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SBU Sociology professors see greater focus on environmental issues during pandemic

Jun 30, 2020

Not all of the news emerging from the coronavirus pandemic is bleak, according to two faculty members of the Department of Sociology and Criminology at St. Bonaventure University.

“Recent news has hinted at something of a shift, a move in a direction that just might lead to lives — and a world — that may be heading in a new and positive direction. All of these accounts have a common element: the environment,” Assistant Professor Kathy Zawicki and Associate Professor Benjamin Gross wrote in a paper posted June 30 by the Jandoli Institute.

The paper, “Status Quo or Silver Lining? Environmental Changes in a Pandemic,” is the second post in the Jandoli Institute’s Media Studies Across Disciplines project, a collection of research essays connecting different academic disciplines with the field of communication.

In the article, Zawicki and Gross explain that news reports, studies and polls show that the public’s commitment to the environment has increased during the pandemic and could lead to more awareness of the environment, a greater inclination to follow environmental news, and ultimately more of a tendency to act to protect the environment.

“If any or all of these positive outcomes could come to pass, it would mean that the most unlikely of outcomes had become reality: in the midst of a global pandemic, the finding of a silver lining,” they wrote.

The institute will post a new Media Studies Across Disciplines essay on its website every Tuesday through Aug. 11.

The essays were authored by St. Bonaventure faculty members who used their knowledge and expertise to provide insight and analysis from their own individual perspectives. Faculty from biology, history, nursing, philosophy and sociology contributed to the project, which was funded by the Leo E. Keenan Jr. Faculty Development Endowment and the Jandoli School of Communication. The essays were selected through a blind peer-review process.

The Jandoli Institute serves as a forum for academic research, creative ideas and discussion on the intersection between media and democracy. The institute, accessible at, is part of the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University.