Visiting Professor Tammy Lewis
Department of Sociology
Interviewed by Honors Academy student Simone Herbin
Tammy Lewis is a sociologist with the bent of an environmentalist. As a student, she studied sociology, focusing on social movements and environmental sociology. She sees sociology and environmentalism as inextricably linked. "There are easy technical fixes to environmental problems, but the harder parts are the social and political changes. I see sociology as a way to address social changes that occur."
The Carol Zicklin Chair in the Honors Academy, Lewis has coordinated three Sustainability Series for the Honors Academy — Sustainability Films, Careers in Sustainability and Sustainability and Food. The book she recently co-wrote, Twenty Lessons in Environmental Sociology, is a collection of authors trying to communicate environmental sociology to students. "The best thing you can do with your research is to make it accessible to students. Environmental work in the field of sustainability is so relevant to the public."
Lewis was drawn to Brooklyn College for a variety of reasons, but at the top of the list was the opportunity to teach honors students. The experience has not disappointed. "There is so much active engagement in the classroom. I never get through all the points I want to make. I have never had engagement like this in a class before." And while she is learning a lot from her students, she gets the greatest satisfaction from knowing that her courses have impacted them. "The best thing that can happen is when a student writes to you and says how what you told them still colors how they see the world, when you can get students to try something they are not going to like and they end up not only doing it but loving it. I just had a student who said the class Transnational Social Movements changed the way she sees the world. It’s the small things over time. What I want is for students to take away is the skill to delve into a subject so they can continue learning after the class is over."