Research Areas research areas


  • My research program focuses on understanding the social bases of environmental attitudes and beliefs, perceptions of science and scientists, and analyzing inter-organizational relationships among public and private sector actors engaged in environmental management. I have conducted applied sociological research and developed methods for integrating social, natural, and physical science data to support policy-making and natural resource management in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), and the USDA Rural Development Program. I was a principle investigator on the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded New England Sustainability Consortium Project that investigated how social and institutional factors affect scientific engagement in coastal management in New England. Currently, I am exploring how public perceptions of science and scientific practice affect policy debates such as those related to climate change, ocean and fisheries management, and global health pandemics (e.g. Zika virus). In addition to my work in the United States, I am collaborating with Brazilian colleagues to study the social dimensions of coastal environmental concerns in Brazil as well as investigating how international scientific collaboration influences approaches for resolving global health and environmental problems. Prior to coming to UNH, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the NOAA Coastal Services Center and NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center and a USAID Population and Environment Fellow working with Pathfinder International in Salvador, Brazil. More recently, I was a Fulbright Scholar at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Florianópolis, Brazil in 2014-2015
  • Publications

    Academic Article

    Year Title
    2020 Inter-organizational Ties, Community, And the Emergence of an Oyster Industry in New HampshireJournal of Rural and Community Development.  15:115-135. 2020
    2020 Questioning scientific practice: linking beliefs about scientists, science agencies, and climate changeEnvironmental Sociology.  6:194-206. 2020
    2019 Scientific engagement and the development of marine aquaculture in Santa Catarina, southern BrazilOcean and Coastal Management.  178:104840-104840. 2019
    2016 Flood Realities, Perceptions and the Depth of Divisions on Climate.Sociology.  50:913-933. 2016
    2016 At the Confluence of Data Streams: Mapping Paired Social and Biophysical Landscapes on the Puget Sound's EdgeCoastal Management Coastal Zone Management Journal.  44:427-440. 2016
    2015 Validity of county-level estimates of climate change beliefsNature Climate Change.  5:704-704. 2015
    2015 Environmental Views from the Coast: Public Concern about Local to Global Marine IssuesSociety and Natural Resources.  28:57-74. 2015
    2015 Tracking Public Beliefs About Anthropogenic Climate Change.PLoS ONE.  10:e0138208. 2015
    2014 Rural Environmental Concern: Effects of Position, Partisanship, and PlaceRural Sociology.  79:257-281. 2014
    2014 Charting a Future Course for Development: Natural Resources, Conservation, and Community Character in Coastal Alaska.Journal of Rural and Community Development.  9:22-41. 2014
    2014 Environmental awareness and public support for protecting and restoring Puget sound.Environmental Management.  53:757-768. 2014
    2013 The Role of Community Assessments, Place, and the Great Recession in the Migration Intentions of Rural AmericansRural Sociology.  78:371-398. 2013
    2012 Public perceptions of the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: personal experiences, information sources, and social context.Advances in Environmental Research Journal of Environmental Management Advances in Environmental Research.  113:31-39. 2012
    2012 In the Wake of the Spill: Environmental Views Along the Gulf CoastSocial Science Quarterly.  93:1053-1064. 2012
    2012 Demographic change and shifting views about marine resources and the coastal environment in Downeast MainePopulation and Environment Journal of Population.  33:284-303. 2012
    2011 Water water everywhere, but not enough for salmon? Organizing integrated water and fisheries management in Puget Sound.Advances in Environmental Research Journal of Environmental Management Advances in Environmental Research.  92:838-847. 2011
    2011 Planning Salmon Recovery: Applying Sociological Concepts to Spawn New Organizational InsightsSociety and Natural Resources.  24:751-766. 2011
    2010 The Political-Technical Divide and Collaborative Management in Brazil's Taquari BasinJournal of Environment and Development.  19:68-90. 2010
    2009 Stakeholder Collaboration and Organizational Innovation in the Planning of the Deschutes Estuary Feasibility StudyCoastal Management Coastal Zone Management Journal.  37:514-528. 2009
    2008 Adaptive governance and water conflict: New institutions for collaborative planningSociety and Natural Resources.  21:175-177. 2008
    “New Hampshire Oyster Farmers: An interorganizational community of practiceJournal of Rural and Community Development


    Year Title
    2017 The Zika Virus Threat: How Concerns about Scientists May Undermine Efforts to Combat the Pandemic 2017
    2012 Beliefs about Development vs. Environmental Tradeoffs in the Puget Sound Region 2012
    2012 Public Perceptions of Environmental Management in the Puget Sound Region 2012
    2012 Urban-Rural Differences in Concern about the Environment and Jobs in the Puget Sound Region. 2012
    Ideology Affects Trust in Science Agencies During a Pandemic
    Trusting scientists more than the government: New Hampshire perceptions of the pandemic
    Views of a fast-moving pandemic: A survey of Granite Staters’ responses to COVID-19


    Year Title
    2012 Organizational Complexity and Stakeholder Engagement in the Management of the Pantanal Wetland.  173-198. 2012

    Teaching Activities

  • Seminar Taught course 2020
  • Global Social Change Taught course 2019
  • Introductory Sociology Taught course 2019
  • Introductory Sociology Taught course 2019
  • Seminar Taught course 2019
  • Communities & the Environment Taught course 2018
  • Introductory Sociology Taught course 2018
  • Global Social Change Taught course 2018
  • Introductory Sociology Taught course 2018
  • Environmental Sociology Taught course 2017
  • Introductory Sociology Taught course 2017
  • Global Social Change Taught course 2017
  • Seminar Taught course 2017
  • Environmental Sociology Taught course 2016
  • Introductory Sociology Taught course 2016
  • Global Social Change Taught course 2016
  • Communities & the Environment Taught course 2015
  • Introductory Sociology Taught course 2015
  • Introductory Sociology Taught course 2014
  • Rsrch Exp/Sociology Taught course 2014
  • Education And Training

  • B.A. Political Science & Government, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • M.A. Latin American Studies, Stanford University
  • Ph.D. Development Sociology, Cornell University
  • Full Name

  • Thomas Safford
  • Mailing Address

  • University of New Hampshire

    Department of Sociology

    15 Academic Way

    Durham, NH  03824

    United States