For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Exposing the Social Roots of Our Environmental Problems

February 9, 2015

From energy policy to honeybee health, climate change to disaster preparedness, Drexel social scientists are bringing important new perspectives to the nation’s greatest environmental challenges.  

By Tim Hyland


Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is one of the most troubling and confounding problems facing the American agricultural industry today.

Since 2006, beekeepers from coast to coast have been reporting sudden and unexplained losses in their hives, with formerly healthy colonies losing as much as 90 percent of their bees over the course of a season. Often left behind when CCD strikes is a lonely queen, a few immature bees, but no adult worker bees at all.

This perplexing disease at first glance may seem to be only a problem for American farmers, but in reality, it’s a massive economic issue as well. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, bee pollination is responsible for more than $15 billion in crop value each year. Saving the bees, then, is of paramount importance to wide swaths of this country, and scientists have been working for nearly a decade to find the elusive cure.

Drexel’s Chloe Silverman, PhD, is among them. But unlike her colleagues in biology or ecology or entomology, she is approaching the problem of CCD from a very different perspective — and asking very different questions.

Silverman, a sociologist and historian of science in Drexel’s Center for Science, Technology and Society, is in the midst of a new research project that looks not for the single root cause of CCD, or for clues to a cure, but rather at the ways stakeholders are defining the problem — its scope, its impact, its severity — and what they conceive the ultimate “solution” might look like. By bringing these diverse approaches to light, Silverman hopes to improve our understanding of CCD as a multidimensional issue, far more complex than some media members — and even some scientists — might admit.

Read more about Chloe Silverman, Gwen Ottinger and their colleagues at »