by Alissa Cordner

About Alissa Cordner

Alissa Cordner is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Whitman College. Her research focuses on environmental sociology, risks and disasters, environmental health and justice, and public engagement in science and policy making. Her book Toxic Safety: Flame Retardants, Chemical Controversies, and Environmental Health will be published in 2016.


Environmental health is increasingly a topic of international sociological research. Although the environment and human health are inextricably connected, the social and environmental contributors to population health, disease, and wellness are too often ignored in the social and medical sciences in favor of a more individualized focus on behaviors and illnesses. This represents a shift from previous modes of inquiry that emphasized environmental links to public health. As early as the nineteenth century, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels connected population health with harsh labor conditions, unfettered industrialization, and capitalist oppression. In the United States in the early twentieth century, urban public health practitioners and activists highlighted the health problems associated with urban environmental conditions and chemical exposure (Gottlieb 1993).