STS Faculty Profile: Kyle Knight

STS Faculty Profile

Kyle Knight is Department Head and Professor of Sociology.

What’s your area of expertise? What do you primarily research and/or teach? And what drew you to this field?

I’m an environmental sociologist. I primarily research the human dimensions of environmental change, which includes the social causes, consequences, and responses to environmental problems. Besides introductory, statistics, and methods courses in sociology, I’ve also taught courses on environmental sociology, environmental justice, and society and climate change. My research has lately focused on social patterns in climate change public opinion. For example, my most recent publication examined how outdoor recreation, such as hiking and birdwatching, might foster greater concern for climate change. My initial interest in sociology was motivated by questioning the centrality of materialism and consumerism in our society, and that blossomed into a drive to understand how we might achieve a more sustainable and equitable future.

Photo by Josh Willink on

What’s one of your favorite courses, topics, or specific texts to teach? Why?

One book I’ve used in my classes for a while now is Andrew Szasz’s Shopping Our Way to Safety, which I think provides an excellent illustration of how treating systemic social problems as individual-level issues to be solved by consumers not only doesn’t solve these problems but actually makes them worse. One of the biggest challenges in teaching environmental sociology is to get across the point that environmental problems are, at their root, social problems, and this book usually does the trick.

What’s something you’ve done that you’re really proud of?

While working on my Ph.D. at Washington State University, I co-authored and published an article with a fellow sociology graduate student and we received a departmental award for it. It was at this moment that I began to feel like a real scholar, and I continue to be proud of the work we did on our own to make it happen.

Tell us about a book you’ve read recently, a movie you’ve seen recently, or another work of art or media you’ve engaged with recently that you really enjoyed and would like to recommend.

I am a big music nerd and love all kinds of genres and traditions. I listen to music all day long, especially while working in my office, and enjoy reading album reviews. My musical tastes run the gamut – some of my favorite musical artists lately are Jake Xerxes Fussell, Yasmin Williams, Madlib, Cassandra Jenkins, Ben Chasny, Julian Lage, and Protomartyr. Right now, I’m fascinated by Marina Herlop’s new album titled Pripyat, which is named after the Ukrainian city abandoned in the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Herlop is a classical pianist and experimental producer from Barcelona, and this album creates a wordless, other-worldly soundscape that is just completely captivating. My favorite track is “Shaolin Mantis” but the choir version of “Miu” is a close runner-up.

Tell us something about yourself outside of work. What do you enjoy doing? What’s a detail about you that Mines students might not already know?

I’m pretty boring and just enjoy spending time with my family outside of work. We especially like to hike, camp, and ride bicycles. We’re very excited to get to know the Black Hills and to eventually ride the Mickelson Trail when it’s not so hot!

White text on black background says Hello (right side up, on top) and Goodbye (upside down, below).

Changes in the STS Program: Saying Hello and Saying Goodbye

STS Faculty

As the 2021-2022 academic year ends, we are looking forward to welcoming new members to the STS program in the fall, but we are also saying goodbye to a faculty member who will be greatly missed.

Happy Welcomes

After the retirement last year of our previous department head, Allison Gilmore, and the capable leadership of Frank Van Nuys this spring, we will begin the 2022-2023 year with a new department head: Kyle Knight. He comes to us from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, where he was Associate Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of Sociology. He has an emphasis in environmental sociology, which will add new expertise to the STS program’s environment & sustainability track.

We also welcome two new assistant professors: Gerrit Scheepers as Assistant Professor of Music and Paul Showler as Assistant Professor of Philosophy!

We are excited to get to know and work with all of them. Look for more about and/or from each of them in the future!

Kyle Knight (left), Gerrit Scheepers (center), and Paul Showler (right)

And a Sad Goodbye

Even as we look forward to new people joining us, we are very sad to say goodbye to Laura Kremmel (Assistant Professor of English & Humanities), who has accepted a position at Brandeis University. She has been a wonderful colleague and friend for the years she has been here, and little we could write in this short space would adequately express our sadness that she is leaving. Nonetheless, we all wish her well and hope that her colleagues at Brandeis appreciate her!

Woman smiling at the camera on the left, skull and crossbones carving on the right.
Laura Kremmel and a friendly skull.