Past Events

Monday, September 14th 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm, Zoom link: - email for password.
Kyle Thomas

Presentation available on YouTube:

Abstract: Several scholars have argued that rational choice theories offer an individual theory of action well-suited to link macro and micro determinants of behavior (e.g., Coleman, 1990). The argument is that selected structural characteristics influence individual behavior by affecting subjective expectations (i.e., perceptions) of potential outcomes resulting from an action, as well as individuals’ preferences (the weight that individuals place on those expectations when making behavioral choices). In this presentation, I discuss and empirically test a rational choice model that links objective and perceived structural characteristics at the macro level to the (dis)incentives thought to be considered in a potential offender’s choice calculus. I argue that characteristics associated with structural disadvantage are associated with information that “signals” to individuals that the risks and costs associated with arrest are low, while the potential rewards to crime are high. Further, I predict that those residing in areas characterized by structural, economic and educational disadvantage can shift individuals’ preferences associated with crime, leading individuals to be more tolerant of the risks and costs, and more responsive to the social and intrinsic rewards associated with offending. Using data from the Pathways to Desistance study, the results largely support the hypotheses: block group concentrated disadvantage is associated with lowered perceptions of arrest risk and informal social costs, but higher perceptions of anticipated social rewards. These effects, however, are almost entirely accounted for by individuals’ perceptions of neighborhood disorder and access to employment opportunities. The perceptual neighborhood measures are also associated with a greater tolerance for arrest risk and social costs, and a greater preference for the rewards associated with crime.

Bio: Kyle Thomas is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder. He received his Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland in 2015. His research focuses on offender decision making, the influence of peers on offending, and testing criminological theories.

Monday, May 4th 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm, IBS Meetiing Room 155
Julie Demuth

We are canceling the remaining IBS Speaker Series for the Spring 2020 semester due to ongoing issues related to COVID-19. We apologize for any inconvenience and will update you if we are able to reschedule this event. We appreciate your patience as we navigate this unprecedented situation. You may find regular updates about the campus response to coronavirus and ways to protect yourself at 

Bio: Julie Demuth is a research scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology (MMM) Lab with the Weather Risks and Decisions in Society (WRaDS) research group. She has been working for nearly 15 years on integrating social science research with the meteorological research and practitioner communities. With a hybrid background in atmospheric science and in communication, Julie conducts research on hazardous weather risk communication, risk perceptions, and responses; her work is with both experts, such as weather forecasters, and members of the public. Her work centers on understanding how forecast information, in conjunction with other factors, influence what people think and feel and how they respond. Some of Julie’s current work includes (1) studying how people’s previous weather experiences change the way they perceive future weather risks, (2) analyzing Twitter data to understand people’s evolving risk assessments as hurricane and tornado threats unfold in space and time, (3) exploring people’s perspectives on probabilistic tornado warnings, and (4) identifying NWS forecasters’ interpretations of and needs for deterministic and ensemble guidance from convection-allowing models. Prior to being at NCAR, Julie worked for three years in Washington DC as a Program Officer at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. Julie received her BS in meteorology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, her MS in atmospheric science from Colorado State University, and her PhD in public communication and technology from Colorado State University.

Light lunch served at 11:45.

Sponsored By: E&S

Monday, April 20th 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm, IBS Meeting Room 155
Rich Nielson (MIT)

We are canceling the remaining IBS Speaker Series for the Spring 2020 semester due to ongoing issues related to COVID-19. We apologize for any inconvenience and will update you if we are able to reschedule this event. We appreciate your patience as we navigate this unprecedented situation. You may find regular updates about the campus response to coronavirus and ways to protect yourself at

Abstract: Why do states promote conspiracy theories? Previous scholarship has largely focused on the demand for conspiracy theories in democratic settings, neglecting the role that conspiracy theories play in autocracies.  We ask two questions about the supply of conspiracy theories in society.  Are conspiracy theories prevalent because of local culture or is their supply influenced by political leaders and institutions?  And if leaders and institutions matter, are state-promoted conspiracy theories best understood as messaging about elite fears and priorities, or as distraction to deflect criticism away from the regime?  To answer these questions, we develop a model for detecting conspiracy theories in the Arabic-language text of Egyptian newspapers.  We compare the supply of conspiracy theories in a state-owned Egyptian newspaper, al-Ahram, to an independent Egyptian newspaper, al-Masry al-Youm, between 2005 and 2015.  We find evidence that institutions matter: the content and prevalence of conspiracy theories varies by newspaper and changes as state institutions change.

Bio: Richard Nielsen is an Associate Professor of Political Science at MIT. He completed his PhD (Government) and AM (Statistics) at Harvard University, and holds a BA from Brigham Young University. His book, Deadly Clerics (Cambridge University Press), uses statistical text analysis and fieldwork in Cairo mosques to understand the radicalization of jihadi clerics in the Arab world. Nielsen also writes on international law, the political economy of human rights, political violence, and political methodology. Some of this work is published or forthcoming in The American Journal of Political Science, International Studies Quarterly, Political Analysis, and Sociological Methods and Research. In 2017-2019 he is an Andrew Carnegie fellow, and his work has previously been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Light lunch served at 11:45.

Monday, April 6th 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm, IBS Meeting Room 155
George Robson

We are canceling the remaining IBS Speaker Series for the Spring 2020 semester due to ongoing issues related to COVID-19. We apologize for any inconvenience and will update you if we are able to reschedule this event. We appreciate your patience as we navigate this unprecedented situation. You may find regular updates about the campus response to coronavirus and ways to protect yourself at

Abstract: The first incidence of domestic terrorism in Michigan happned on a sunny May day in 1927 in Bath Township (located 12 miles north of Lansing).  38 elementary school-aged children and 6 adults were killed and 58 others were injured. Learn about the school board treasurer’s horrific crime against a community he believed had wronged him, and how the community coped with the aftermath of this destructive act. 

Bio: George Robson is the son of two of the students who survived the Bath Schoolhouse Disaster.  His mother was a sophomore and his father was the senior class president. George has researched the history of the incident extensively and will present a photographic remembrance and history of this event.

Light lunch served at 11:45.

Thursday, April 2nd 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm, Ketchum 1B40
Elizabeth Wrigley-Field

We are canceling the remaining IBS Speaker Series for the Spring 2020 semester due to ongoing issues related to COVID-19. We apologize for any inconvenience and will update you if we are able to reschedule this event. We appreciate your patience as we navigate this unprecedented situation. You may find regular updates about the campus response to coronavirus and ways to protect yourself at

Please note that this is part of the Department of Sociology's Spring 2020 Colloquium - and so it is happening on a Thursday (not a Monday) and is in Ketchum 1B40 (not IBS 155).  

Abstract: The first half of the 20th Century saw a dramatic transformation of mortality in the United States, as infectious disease went from ubiquitous and unpredictable and rare and controllable. This revolution in mortality may shape U.S. population health even today. Diverse evidence suggests that infectious exposures in the first year of life can have lasting consequences for individual health and development, as well as altering population composition through intense early mortality selection. The cohorts born in the first half of the twentieth century United States experienced rapidly and unevenly changing infectious exposures. How might that affect health, and inequality in health, today? This talk establishes some basic descriptive facts about what portion of each cohort experienced high levels of exposure, for different thresholds of “high,” at a low geographic scale. Results track the evolution of exposures over this period from uniformly high, to extremely mixed and variable, to uniformly low -- albeit only for whites. These patterns suggest new hypotheses about population health today, and may also ultimately be used to investigate what thresholds of exposure, within the range typically experienced by real cohorts, matter for subsequent health.

Bio: Elizabeth Wrigley-Field is an assistant professor in Sociology at the University of Minnesota, jointly appointed with the Minnesota Population Center. She works on problems that integrate social processes happening on multiple scales, from the micro (such as individuals' immunological development) to irreducibly macro population processes. Her work asks questions such as, how much inequality is hidden because we only measure the people who live long enough to be counted? and, how did cities, for the first time in human history, become the safest places to live beginning around 100 years ago?

Lunch provided.

Sponsored By: CU Population Center, Health and Society Program, CU Department of Sociology

Friday, March 13th 4:00 pm, IBS 155
Del Elliott

To be rescheduled at a later date. 

The Institute of Behavioral Science is pleased to host the second-ever Richard Jessor Distinguished Lecture on Health and Society featuring our very own Del Elliott, founding Director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. Lecture is 4-5pm with a reception to follow.  

Title: Evidence-Based Programs and Practices: Assessing the Evidence Supporting Each Approach to Improving the Effectiveness of Juvenile Justice System Interventions

Abstract: Over the last decade, critical commentary and debate have focused on the relative effectiveness of the individual program as compared to the generic practice strategy for identifying evidence-based interventions and their impact on the routine operation of the juvenile justice system (Embry & Biglan, 2008; Greenwood, 2018; Lipsey, 2018; Rehuher, Hiramatsu & Helm, 2008). At the center of the debate are a number of critical research and public policy questions: what criteria should be used to evaluate the relative effectiveness of these two approaches? How effective is each approach based on these criteria? What evidence is there that each can be implemented with fidelity and to scale? How usable by practitioners is each? Based on such assessment, should we be investing more heavily in one than the other? How might we improve the effectiveness of each? These questions are addressed and current estimates of the relative viability of each for directing juvenile justice system interventions are provided along with recommendations for improving the effectiveness of each.

Bio: Dr. Elliott is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Sociology, research professor in the Institute of Behavioral Science and founding director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. He directed a series of major longitudinal studies and published seven books on violence and delinquency. He was the senior science editor in 2001 of Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General and was presented the Public Health Service Medallion for Distinguished Service by David Satcher, MD, PhD, U.S. Surgeon General in 2001.

Monday, March 9th 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm, IBS 155
Mara Goldman (UCB, IBS)

Abstract: It is well known that access to, knowledge about, and management of environmental resources diverge across various social categories of difference (i.e. gender, class, cast, class,...). Yet gender is rarely acknowledged as a factor in wildlife conservation research and action, which is often conceived of as a masculinist scientific endeavor. So much so that there is little recognition of other ways of knowing and being with wildlife, the land, or what we have come to call nature, outside of standard scientific, protectionist protocols, even in ‘community-based approaches.’ As such, wildlife conservation efforts around the world often ignore, dismiss, and otherwise marginalize the knowledge and experiences of resident indigenous people, in particular women. The consequences are often dire for people and nature. In this talk I discuss the need to move beyond conservation and development interventions that rely on maintaining boundaries between nature and society, science and other ways of knowing. I begin in Tanzania, East Africa, presenting material from my forthcoming book, Narrating Nature: Wildlife Conservation and Maasai Ways of Knowing, where I use alternative narrative styles, including a traditional Maasai oral meeting, to counter the stories we are used to hearing about nature and expose ways of knowing, being with, and managing nature otherwise. I then present new material looking specifically at women’s stories regarding wildlife, land and ‘the environment’ along with a critique of the gendered nature of wildlife conservation more broadly. Drawing on work in Northern Tanzania and Southern India, I seek to understand how it is that women continued to be marginalized from conservation endeavors, and how gender, environment, and development continue to be decoupled in policy, activism, and even research.

Bio: Mara Goldman is an associate professor of Geography and a fellow in the Institute for Behavioral science at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she teaches environment-society, development, feminist, and African geographies. She is an affiliate of the Gender and Women’s Studies program and the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies. She co-edited Knowing Nature: Conversations at the Intersection of Political Ecology and Science Studies, published in 2011 by the University of Chicago Press. She has worked with Maasai pastoral communities in Tanzania and Kenya for over two decades on issues related to the politics of knowledge associated with wildlife conservation, rangeland development, and women’s empowerment. Her publications appear in Conservation, Development, and Geography journals and she has a book coming out in Fall 2020 from University of Arizona press, Critical Green Engagements Series, titled Narrating Nature: Wildlife Conservation and Maasai Ways of Knowing. In 2018 she received a Fulbright Fellowship to study the ways in which difference (gender, caste, class, ethnicity) play out in community-based conservation related research, teaching, and action With Ashoka Trust for Research on Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), in Bangalore India. She is currently working on a project comparing the gendered dynamics of wildlife conservation across India, Tanzania and Namibia.

Light lunch will be served beginning at 11:45am. 

Monday, March 2nd 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm, IBS Meeting Room 155
Rachel Kimbro

This occurrence of the IBS Speaker Series is a video feed from the University of Colorado Denver, comments/questions will be shared and answered via videoconference. Lunch will still be provided to all who attend.

Abstract: As climate change accelerates and intensifies extreme weather events, how will residents of low-lying communities adapt? For one affluent neighborhood in Houston, the answer is surprising. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey catastrophically flooded Bayou Oaks, and this was the third such flood in three years. Instead of fleeing for higher ground, Flooded reveals that most residents of this flood-prone area have no intention of leaving. Drawing upon 72 in-depth interviews with 36 mothers whose homes flooded, interviewed right after Harvey and again a year later, the book argues that their ties to Bayou Oaks are so powerful because it fits a series of precise criteria the mothers held for where to raise their families in this enormous, turbulent city, with the right kind of neighbors and public school being primary. As a result, mothers poured themselves into disaster preparation and recovery just as intensively as they parented their children, drawing upon the neighborhood’s flood capital and their own class-related efficiency, assisted by deep social and financial resources. The typically gendered labor of family life became more stark during the recovery year. For most of the mothers, this overwhelmingly gendered recovery labor felt like “another full-time job.” As the mothers’ mental load became unbearable, spousal conflict increased significantly, and the mothers’ mental and physical health deteriorated. As the guardians of their family’s upper-middle-class status in precarious economic times, the mothers were willing to battle Mother Nature to keep hold of the community they’d chosen so carefully, and to secure the future they wanted for their children. But at what cost?

Bio: Rachel Tolbert Kimbro (Ph.D., 2005, Princeton University) is a Professor of Sociology at Rice University and the Founding Director of the Kinder Institute's Urban Health Program. Dr. Kimbro earned her M.A. in Sociology at Princeton and her B.A. in Sociology and Policy Studies at Rice. Following her doctoral work at Princeton, Dr. Kimbro was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the University of Wisconsin, Madison where she received interdisciplinary training in population health. Dr. Kimbro's research focuses on racial and ethnic health disparities and family influences on health behaviors and outcomes. Current work examines family and neighborhood influences on child obesity, food insecurity, and physical activity in low-income and immigrant families. She is a Founding Faculty Member at Texas Children's Hospital's Center for Child Health Policy and Advocacy, a Baker Institute Scholar, and adjunct faculty at Baylor College of Medicine.

Light lunch served at 11:45.

Sponsored By: CU Population Center, CU Denver

Monday, February 24th 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm, IBS Meeting Room 155
Kiran Asher (University of Massachusetts)

Abstract: Feminisms and sustainability are ostensibly interrelated projects and hold out the promise of creative synergies. But while feminist and environmental justice struggles are explicitly political, sustainable development and institutionalized environmental conservation endeavors are often policy-driven, technical projects. This talk will trace the synergies and slippages—in ideas and intent—when these kinds of projects coincide or their proponents seek to work together.  I will draw on examples from my long-term fieldwork with Afro-Colombian social movements, and from my work with CIFOR, an organization dedicated to policy-relevant research on tropical forests.  The aim of the talk is to think collectively about the intellectual and political implications of these synergies and slippages.

Bio: Kiran Asher is a biologist-turned-social scientist with two decades of field-based research on wildlife conservation, international development, and struggles for social change in Latin America and South Asia. Her publications include a monograph, Black and Green: Afro-Colombians, Development, and Nature in the Pacific Lowlands (Duke University Press, 2009). She is currently working on a book entitled Fieldwork: Nature, Culture, and Gender in the Age of Climate Change, which foregrounds the complex and contradictory intertwining of natural-cultural worlds, and the challenges these pose for 21st-century struggles for environmental and social justice. The book also develops a theoretical and political critique of economic development and resistance by drawing on feminist and Marxist approaches in a postcolonial frame.

Light lunch served at 11:45.

Sponsored By: Program on International Development, CU Department of Geography

Monday, February 10th 12:00 pm - 1:00 am, IBS 155
Katie Genadek (RMRDC)

Abstract: The U.S. Census Bureau maintains a large longitudinal research infrastructure that currently includes linked data from the 1940 census, the 2000-2010 censuses, major national surveys going back to 1973, and administrative records dating from the 1990s. These data are accessible to researchers around the U.S. via the Federal Statistical Research Data Centers (FSRDC) network. The major shortcoming of this infrastructure is that it lacks linkable files from the decennial censuses of 1950 through 1990. Respondent names, needed to attach anonymous identifiers, for these censuses are available only via the original census returns, which are stored on 258,000 reels of microfilm. The Decennial Census Digitization and Linkage project (DCDL) is an initiative to recover names from the 1960-1990 censuses and to produce linked restricted anonymous microdata files for research. In this talk, I will describe the results of a pilot project we completed on the 1990 census including the accuracy of the handwriting recognition, and the accuracy of the record linkage with the recovered names. I will also describe the plan to carry out these processes on a production scale for the 1960 through 1990 censuses, and the resulting data files available for research. When combined with existing linkages between the censuses of 1940, 2000, 2010, the soon-to-be public 1950 census, and the future 2020 census, DCDL will provide the final component in a massive longitudinal data infrastructure that covers most of the U.S. population since 1940.

Bio: Katie R. Genadek is an Economist working for the U.S. Census Bureau and a Research Associate at the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. She currently directs the Census Longitudinal Infrastructure Project and works on historical data recovery and linkage. She is a labor economist, and her research is focused on the impact of public policies on work and family. She previously worked at the University of Minnesota where she managed the IPUMS-USA data project.

Light lunch served at 11:45.