Sociology students take ASA by storm!

We can be awfully proud of the UCF contingent participating in the refereed round tables of the Environment & Technology Section of the American Sociological Association’s annual meetings in Boston, August 1-4, 2008. The roundtable, entitled “Focus the Nation: Insights on the Climate Movement in American Universities,” began with a remembrance of Brent Marshall and his contribution to Focus the Nation at the University of Central Florida. The ASA roundtable was the outgrowth of a summer research and writing seminar that examined Focus the Nation as a social movement organization. Technically a set of independent studies during Summer Session A (six intense weeks of two nights/week), the goal was one co-authored manuscript under review in 2008, with others to follow. The tentative title of the manuscript is “Networks, social movements, and the role of universities in the climate movement: The sociology of Focus the Nation 2008.” Nnenia Campbell, Wendi Kane, and Josh Roosth (sociology MA students), Richard de Treville (undergraduate sociology major), and alumna Naty Paredes (psychology/sociology minor 2007) participated in the seminar. Within the collaboration, individual members took the lead on subsections of the paper. This division of labor resulted in the following names and titles as presented in Boston on August 2, 2008.

  • Nnenia Campbell, “Social movement theories: applications to Focus the Nation on Solutions to Climate Change 2008”
  • Wendi Kane, “Just another environmental movement organization? How Focus the Nation’s ‘national’ vision set the tone for bottom-up ‘local’ action”
  • Joshua Roosth, “Who was ‘in’ Focus the Nation 2008? The changing demographics of social commitments”
  • Richard Carter de Treville, “Significant events in the social evolution of Focus the Nation in Central Florida”
  • Natalia Paredes, “The Dynamics of University Student Social Capital in the Climate Movement: Reflections on Focus the Nation 2008.”

The students found generous support of the Department of Sociology, the Student Government Association, the Office of Undergraduate Research, and the College of Graduate Studies. As new members of the Environment & Technology Section, the students also participated in the section business meeting and in the reception, co-hosted by the Section on Race, Class and Gender. Incoming E&T Section Chair David Sonnenfeld (SUNY-Syracuse) invited the students to prepare an article for the section newsletter summarizing “how they made it to the ASAs” in order to help other sociology departments thinking about ways to involve students in the annual meetings.

From a graduate student perspective, Wendi Kane thanked the UCF for its support, as follows:

“Words cannot express my gratitude for this opportunity; which was AMAZING!!! I will speak for our group and say that we learned so much, met so many people, and were inspired beyond what we anticipated. This event energized us and gave us a glimpse of our future in this discipline. I am excited about the possibilities that await me and believe, even more now, that I can change the world”.

Undergraduate sociology major, Richard de Treville found the ASA meetings as an especially rich demonstration of social capital formation, having spent Summer Session A studying the social bases for “momentum” within campus-based social change organizations like FTN@UCF. De Treville’s interest is in segmenting individual production events over the two-year period of FTN 2008 to evaluate the combination of conditions (media coverage, speeches and presentations, the nature of linkages forged with other organizations, national and local political events, the on-campus opportunity structure, the off-campus opportunity structure, and scientific reports from the IPCC, etc.) that predicted “successful” momentum. ~Submitted by Penelope Canan