional land uses. Sociologist focuses on groups and patterns not individual. They focus on interaction, and large economic, political and social forces. It gives you reason why you should study sociology like your spouse, when you will marry and so on. There is also a data showing about married vs not married people and are they happy. It also talks about Environmental Sociology would focus on social conflict approach.

  3. It is a very good introduction of sociology. It reminds me of how much I enjoyed my sociology class. Professor Diana Mincyte says she specializes in environmental sociology. It sounds a very interesting area to study. I hope I will have a chance to learn more about it in the future.
    We all think that as human beings, we are autonomous existence, and we possess the power of free will. We are not. After learning sociology, I learned that many things in our life, including our happiness level, our life span and our feelings are determined by social conditions like our age, gender, education, and even our race and skin color. According to the study in this video, old white women have the longest lifespan. So, if you are white and you are a female, lucky you.
    Due to the limitations of knowledge, we are all racists in some way. Every morning when I take the subway and I see an old and sick homeless guy, I would sympathize him and donate a dollar. When I see a young and healthy homeless person, I would judge him or her in my mind, criticizing him of being lazy and not working. In fact, I have no right to do so since I do not know either of them. Maybe the young homeless is a very good person and just happens to be in a very bad situation. Maybe the old homeless is a lazy and mean person, who has never worked his entire life. However, I do not know because I cannot read their minds. What I do is what most people would do. We see, and we judge.
    I feel that studying sociology helps us to understand how our feelings can be manipulated and influenced by the environment and culture we live in. You would understand different people’s behavior and feelings better as you learn more. It also helps us to control our own feelings as we know it is only a result of the situation that we are in.

    1. Thanks for the detailed response, Fengxia. Racism is a major issue, but you seem to be focusing more on age-based abilities/disabilities, which has a separate term, namely ageism. It refers to stereoptyping or discriminating against someone based on their age.

    2. Thank you for your perspective on the lecture. I agree with your opinion that sociology gives us insight on to why we act certain ways based on our environments, looking into the history of it as well helps us understand what has shaped society into certain ways as well. every individual can be linked to some sort of a group even unknowingly because we are all a reflection of the environment and others around us at times.

    3. Hey Fengxia! I agree with you in your statement about how we do not posses the power of free will. We have certain rights that allow us to have freedom but one of them is not to judge. Your day to day life scenario is very relatable and I too would even respond in such a manner. Hopefully we all can gain more knowledge and not let the world brainwash us into not seeing the other side of situations.

    4. Hi Fengxia!

      I love your point. Although nobody likes to admit that they are racist. I do believe that we all hold our own judgements towards others than are different than us. Partly due to how we are raise, but also environmental factors also plays a part. We judge because it is easier to judge then to understand the person, and I truly believe that when we judge others we are influences by factors in society. (especially the media)

  4. Sociology in short is the study of society as a whole through empirical studies. Prof. Diana Mincyte gives us a brief yet thorough explanation of the history of sociology and its development. She speaks of industrialization, urbanization and the new idea of the individual political rights. She illustrates how each of these major changes affected society. This then leads into many inhumane ways of living. It causes many environmental injustices that affects the individual’s development and health. The inequalities of life that then makes people decide based off of the economical structure. Which sums up the perspective of an environmental sociologist, were the social structure is what makes an individual decide on an action and that the “environmental health” cannot be separated from an individuals health.

  5. Sociology in short is the study of society as a whole through empirical studies. Prof. Diana Mincyte gives us a brief yet thorough explanation of the history of sociology and its development. She speaks of industrialization, urbanization and the new idea of the individual political rights. She illustrates how each of these major changes affected society. This then leads into many inhumane ways of living. It causes many environmental injustices that affects the individual’s development and health. The inequalities of life that then makes people decide based off of the economical structure. Which sums up the perspective of an environmental sociologist, were the social structure is what makes an individual decide on an action and that the “environmental health” cannot be separated from an individuals health.

  6. in the lecture video , professor spoke about sociology and the different sections . She talked about the history of sociology, environmental sociology (which she said was her area of interest) and environmental justice. she said that sociology is different from other discipline because it relies on empirical evidence( the senses) she told us where the term sociology call from and by who. In the history of three main changes contributed to the development of sociology these are industrialization , urbanization and new ideas about democracies and political rights. environmental sociology talks about social conflict approaches examples includes inequalities and environmental justice/injustice and finally environmental justice talks about the equal distribution of environmental harm and benefits.

  7. The lecture is very enlightening and connects to our courses. Professor Diana Mincyte pointed out that from the Sociology perspective, “individual decisions are shaped by the larger social-economic structures”, and I agree that social-economic factors will affect our decision-making, which could be applied to healthcare. When people making choices related to their health, personal economic status, and social supports will affect their decisions. Also, the professor mentioned that the individual decision could not be isolated autonomously from society, which means personal health depends on the people and environment around them. I believe that there are environmental factors that affect the way we behave, and it has impacts on our health. People’s eating habits, lifestyles, and living environment will influence their health conditions. Such as eating food high in salt will increase the risk of hypertension, and living in a place that has pollution will increase the risk of asthma. All in all, this lecture helped me understand the connection between sociology and public health.

    1. Hi Xue Lin, thank you for sharing your thoughts from the video. I agree with you when you mention that there are external factors that affect the way we act and these factors have an impact on our overall health. For example, the limited or scarce availability of green areas in low-income neighborhoods could put the physical and mental health of many people at risk. Having green areas contribute positively to our health because the quality of fresh and clean air increases as well as encourages residents to practice sport and therefore help reduce stress level.

    2. Xue, great points, just one minor comment. Sociologists are less concerned with individual diets than with various social and cultural forces that shape our food consumption. E.g., instead of looking at an individual’s decision to eat unhealthy food, they would focus on how accessible healthy foods are, i.e. if they can afford/have time shopping for vegetables, etc. This is because sociologists approach individual health issues through the lens of public health risks.

    3. Xue Lin makes a great point about the connection made between public health and sociology. I completely agree that there is a connection between both these subjects and their foundations. They have similar problems that involve the environmental health. They are affected on a daily bases and they make a great impact to our society without us really understanding what is happening in that moment. Prof Diana Mincyte explains the phenomenon really well and helps to truly puts the dots together to make us understand the big picture.

  8. While listening to this lecture I realized that I didn’t know a lot about sociology and environmental science. The guest speaker, Diana Mincyte, explains how sociology can determine how we are alike in many ways. She also states that sociology can help determine what is the right environment to have children grow up in. I agree with her statement about how sociology can help determine the right environment for a child. Diana Mincyte further explains the history of socialization. This history originates back to England. I found the history of sociology to be the most interesting aspect of this guest lecture because it leads to how changes in sociology change over time and how they affect today’s society. Overall, I enjoyed learning about how injustices in our society can affect a person’s health the most throughout this lecture.

    1. I agree with you Jayda about the history part. I found it interesting as well and it shows how sociology began. It is like a domino effect. For example, people leaving their homeland when fields were distributed. People migrated to other countries and started a new life there etc..

    2. Hi Jayda, I myself did not know a lot about sociology but this lecture did a good job of explaining things. I did find the history of sociology to be very interesting and the part about how your environment that you live in can basically have a negative or positive effect on you and your children’s life.

  9. What I understood from this lecture is that sociology relies on observational evidence. The historical fact she shared about sociology is the fact that people used to share their fields for crops but later it was divided which made many people move to the city because they didn’t have anything left. Happiness was explained by sociology by explaining how people who have a family (spouse and/or children) are happier than the ones that do not. The professor also explains life expectancy, and how white women are on the top of the list, as in they live the longest. Followed by black women, white males, and lastly black males. Sociology in environmental justice explains the inequality and discrimination made between people. Since not many countries. Immigrating is something that has been going on for many years because people seek better lives for themselves and their family/children. Even if they do make it in America, they’re not living the wealthiest life because there are many things immigrants struggle with. They usually end up living in poor neighborhoods where the pollution is bad which then leads to asthma.

    1. While I would agree that immigrants may struggle and live below the general average in terms of quality, they have generally made the jump from their homeland because conditions there were likely worse than their current living situation. It’s all relative. They may still struggle, however, there is the potential to have a much higher quality of life here vs back home, if they are able to navigate the new society the have moved to.

      1. Totally agree. Yes it is hard for immigrants to adjust to a new life sometimes, but it is a big jump and 9/10 they would tell you its a higher quality of living compared to where they originally came from.

  10. One thing I found interesting in the lecture was how the life expediencies were illustrated between sex and race but furthermore based on geography. I think it is important to look at information like this in both the micro and macro setting as the spread of population and access to quality healthcare can vary greatly on the state, city and even community that one lives in. Keeping an objective outlook, curbing your emotions and analyzing the data critically is what can make a big difference in how data is collected, organized, presented and received.

    1. Hello, Agnieszka. I agree with you that it is essential to analyzing information from different points of view and be objective. I believe that to be objective requires you to admit that the presence of your emotions or other factors may impact how you receive the information, and when reading the information, analyze it from different aspects before concluding your thoughts.

  11. This lecture was very informative. It was good to know the introduction of sociology and i felt like I learned a lot on the different areas of sociology. Professor Mincyte speaks on how the knowledge of sociology is based on information gathered by doing surveys, interviews and observation, this goes with what we learned in class about empirical views. There were a lot of interesting topics that were mention but I found the section about happiness to be most interesting. The statistics that showed the u bend that showed at 18 a person is the happiest but then it decreases down until a person hits 50 and then spikes back up and a person is their happiest at 80 makes me stop and think why would happiness decrease when a person is supposed to be in their prime. Another interesting topic was the one on suicide. It showed that men committed suicide more than women and that white man were the highest to commit suicide than any other race.

    1. Yes! The suicide rate of white men was alarming. I was unaware of that statistics. I wouldn’t have thought sociology and ethics had so much in common but this lecture shows that things deemed “Ethical” make up our view in society.

  12. This guest lecture video was very informative about sociology and different factors of it. Sociology is the study of human behavior, how different things may shape our lives differently. Society focuses mainly on the interactions of groups, patterns and the economic, political and social forces. Sociology relies on empirical evidence which can be used in surveys, interviews and observations. The development of sociology came to be by the changes that the European societies had made such as industrialization, urbanization and new ideas of democracy and political rights. She had described and showed us how those changes had effected society. Environmental justice and injustices can effect a person’s health because individual decisions are shaped by socioeconomic structures. I think that studying sociology can enable us to have a better understanding of how everything around us had influenced our behaviors. Our behaviors changes everyday depending on different situations, different demographic groups, influences and etc, and from that we can observe why, and to keep an open mind.

  13. Sociology is the study of Individual interaction with others between groups, institutions, agencies,etc.
    Sociology focus on patterns and trends overtime within the economy, politics and other social forces to understand what has happened and is currently happening within society. In relation to environmental sociology, we can further observe social conflicts such as inequalities and environmental justice. Differences in resource availability, health measures, life expectancy, even happiness displays how different ethnicities and genders play a role on economic structure as well as environmental health. All individual aspects can relate back to others around us and the environment, due to these situations an individual cannot be completely separated from societal circumstances. It is very interesting to see how both local communities and global communities all involve similarities and differences within every society. sociology really gives a lot of insight on what is really going on around us when we look at the bigger picture.

  14. I want to thank Professor Mincyte for taking the time to present to us such an Informal lecture!

    Professor Mincyte mentioned that “Living up to society is what defines to be a good mom.” To me this is such a powerful statement because it defines that people as an individual does not get to label what actions are consider good and what are consider bad. Society is what determines the “norms” or set of rules that we should follow in order to become accepted within a particular group. Sociology focuses on studies about how these rules come to be. It relies on empirical evidence based on survey, interviews, observation, ethnographic, etc. To understand the world, we must go out and test it. Because the sociology disciplinary is constantly conducting research toward the way people lives are affected, we can acknowledge the problems and act towards the issues that are causing certain groups unjust. This is very important in order to help improve people’s quality of life.

    1. Would you say that such research has to be done because of the norms determined by society? We may both have perspectives on what a good mom is or isn’t but it doesn’t mean that either of us are incorrect.

  15. I always looked at sociology as a science which studies humans within a society and how it develops. the presenter makes it clear that sociology isnt just a science but it is an empirical science which uses empirical evidence. the society we live in today is as a result of changes which happened over time as she gave the history of sociology through industrialization, urbanization and the fast raise of capitalisms and technological advances especially within society among European countries.

  16. Sociology, to me, has always been about the study of human interaction with a societal structure. Professor Mincyte brought up valid points about sociology encompassing the surrounding areas, structures, technologies, and even animals! She also talks about the empirical side of sociology, which I have always acknowledged because factual evidence gives a base for making reasonable and empirical claims. This helps when tied into my role as the physician in our case study project. I have never given much thought about the personal benefits behind sociology. Prof. Mincyte brings up a point about just how important and evident sociology is in our daily lives, such using sociology to guess which political party you might possibly vote for.

  17. This lecture was very informative. I liked the timeline that was given that showed how once there was communal property and ownership to communities because more about sole proprietorship. Proprietorship led to the industrial revolution,, which means mkre buildings and air pollution. This still effects the lives and health of people today. Especially in areas with high levels of air pollution. I found it very intriguing when happiness and marriage were compared to the happiness of those that may be single or without children. Society has given many standards to which people should live their lives. I was able to make a personal connection to her statement about the study that showed people saying they were buying healthy foods and actually buying junk. In society we praise people that eat healthy and organic to the point that independent individuals are compelled to lie about their daily lives. What I gathered from this lecture is the autonomy is based on society and what is deemed “good” by social standards.

  18. I agree with her take on structural forces around us and how it contributes to where you are in life and also how the people that are around us make an impact on some of the decisions that we make. She also spoke about happiness and the impact that it has on our lives based on the age group that we fall in at that time. She found that married people without children were happiest but unmarried people without children were unhappiest.
    I took from that, that people are happier when they have someone else to share that love with regardless of if it is a spouse or a child of their own.

  19. Thanks to this lecture it gave me a more detailed understanding about Scientology. It definitely intrigued me, way more than I expected and I hope to learn more about this subject in the future. This lecture taught me how people’s life, habits, and feelings are mostly affected by the social conditions they grew up in. Our race plays a big factor in our role in society today. As much as certain people try to rise above the discrimination and judgment against them they constantly receive hate and scrutiny for no apparent reason at all.

    1. Very true, race does play a big factor in our role in society today. The BLM and the Asian hate crime are currently the issues we still face in our society. Racial discrimination behaviors are not acceptable.

  20. The lecture was informative defining the understanding of sociology. Professor Mincyte mention about happiest period in a person’s life and she said there’s a pattern to happiness. The U-bend chart show us that the happiest age is 18-21 and 82-85. I agree with this chart because when your young, you don’t feel pressure from things like paying the rent or financially stable. Stress comes in after you start working and realizing that most of your time is build for the 9-5 schedule. You have less freedom and you start worrying about many other things which cause more stress. Professor Mincyte also mention that married people are happier than the other. It’s true because no one wants to be alone, having someone to love and care for is better than none.

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