Stephanie Sodero – Feature Profile

We introduce you to:

Stephanie Sodero, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Sociology, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Visit Stephanie’s personal website at http://stephaniesodero.weebly.com.

Stephanie SoderoHow did you become interested in environmental sociology?

I started volunteering for a fabulous Nova-Scotia based environmental organization, the Ecology Action Centre, in high school. I went on to pursue environmental studies at Trent University (B.A. 1999) and at Dalhousie University (MES 2001). I was fortunate to work for the Ecology Action Centre for five years, during which my colleagues and I initiated a range of transport projects, including the development of a comprehensive Green Mobility Strategy, the creation of university and employer transit pass programs, and the establishment of a community infrastructure fund.

My formal introduction to environmental sociology occurred as a Masters student at the University of Oxford (MSc 2010). I was intrigued by how carbon taxation in British Columbia evolved from academic theory to political priority to practical reality. Through this research, I was exposed to Latour’s work on actor networks and to Foucault’s work on governmentality and biopower. Energized by this experience, I wanted to take my studies further. I am pleased to be studying at Memorial University, under the supervision of environmental sociologist Dr. Mark Stoddart.

What are your research interests?

Climate governance, mobility, community planning and social/ecological resilience are amongst my research interests. The ‘history’ of innovative policy development and the interaction of stakeholders in policy development processes are areas of particular interest.

What research are you currently working on?

Stephanie SoderoIn recent years, record-breaking hurricanes made landfall in Newfoundland (Igor 2010) and Nova Scotia (Juan 2003). In recognition of the hurricanes’ severity, the names ‘Juan’ and ‘Igor’ were retired by the World Meteorological Organization. Specific to mobility, road, marine, air, and rail networks experienced severe damage, disrupting numerous systems, including emergency services, commercial operations, and personal transport. These impacts brought daily life to a standstill. Taken-for-granted practices became concerted efforts, and the human relationship with the surrounding environment was disrupted. In some cases, alternate transport mobility networks (i.e. helicopters, off-road vehicles, boats, and simply people carrying other people) emerged, while in other cases immobility emerged as the best or only option. In my doctoral research, I explore both short-term coping mechanisms and longer-term policy implications of these two hurricanes in terms of mobility. Specifically, I ask: How do disruptions to transport mobility networks caused by hurricanes highlight areas of social-ecological resilience and vulnerability?

What are some of your more interesting findings that you would like to share with us?

My research on the development of British Columbia’s carbon tax highlights the power that majority governments yield in terms of starting and stalling policy development processes, as well as the shifting composition of leaders and stakeholders involved in the policy development processes.

Other research highlights include: public education and policy discussions in the 1990s created a foundation for a policy process in the 2000s; modeling the carbon tax on an existing gas tax model accelerated the policy process and eased administration; implementation timing risks coinciding with gas price spikes; and expending effort on public communication, in addition to tax design, may facilitate public acceptance.

What is your favourite place in Canada to spend time?

Swimming and canoeing in Nova Scotia – heaven!

Recent Publication

Sodero, S. 2011. Policy in motion: Reassembling carbon pricing policy development in the personal transport sector in British Columbia. Journal of Transport Geography 19: 1474-1481.

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