Dr. Daniel Sarabia named the first-ever book review editor for the interdisciplinary sociological journal “Nature and Culture”

Sarabia brings Roanoke College into international spotlight through his work with the journal

Only three years out of graduate school at Oklahoma State University, Dr. Daniel Sarabia, assistant professor of sociology, is working among scholars he has studied and respected for years. In November 2007, Sarabia was named the first-ever book review editor for the interdisciplinary sociological journal Nature and Culture. The journal, established in 2006, is a forum for the international community of scholars to present, discuss and evaluate issues and themes related to relationships that societies, civilizations, and nation-states have with nature.

Because the journal is based in Leipzig, Germany, it depends on international connections and conversations for issues to run twice a year. Reflecting on his appointment, Sarabia said this was an honor he didn't expect.

"This job is no easy task," Sarabia said. "However, I continue to have the opportunity to stay current in the literature and am able to carry that into my lectures."

Sarabia was approached by Nature and Culture's editor, Dr. Sing Chew, who was also Sarabia's undergraduate mentor while he attended Humbolt State University in California. After approval by the Journal's editorial board, Sarabia was appointed to serve as the book review editor, and he has since been immersed in contacting publishers and reading through current works.

Sarabia's responsibilities as book review editor include identifying themes for each issue, editing submitted book review essays, and contacting individuals whose research fits within the purview of the journal. A perk of his position with Nature and Culture is meeting researchers in the field. After speaking with scholars he has studied since his undergraduate days at Humboldt State, Sarabia has been awestruck by the relationships and bonds he has formed with individuals in the short time he has worked with Nature and Culture.

"Talking and writing e-mails to scholars I respect is very humbling," Sarabia said. "They're important figures in the subfield of environmental sociology. It seems so strange to refer to them by their first names because these are people at the forefront of ideas that I admire so much."

However, Sarabia is more excited that Roanoke is being recognized internationally because of his work with the journal. Roanoke joins the ranks of institutions such as Wageningen University in the Netherlands, Lund University in Sweden, and University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom through involvement with this publication.

"This is not only a privilege for me, but it's also exciting that through the journal Roanoke College is linked with schools all over the world." Sarabia said. "My intent is to facilitate a dialogue between scholars and encourage interdisciplinary research."

All books that could potentially be reviewed in the journal are filtered through Sarabia, giving him plenty of new material to potentially integrate into the classroom. He has found many new authors and information to introduce to his first-year sociology, environmental sociology, and demography students. Because he is able to stay current in the literature, Sarabia feels he has the opportunity to incorporate current scholarly issues and debates into the classroom.

"What I get from this experience that is most valuable is just being engaged in the literature," Sarabia said. "Students benefit from the scholarly endeavors of faculty. My conversations with figures in the field are important because I can share them with students."

Sarabia also said that his work with Nature and Culture will help his research, and he believes that the faculty at Roanoke is privileged to have the freedom to conduct outside research while fulfilling their role as instructors.

"I am always thinking of how to incorporate new information into lectures and research," said Sarabia. "Because of the reading I do for Nature and Culture, I am able to further my knowledge and bring something new to students and my work as well."

Sarabia will hold his appointment as book review editor for the next five years. Within that time, the journal hopes to be established as a quarterly publication. Sarabia is excited to see the journal grow and contribute to the discourse on environmental issues and problems.

"I have always had an interest in interdisciplinary approaches to the study of ecological relations," said Sarabia. "The journal can certainly be a vehicle through which we improve our understanding of the relationship between nature and culture."


About the Author

Laura Scuffins '09 was an English major who interned in the Office of Public Relations. She was editor of the campus newspaper, The Brackety-Ack, and a member of Chi Omega sorority. Laura also was a member of Roanoke's track team for 3 years.