Laura McKinney

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Tulane University

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About Laura

McKinney’s research focuses on ecology and society and how an interdisciplinary understanding of nature/society interactions can inform global and local sustainability objectives. Current projects include tracking each nation’s relative contribution to overshoot of the earth’s carrying capacity; analyzing the domestic and international attributes that drive (and alleviate) overshoot; and local examinations of sustainable living in high-risk environments, such as coastal communities facing disasters and rural communities in close proximity to toxic waste sites.

In the News

Quoted by Tom Murphy in "Natural Disasters Hit the Poor the Hardest, Empowering Women Can Help Fix That," Humanosphere, November 16, 2016.


"Foreign Direct Investment, Development, and Overshoot" Social Science Research (online-first article, April 2014).
Advances an interdisciplinary analysis of sustainability as measured by overshoot. Rich nations’ outward foreign investments facilitate overshoot of the earth’s carrying capacity by appropriating resources from abroad. Inward foreign investments limit modernization and consumption in receiving countries. Economic globalization undermines sustainability at the local, national and global levels.
"Ecological Losses are Harming Women: A Structural Analysis of Female HIV Prevalence and Life Expectancy in Less-Developed Countries" (with Laura McKinney). Social Problems (2015).

Argues that ecological losses reduce women’s longevity via increased HIV rates, hunger, and diminished health resources. Points to the importance of ecological conditions and the efficacy of incorporating ecofeminist frameworks to explain global health and gender inequalities.

"Disease, War, Hunger, and Deprivation: A Cross-National Investigation of the Determinants of Life Expectancy in Less-Developed and Sub-Saharan African Nations" (with Kelly Austin). Sociological Perspectives 55, no. 3 (2012): 421-447.
Compares the relative significance of four factors (HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, poverty, and warfare) known to contribute to reductions in life expectancy in less-developed countries. Conclusions point to the uniqueness of sub-Saharan African nations, in which modernization, warfare, and hunger exacerbate the spread of HIV/AIDS, which is the strongest determinant of life expectancy in the region.
"Entropic Disorder: New Frontiers in Environmental Sociology" Sociological Perspectives 55, no. 2 (2012): 295-317.
Advances an interdisciplinary understanding of sustainability by synthesizing physical, natural and social sciences. Renewable energy usage has the potential to check overshoot of the earth’s carrying capacity, but nations with the highest levels of development evidence very little reliance on renewable energy sources.
"World-System, Anthropogenic, and Ecological Threats to Bird and Mammal Species: A Structural Equation Analysis of Biodiversity Loss" (with Edward Kick and Gregory Fulkerson). Organization & Environment 23, no. 1 (2010): 3-31.
Documents the role of production in posing threats to biodiversity richness, which is at odds with sustainability. Bird and mammal species in Latin America, the Amazon basin, and Asia face the greatest threats of extinction.