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Michigan State UniversityLyman Briggs College

People at LBC

Aaron M. McCright
Aaron M. McCright, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Department: HPS
Address: E-185 Holmes
Phone: (517) 432-8026
Email: mccright@msu.edu

Dr. McCright holds a joint appointment in Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Sociology. He also has an appointment in the Environmental Science and Policy Program.

For LBC, Dr. McCright has taught LB 133 (Introduction to History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Science), LB 334 (Science, Technology, and Public Policy), LB 335 (The Natural Environment: Perceptions and Practices), and LB 492 (Senior Seminar) in recent years. He has honed his teaching skills through a 2008-2009 Lilly Teaching Fellow, and he received the 2009 Teacher-Scholar Award and the 2009 Curricular Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Award at MSU.

Dr. McCright’s teaching philosophy derives directly from his middle-class, rural Iowa upbringing. As the son of a high school teacher and a registered nurse, he has developed a pragmatic, Midwestern view of education. To him, education is important for citizenship and work. Education is crucial for cultivating citizenship and promoting enlightened involvement in public decision-making. Dr. McCright wants to help create lifelong learners who can protect and promote their interests throughout their lives. Education is also crucial for successful participation in our increasingly global labor force. Dr. McCright wants to help create lifelong learners who can learn effectively each day at work. This teaching philosophy has directly informed his primary teaching goals.

Dr. McCright’s primary teaching goals are threefold. First, he wants to teach young adults to become lifelong learners. Second, he wants to help them improve their understanding of core HPS concepts, theories, and methods. Third, he wants to help them sharpen their critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and problem solving skills. He teaches all of his LBC courses in service to these goals.

All of Dr. McCright’s LBC courses have the following signature characteristics, which most effectively help him accomplish his primary teaching goals. Briefly, his courses:

*   are learner-centered; they focus on improving student learning gains and promoting a reflexivity among students about their learning;
*   utilize active learning; students DO something every day, such as inquiry-based learning;
*   demand that students work through ill-structured problems, ones that are controversial, ambiguous, and opaque in their definitions, causes, and solutions;
*   involve collaborative learning, whereby students work together to help each other learn;
*   employ authentic assessment, whereby students perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills; and
*   use performance-based assessment standards, which are non-zero-sum (i.e., if everyone significantly exceeds the evaluation criteria, then everyone will receive high grades).

Most of Dr. McCright’s research spans the fields of environmental sociology, political sociology/social movements, and sociology of science and technology. His intellectual agenda is to enhance our sociological understanding of how political, social, and scientific dynamics influence society’s capacity for recognizing and dealing with environmental degradation and technological risks. This has led him to investigate (a) the political dynamics and public understanding of climate change; (b) social movement identity and ideology for the environmental movement and beyond; (c) our sociological understanding of societal risk; (d) the influence of globalization forces on environmental management in formerly remote communities; and (e) the dynamics of scientific practices at tropical field stations.

Dr. McCright is most well known for his work to sociologically explain the political dynamics and public understanding of climate science and policy in the United States. Integrating theoretical insights from scholarship on power, social movements, media norms, and public opinion, his main contribution has been exploring how and why the American conservative movement and its allied climate change contrarians have effectively challenged climate science and policy in the United States for the last two decades. Recently, he extended this to theoretically explain political polarization on climate change in the American public. In total, his research increases our sociological understanding of the obstacles for dealing with climate change in the US and beyond.

Dr. McCright was named as a 2007 Kavli Frontiers Fellow in the National Academy of Sciences, in recognition of his climate change research. He has published one book and has authored several chapters in edited volumes. His work has also been published in such journals as Social Problems; Public Opinion Quarterly; Theory, Culture, and Society; Social Science Quarterly; Environmental Politics; The Sociological Quarterly; and Symbolic Interaction.



Honors
    2012 -Recipient of the Midwest Sociological Society’s The Sociological Quarterly Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Award
    2010 -Recipient of Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award from the Department of Sociology at Michigan State University
    2009 -Recipient of Curricular Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Award from Michigan State University
    2009 -Recipient of Honorary Faculty Certificate from the Lyman Briggs College Graduating Class of 2009 for dedication to the enrichment of the Briggs experience
    2008 -Recipient of Honorary Faculty Certificate from the Lyman Briggs College Graduating Class of 2008 for dedication to the enrichment of the Briggs experience,
    2008 -Lilly Teaching Fellow at Michigan State University
    2007 -Selected as a Kavli Frontiers Fellow in the National Academy of Sciences
    1990 -


Grants
    National Science Foundation. Division of Social and Economic Sciences, (Aaron M. McCright, Thomas M. Dietz. Larry Hembroff, Sandra Marquart-Pyatt, Maria Isabel Ayala, Jiaguo Qi, and Derek Moy), National Environmental and Climate Change Survey [2011 -2011] $49,870
    National Science Foundation, (McCright, Dietz), National Environment and Climate Change Survey [2011 -2012] $49,870
    Michigan State University Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, (Kendra Cheruvelil, Cori Fata-Hartley, Aaron M. McCright, Georgina Montgomery), Discovering Diversity, Creating Inclusion: An Inquiry into Diversity and Science [2010 -2010] $11,000
    Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives. Creating Inclusive Excellence Grant Program, (Kendra Cheruvelil, Cori Fata-Hartley, Aaron M. McCright, Georgina Montgomery), Discovering Diversity, Creating Inclusion: An Inquiry into Diversity and Science [2009 -2009] $14,409
    Royal Roads University Office of Research, (Phillip Vannini. Aaron M. McCright), Sensing Weather and Climate Change [2008 -2008] $3,000
    National Science Foundation, (PI: Daniel B. Kramer, Co-PIs: Andrea Allen, Aaron M. McCright, Jiaguo Qi, Gerald R. Urquhart), Globalization and the Connection of Remote Communities: Environmental Implications [2008 -2011] $1,057,123

Selected Publications
    2012 McCright, Aaron M. 2012. “Enhancing Students’ Scientific and Quantitative Literacies through a Sociological Inquiry-Based Learning Project on Climate Change.” Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 12(4):86-102.
    2012 Sweeder, Ryan D., Kathleen A. Jeffery, and Aaron M. McCright. 2012. “Lyman Briggs College: An Innovative Living-Learning Community for STEM Education.” Quality Approaches in Higher Education 3(2):7-14.
    2012 McCright, Aaron M., and Riley E. Dunlap. 2012. “Bringing Ideology In: The Conservative White Male Effect on Worry about Environmental Problems in the United States.” Journal of Risk Research DOI: 10.1080/13669877.2012.726242.
    2012 Xiao, Chenyang, and Aaron M. McCright. 2012. “A Test of the Biographical Availability Argument for Gender Differences in Environmental Behaviors.” Environment and Behavior DOI: 10.1177/0013916512453991.
    2012 Xiao, Chenyang, and Aaron M. McCright. 2012. “Explaining Gender Differences in Concern about Environmental Problems in the United States.” Society and Natural Resources 25:1067-1084.
    2011 (with Riley E. Dunlap; forthcoming) 'Organized Climate Change Denial.' In Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society, ed. David Schlosberg, John Dryzek, and Richard Norgaard. Cambridge: Oxford University Press.
    2011 McCright, Aaron M., and Riley E. Dunlap. 2011. “The Politicization of Climate Change and Polarization in the American Public’s Views of Global Warming, 2001-2010.” The Sociological Quarterly 52:155-194. (lead article in Symposium on the Politics of Climate Change)
    2011 'Political Orientation Moderates Americans' Beliefs and Concern about Climate Change.' Climatic Change 104(2): 243-253.
    2011 Marquart-Pyatt, Sandra, Rachael L. Shwom, Thomas Dietz, Riley E. Dunlap, Stan A. Kaplowitz, Aaron M. McCright, and Sammy Zahran. 2011. “Understanding Public Opinion on Climate Change: A Call for Research.” Environment 53(4):38-42.
    2011 McCright, Aaron M., and Riley E. Dunlap. 2011. “Cool Dudes: The Denial of Climate Change among Conservative White Males in the United States.” Global Environmental Change 21:1163-1172.
    2010 'The Effects of Gender on Climate Change Knowledge and Concern in the American Public.' Population and Environment 32:66-87.
    2010 (with Riley E. Dunlap) 'Anti-Reflexivity: The American Conservative Movement's Success in Undermining Climate Science and Policy.' Theory, Culture, and Society 27(2-3): 100-133.
    2010 (with Eugene A. Rosa and Ortwin Renn) 'Jurgen Habermas and Risk Society Theory: The Meeting of Passing Ships.' Quaderni di Teoria Sociale 10:55-82.
    2010 (with Riley E. Dunlap) 'Climate Change Denial: Sources, Actors, and Strategies.' In The Routledge International Handbook of Climate Change and Society, ed. Constance Lever-Tracy. New York: Routledge, 2010. 240-259.
    2010 (with Rachael L. Shwom) 'Newspaper and Television Coverage.' In Climate Change Science and Policy, ed. Stephen H. Schneider et al. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2010. 405-413.
    2009 'The Social Bases of Climate Change Knowledge, Concern, and Policy Support in the US General Public.' Hofstra Law Review 37(4): 1017-1047.
    2008 (with Riley E. Dunlap) 'A Widening Gap: Republican and Democratic Views on Climate Change.' Environment 50(5):26-35.
    2008 (with Riley E. Dunlap) 'Social Movement Identity: Validating a Measure of Identification with the Environmental Movement.' Social Science Quarterly 89(5): 1045-1065.
    2008 (with Riley E. Dunlap) 'Belief Systems and Social Movement Identity: An Examination of the Consistency of Beliefs about Environmental Problems within the American Public.' Public Opinion Quarterly 72(4): 651-676.
    2008 (with Riley E. Dunlap) 'The Nature and Social Bases of Progressive Social Movement Ideology: Examining Public Opinion toward Social Movements.' The Sociological Quarterly 49(4): 825-848.
    2007 (with Phillip Vannini) 'Technologies of the Sky: A Socio-Semiotic and Critical Analysis of Televised Weather Discourse.' Critical Discourse Studies 4:49-73.
    2007 (with Chenyang Xiao) 'Environmental Concern and Socio-Demographic Variables: A Study of Statistical Models.' Journal of Environmental Education 38(2):3-13.
    2007 'Dealing with Climate Change Contrarians.' In Creating a Climate for Change: Communicating Climate Change and Facilitating Social Change, ed. Susanne C. Moser and Lisa Dilling. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 200-212.
    2006 (with Terry N. Clark) 'The Intersection Between Community Sociology and Environmental Sociology.' In Community and Ecology: Dynamics of Place, Sustainability, and Politics, ed. Aaron M. McCright and Terry N. Clark. Amsterdam: Elsevier/JAI Press, 2006. 1-14.
    2006 (with Terry N. Clark) 'The Political Opportunity Structure of the Environmental Movement in U.S. Communities.' In Community and Ecology: Dynamics of Place, Sustainability, and Politics, ed. Aaron M. McCright and Terry N. Clark. Amsterdam: Elsevier/JAI Press, 2006. 199-240.
    2006 (with Terry N. Clark) 'The Shared Future of Environmental Sociology and Community Sociology.' In Community and Ecology: Dynamics of Place, Sustainability, and Politics, ed. Aaron M. McCright and Terry N. Clark. Amsterdam: Elsevier/JAI Press, 2006. 295-302.