David A. Sonnenfeld, Ph.D.
Dept. of Environmental Studies
State University of New York
College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Thank you for your interest in graduate studies at ESF and in my work. Typically, I anticipate taking on one or two new grad students at the beginning of each academic year. If you might be interested in joining my research group, please read the following. After giving it some thought, if you remain interested I'd welcome an inquiry via e-mail. Advance inquiries are most timely through about mid-November, for the following academic year.
Trained as a comparative sociologist, my research program is described in detail on the research pages of my website. At the core of my research interests are processes, contexts and challenges of institutional environmental transformation and governance, especially in newly/ rapidly industrializing nations, under conditions of accelerated globalization, and at times of systemic uncertainty (see my recent publications). While much of my work has been in relation to East Asia, I am interested in comparative European studies, and Africa and Latin America, as well. Doctoral students currently under my supervision are working on topics related to environmental policy and governance in China, South Korea, Iran, and the Caribbean, respectively; masters students on both domestic and international topics. (For a listing of graduate students now under my guidance, scroll down my official webpage.)
I am especially interested in working with graduate students with strong academic training in the social sciences and/ or policy studies; significant life experience (i.e. some time well-spent, out of school); and a clear sense of direction. Graduate students working under my supervision can expect active engagement and encouragement to define and develop a research topic, establish solid theoretical & methodological foundations, obtain external funding, publish and present research findings to scholarly and professional audiences, and achieve all-around excellence in scholarship, teaching (as applicable), and public and professional service. I am interested in some domestic topics, as well as international ones. Interdisciplinary and policy-oriented topics are welcome. Strong writing and organizational skills, and prior experience in social research or policy analysis are a plus.
I work with doctoral students at ESF through the interdepartmental Graduate Program in Environmental Science (GPES), primarily in the Environmental and Natural Resources Policy (ENRP) area of study. The ENRP doctoral program integrates studies in the social and biophysical sciences, and policy analysis; students develop advanced, scholarly competencies in all three areas, plus research methods. Doctoral research projects in this program include biophysical, social science, and policy components. I am also affiliated with the Environmental and Community Land Planning (ECLP) area study within GPES; the Environmental Policy Group, in the Department of Social Sciences, at Wageningen University, the Netherlands; and the Department of Sociology, in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, at Syracuse University. Together, ESF and nearby "sister" institutions (Syracuse University, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Cornell University) have terrific resources to support interdisciplinary environmental social science and policy research. Students who do best in the ENRP doctoral program tend to have a strong backgrounds in both social science and the biophysical sciences/ engineering. Graduates go on to tenure-track academic and advanced professional practice positions. I have served as external examiner or committee member for doctoral students at other institutions, both internationally and in the US, as well.
At the master's level, I work primarily with students in ESF's Environmental Studies (EST) master's degree programs. EST master's students take a series of required core courses; other classes from across ESF; and, as needed, at Syracuse University. Master of Science (MS) students complete a formal, research-based thesis during their second academic year. As prerequisites for admission, EST master's programs require successful completion of upper-division courses in: i) environmental policy or communication, ii) general ecology, and iii) environmental science, respectively. Completion of these courses (plus statistics, for MS students) prior to admission is recommended. Graduates from the MS in Environmental Studies program go on to advanced, doctoral studies in environmental studies, human geography and other environmental social science fields; and to research- and policy-oriented professional practice positions. The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) non-thesis degree is designed as a terminal, professional degree. Both Environmental Studies master's degree programs may be used as platforms for ESF's Peace Corps Master's International Program. I work with master's students also through the Environmental and Community Land Planning area study in ESF's Graduate Program in Environmental Science.
Each year, ESF offers a few Graduate Assistantships (primarily in the form of teaching assistantships) for new, incoming graduate students. These awards are highly competitive. For further information and application procedures, click here. As these awards are made by department and programs, applications to multiple units may be advised. For optimal admissions and support consideration, it is important that all documentation (letters of recommendation, GRE scores, transcripts, etc.) be received well in advance of the January application deadline; this means getting started in early December or before. For outstanding prospective graduate applicants with a clear research direction, I am open to exploration of external grant and fellowship opportunities.
If you you think you might be interested in carrying out your graduate studies as part of my group at ESF, please send a note to me at <dsonn (at) esf.edu>. Describe your academic and occupational background, research interests and professional aims, and explain why you think it would be beneficial for you to enroll in one of the programs mentioned above (or one of ESF's other graduate programs) under my supervision. Attach your résumé / curriculum vitae. If feasible, a visit to ESF's campus in Syracuse, New York, is highly recommended. I look forward to hearing from you!
David Sonnenfeld's Home Page
last updated October 22, 2014