Social Ecology in the Digital Age | Daniel Stokols

TITLE / Social Ecology in the Digitial Age: Solving Complex Problems in a Globalized World

AUTHOR / Daniel Stokols

PUBLISHER / Elsevier Science Publishing Co.


NO. OF PAGES / 406 


These days, the news can be hard to stomach: racial tensions, poverty, pollution and global warming. War. At times it seems like there are so many problems in the world that we do not even know where to begin looking for solutions.

Enter Dan Stokol's new book, Social Ecology in the Digital Age.

Dan Stokols is a Research Professor and Chancellor's Professor Emeritus in the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine. He's worked in the fields of social ecology, environmental and ecological psychology, public health, and transdisciplinary team science. And in Social Ecology in the Digitial Age, Stokols offers up social ecology as a method of identifying, explaining, and facing the challenges of the 21st century head-on.

Broadly defined, social ecology is the study of environmental contexts and how these contexts affect the behavior and well-being of the populations which inhabit those environments. Here's one example: how does the neighborhood in which someone lives affect his behavior? Does it affect what kind of education or work he can get? Does his environment make him more prone to poverty or violence?

According to Stokols, the goal of social ecology is to resolve complex societal problems through ecological analysis, interdisciplinary scholarship, and community problem-solving. It can be used to not only identify and predict the potential health, behavioral, social, and sustainability outcomes of a certain environment but also to modify that environment to lessen the potential for things like mental and physical illness, poverty, unequal access to educational and economic resources, and interpersonal violence. In other words, the study of social ecology may be precisely what we need in order to develop more comprehensive solutions to the many problems we face today.

I think this book and its subject will appeal to readers from many fields, urban planning, public policy, public health, and sustainability, to name a few. If you are a student interested in a multi-disciplinary approach to solving the world's many problems, I anticipate you will find Social Ecology an insightful and engaging introduction to the field.

But if, like me, you are a less scientifically-minded reader, never fear.

For the most part, Social Ecology reads like an introductory textbook. It's got italicized words and phrases to indicate importance and each chapter is broken down into clear explanations of the basic concepts of social ecology. And yet it is still accessible, primarily because Stokols anchors the book in his own journey within the field. He illustrates concepts not only with experiments and case studies but also with personal anecdotes. In these moments the tone becomes more conversational, allowing the reader a quick breather before Stokols dives back into a discussion of the core principles of human environments or the dimensions of contextual representations.

This isn't just any old textbook. Rather, Social Ecology feels strikingly relevant, offering up a good introduction to the theory as well as clear examples of how the theory can actually be applied to real-life situations.

In sum, what Stokols delivers in Social Ecology is four decades worth of scholarly experience, distilled into a single, hopeful message: there is a way to handle the global challenges of the 21st century. Whether you are a student, scholar, or simply a curious reader, I think you'll leave Social Ecology with a new understanding of the ways we interact with our environments and how, in turn, our environments influence the way we interact with each other.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not paid to review or feature this book and this review is my 100% honest opinion. This is not a sponsored post.


Bout of Books 21 Wrap Up

I'm really enjoying my new, more relaxed reading approach this year. Not only am I officially ahead of schedule on my Goodreads reading goal (for once), but my first read of the year earned five stars!

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works / Dan Harris

Currently Reading
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban / Malala Yousafzai
Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-To Book / Dan Harris and Jeff Warren with Carly Adler


My Favorite Reads of 2017

I'll be the first to admit that I was surprised how many books I enjoyed in 2017. It wasn't the best reading year I've ever had (I probably watched more TV than ever before in a desperate attempt to escape reality), but looking bad a lot of what I did read left a lasting impression. Without further ado, allow me to introduce my favorite reads of the year!

Favorite Books
The Buddha in the Attic / Julie Otsuka
> the review
Born a Crime / Trevor Noah
> the review
Wives and Daughters / Elizabeth Gaskell
Days Without End / Sebastian Barry
> the review

Honorable Mentions
The Reluctant Fundamentalist / Mohsin Hamid
> the review
Where the Past Begins / Amy Tan
> the review
The Nakano Thrift Shop / Hiromi Kawakami
> the review


2018 Reading Goals & Blogging Confusion

Why, hello there. Long time no blog post!

As you can probably tell, I let blogging fall by the wayside a bit as 2017 continued. And if I'm really honest with you guys, I'm at a little bit of a loss of what to do with this blog.

On one hand, I love blogging. I started my first blog way back in 2010 to chronicle my college experience and have always found it to be almost therapeutic, a bit like keeping a journal that other people can read. When it comes to this blog, I've really enjoyed sharing discussions and reviews here as sometimes it's just easier to share thoughts in written form.

On the other hand, I've been struggling with the "one-sidedness" of blogging for a while now. I've never gotten much interaction here on the blog, which I know is partly my fault. I don't promote it nearly as much as I do my YouTube channel and I'm sure the fact that I'm still using Blogger and not a more popular and social site like Wordpress doesn't help. I've toyed with the idea of making a new website that can serve as a catch-all for my videos and blog posts but find myself incredibly intimidated by the very thought.

Another thing I really struggle with is reserving ideas for blog posts. About 99% of the time, if I come up with an idea I think is actually worth sharing, I automatically start planning a video on the topic. Once upon a time, I would have worked my thoughts into a blog post, but that is no longer my preferred mode of expression. I love the free-form nature of filming, the way I can just word vomit at my camera and edit into something cohesive and interesting later.

Over the past year especially, I feel like I've really come into my own in my videos. At the same time, I feel like I've been stuck as a blogger for a long time now.

In short, I'm a little unsure of how I plan to proceed with this blog.

For the time being, it'll be business as usual, meaning I'll continue sharing my videos and written reviews. However, I'm going to have to do some serious thinking about where I'd like to see this blog go in the future. If you have any thoughts or opinions you'd like to share on the subject, I'd greatly appreciate the help in sorting out my options.

Thanks and Happy New Years!


A #Victober Wrap Up

As a longtime reader, it's always hard to admit that you picked out books that you didn't end up enjoying. Unfortunately, that was the story of my October!

Books Read:
The Professor / Charlotte Brontë
Great Expectations / Charles Dickens
Where the Past Begins: A Writer's Memoir / Amy Tan
> Read the review

Currently Reading: