Alissa Cordner

Alissa CordnerAlissa Cordner, Assistant Professor of Sociology
B.A. Bowdoin College, 2004; M.A. Brown University 2010; Ph.D. Brown University 2013

Areas of Interest: 

  • Environmental Sociology
  • Environmental and Social Justice
  • Sociology of Risk
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Science and Knowledge
  • Urban Sociology
  • Civic engagement and participation
  • Medical Sociology Social Movements


Alissa Cordner joined the Whitman faculty in 2013. At Whitman, she teaches courses in Sociology and Environmental Studies, including Social Problems, Environmental Sociology, and Environmental Health.

Alissa received her Ph.D. in sociology from Brown University in 2013. Her research focuses on environmental sociology, the sociology of risk, environmental health and ethics, and public engagement in science and policy making. Her dissertation, "Risk, Power and Policy in Environmental Health Controversies: The Case of Flame Retardant Chemicals," examined the sociological aspects of risk assessment in industry, regulation, research, and activism, and was supported by a three-year EPA STAR fellowship. She is currently transforming her dissertation into a book manuscript. 

Alissa has published articles in Health Affairs, Social Movement Studies, Environmental Science & Technology, Teaching Sociology, and Social Science & Medicine. Her recent publication with collaborator Dr. Phil Brown in Sociological Forum examines the ethical implications of scientific uncertainty in emerging research areas. She has also worked with an interdisciplinary research team at Brown University and New York University on a multi-sited collective ethnography in Providence, RI. The team has written a book, The Civic Imagination: Making a Difference in American Political Life, which will be published in 2013 by Paradigm Publishers, and an article on the disavowal of the political that is forthcoming in the American Journal of Sociology

Alissa grew up in Oregon's Willamette Valley. She attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME, and majored in Sociology and French. After graduating, she spent a year teaching English and history courses at a university in France, worked as an environmental organizer in Oregon, and led youth wilderness programs in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. She is thrilled to be back in the Northwest after five years at Brown University.  

Alissa Cordner's Curriculum Vitae