Sharon Harlan

Bouvé College of Health Sciences Professor and Department Chair, Environmental health, Environmental sociology, Environmental justice, Social impacts of climate change

Sharon L. Harlan is Professor of Health Sciences and Sociology at Northeastern University. Dr. Harlan’s research explores the human impacts of climate change that are dependent upon people’s positions in social hierarchies, places in built environments of unequal quality, and policies that improve or impede human adaptive capabilities.

Focusing on excessive heat as a significant and increasingly critical threat to human health and well-being in cities, she studies urban landscapes that produce unequal risks for people in neighborhoods divided by social class and race/ethnicity. She has led multi-institutional, interdisciplinary research and community engagement projects that integrate social theories about the historical production of environmental injustices with data and models from the ecological, geospatial, and health sciences.

Her work on coupled natural and human systems has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation on urban vulnerability to climate change, sustainability and social equity in urban water systems, the Central Arizona–Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research program, and metropolitan area surveys on environmental attitudes and behaviors. She has served as an advisor on climate justice and social vulnerability to organizations such as the American Sociological Association, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the Social Science Coordinating Committee of the U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program.

Dr. Harlan earned a BA in Sociology at Northeastern University and a PhD in Sociology from Cornell University.