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Jan E. Dizard

Charles Hamilton Houston Professor in American Culture (sociology); Emeritus

Departmental affiliations: American Studies; Anthropology and Sociology; Environmental Studies

Professional and Biographical Information


Ph.D., University of Chicago (1967)
M.A., University of Chicago (1964)
B.A., University of Minnesota at Duluth (1962)
A.M. (honorary), Amherst College (1978)

Teaching Interests

My teaching interests have been linked to my research preoccupations, with some lag between the two. The transition has taken many years. It was hard to give up teaching courses in which I’d invested decades of research. It was equally hard to throw myself into teaching courses for which I sometimes could claim no more expertise than my students. My oldest son called this the challenge of vine swinging: it’s hard to let go of the vine you’ve got hold of and to trust the vine that you haven’t yet grasped to support you. Most of my teaching is now devoted to exploring the ways we affect the environment and the ways we think about how we affect the environment–from denial to radical misanthropy. I am working to get an environmental studies program established in Amherst’s curriculum. In addition to my interest in environmental studies, I am also going to be teaching a course in American Studies devoted to exploring violence in the United States. I also intend to regularly teach a course I call “Conflict and Conflict Resolution.” The most general way to characterize my teaching interests is to say that they have become ever more interdisciplinary. I remain centered in sociology but now more as a point of departure than as a destination.

Scholarly and Professional Activities

Adjunct Professor, Center for Animals and Public Policy, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University

Adjunct Professor, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

See also: Research Interests and Selected Publications