I am an environmental sociologist of work and home. My research interrogates the relationship between the material flows of capitalism, the inherent risks of natural resource projects, and the often place-based nature of social life. Specifically, my research focuses on two groups of people: the working-class communities across rural and urban spaces who are directly impacted by natural resource extraction, processing, and/or transportation and the elites of capitalism who are directly shaping the nature of risks and hazards in the these natural resource communities.
I received my PhD in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and I am now an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
My scholarship is rooted in my early experiences growing up in a former coal mining village in Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Mountains. I experienced how past economic projects continued to impact the wellbeing of the region when the rivers ran orange from iron oxide mine waste. And I saw the frustration of neighbors who loved their rural hometown, but found it increasingly emptied of jobs, grocery stores, and habitable houses.
From this personal experience, I pursue a research agenda that links the stories people tell about their places and their people within broader patterns of environmental and economic change. My field work has taken me from homesteads in Swaziland, to kitchen tables in dairyland Wisconsin, to red-dirt roads post-war northern Uganda, and most recently, to urban and rural Rust Belt communities.
These communities are participants in their own knowledge creation. I design and disseminate research using methods and mediums that are transparent, accessible, and theoretically engaged. I pair academic publications from my research with podcasts, photography, and long-form essays to connect stakeholders’ experiences with broader patterns of historical, cultural, and spatial change. Review my publications and methodologies pages for more details on this public sociology.
As a teacher, I aim to illuminate structural patterns of injustice, giving voice to underrepresented communities, and encouraging students to pursue thoughtful strategies for social change and engagement. I design courses not only with substantive aims, but with skill-building in mind: I integrate question-asking, research, writing, and public speaking into each class. Review my past syllabi or teaching resources to learn more about my commitment to teaching.
Contact me at mcmillanlequieu (at) drexel (dot) edu