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Alum with Iowa roots speaks at annual Beal Lecture

Michael CarolanMichael Carolan (MS ’99 rural sociology, Ph.D. ’02 sociology) returned to his alma mater at Iowa State University on Oct. 31 to present the annual Beal Distinguished Lecture in Rural Sociology. His talk, “Not the ‘Whole Picture:’ Reimagining Food Systems to Account for What We Don’t Know,” addressed why political and social divisiveness continues in America, and how the way we think shapes our view and opinions.

Carolan holds several faculty and administrative positions at Colorado State University, including co-director of the Food Systems Institute for Research, Engagement and Learning; professor of sociology; food systems specialist for the Office of Engagement and Extension; and associate dean of research for the College of Liberal Arts.

Carolan is a prolific writer, and has published more than 300 peer review articles and chapters. He is co-editor for the Journal of Rural Studies, co-editor for the British Food Journal, and associate editor for the journal Sustainability. His areas of expertise include environmental and agricultural law and policy, environmental sociology, the sociology of food systems and agriculture, economic sociology, and the sociology of technology and scientific knowledge.

Carolan has authored more than a dozen books, including his most recent title, “A Decent Meal: Building Empathy in a Divided America.” This book has won numerous national and international awards, including the “getAbstract 2022 International Book Award” in the business impact category.

The George M. Beal Distinguished Lectureship in Rural Sociology was created in 2014 to celebrate and honor the life of George M. Beal, emeritus professor and former chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice. Beal devoted his career to addressing significant issues and trends impacting rural communities and people.