Debra Davidson

Professor, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sci - Resource Economics & Environmental Sociology


Professor, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sci - Resource Economics & Environmental Sociology
(780) 492-4598
543 General Services Building
9007 - 116 St NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2H1


Area of Study / Keywords

Environmental Sociology; Transition Studies; Institutional Analysis


Areas of Specialization: Climate change impacts, mitigation and adaptation, Environmental equity and justice, Transitions in energy and food systems, Natural resource politics and governance.


Current Research Activities: Advancing Impact Assessment for Canada's Socio-Ecological Systems. Co-Lead Investigators Dr. Debra Davidson and Dr. Ian Stewart (Kings University). Social Sciences and Humanities Partnership Development Grant. Co-funder: Impact Assessment Agency of Canada. Funding: $652,000. 2020-2023. This interdisciplinary and collaborative research initiative includes participation of researchers and partner organizations across Canada. We are focusing on how we can address many of the most challenging issues facing impact assessment processes in Canada, including gender-based analysis, addressing Indigenous sovereignty, integrating multiple forms of knowledge, and emerging climate impacts.


R SOC 271 - The Politics of Food and Natural Resources

Students will gain a sociological understanding of contemporary Canadian politics in the food and natural resources sectors. Examination of the nature of political organizations and policymaking in Canada; the particular roles played by the state, the public, and certain sectors of civil society, including social movements, industry organizations, labour unions, scientific organizations, and rural and Indigenous peoples. Contemporary case studies may include climate change and energy dependence, genetic engineering in agribusiness, the organic food products movement, mining in the circumpolar north, forestry expansion in the boreal region and cod management in the Atlantic fisheries. Not to be taken if credit received for ENCS 271 or REN R 271.

R SOC 555 - Advances in Environmental Sociology

In-depth examination of a select set of current theoretical and empirical areas in the sub-discipline of environmental sociology. Examines the relationships among various environmental and social problems and how such problems and undesirable conditions can be and are being addressed. Prerequisite: R SOC 450.

R SOC 559 - States, Social Movements and the Environment

Covers classic and contemporary theories of states and social movements and their application to environmental and ecological issues. Topics include the Environmental State; relationships among state and societal forces; sub-national, national, and international environmental politics; political distinctions among environmental and ecological issues; and the potential for sustainability governance. Prerequisite: consent of Instructor.

Browse more courses taught by Debra Davidson

Scholarly Activities

Research - Resilient Forests: The social dimensions of adopting genomics assisted tree improvement strategies for climate change adaptation in Alberta's forest sector.

20160901 to 20200930

Resilient Forests is a large interdisciplinary research project that entails studying the viability of genomics-assisted tree improvement strategies in the forest sector in Alberta. This project includes a social science component led by Dr. Davidson and Dr. Gwendolyn Blue (University of Calgary), that focuses on three research activities: 1. a combination of media analysis and focus groups among diverse publics will be pursued to allow for characterization of the political landscape into which genomics assisted tree breeding would be introduced, in order to identify key priority issues and potential controversies that may emerge; 2. evaluation of the institutional reflexivity of scientific expertise in the forest sciences to allow for cautionary management of new technologies, and effective science-policy communication; 3. assessment of lessons learned among forest practitioners who have adopted similar new technologies in the past.

Research - Social and organizational dimensions of climate change mitigation among Alberta’s grain and beef producers

20170102 to 20181231

There is tremendous potential for building sector-level mitigation capacity by identifying innovative management practices already taking place. Determining the efficacy of such practices, and the organizational factors that facilitate their emergence can inform strategic planning designed to enable sector-wide upscaling of innovative mitigation technologies, enabling more producers to take advantage of carbon credits, and enhance the environmental sustainability of operations. Achieving such goals requires transdisciplinary research in which the social dimensions of agriculture are given equal weight with biophysical and technological dimensions. Here, we focus on climate mitigation in the grain and beef production sectors while maintaining or enhancing economic vitality. Through the use of media analysis, surveys, and interviews, we draw attention to the influence of social and organizational factors on management and farm-level decision making, which is essential to inform strategic planning for efficient adoption of new mitigation technologies. 

Featured Publications

Truong, Duyen, Parkins, John R. & Davidson, Debra J.

Society & Natural Resources. 2020 January;

Context matters: Fracking attitudes, knowledge and trust in three communities in Alberta, Canada.

Truong, Duyen, Davidson, Debra J. & Parkins, John R.

The Extractive Industries and Society. 2020 January; 6 (4):1325-1332

Ignoring Indigenous peoples—climate change, oil development, and Indigenous rights clash in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Zentner, Emilie, Kecinski, Maik, Letourneau, Angeline and Debra J. Davidson.

Climatic Change. 2019 January; 155 (4):533-544

Exnovating for a renewable energy transition.

Davidson, Debra J.

Nature Energy. 2019 January; 4 (April):254-256

Just don’t call it climate change: Climate-skeptic farmer adoption of climate mitigative practices

Davidson, Debra J., Rollins, Curtis, Lefsrud, Lianne, Anders, Sven, Hamann, Andreas

Environmental Research Letters. 2019 January; 14 (3):034015

Emotion, reflexivity and social change in the era of extreme fossil fuels.

Davidson, Debra J.

British Journal of Sociology . 2019 January; 70 (2):442-462

The Effort Factor: An adjustment to our understanding of social-ecological metabolism in the era of Peak Oil.

Davidson, Debra J.

Social Problems . 2019 January; 66 (1):69–85

Missed opportunities: The absence of climate change in media coverage of forest fire events in Alberta.

Davidson, Debra J., Anthony Fisher and Gwendolyn Blue.

Climatic Change . 2019 January; 153 (1):165-179

Environment and Society: Concepts and Challenges

Bostrom, Magnus and Davidson, Debra J.

Palgrave-MacMillan. 2018 January;

Rethinking adaptation: Emotions, evolution, and climate change.

Davidson, Debra J.

Nature and Culture . 2018 January; 13 (3):378-402

Chipping away at democracy: Legislative slippage in Alberta’s energy development zone.

Davidson, Debra J. Edwin Edou, and Barry Robinson

Energy Research and Social Science. 2018 January; 46

Overcoming the ‘Barriers’ Orthodoxy: A New Approach to Understanding Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Governance Challenges in the Canadian Forest Sector.

Wellstead, Adam, Robbert Beisbroek, Paul Cairney, Debra Davidson, Johann Dupuis, Michael Howlett, Jeremy Rayner, and Richard Stedman

Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 2018 January; 48

Calling forth the change-makers: Reflexivity theory and climate change attitudes and behaviors.

Davidson, Debra J. and Richard C. Stedman.

Acta Sociologica . 2018 January; 61 (1):79-94

Oxford Handbook of Energy and Society

Davidson, Debra J. and Matthias Gross (Editors)

Oxford University Press. 2018 January;

Evaluating the Effects of Living with Contamination from the Lens of Trauma: A case study of fracking development in Alberta, Canada.

Davidson, Debra J.

Environmental Sociology . 2017 January; 4 (2):196-209

The Food, Energy and Water Nexus and Urban Complexity.

Lankao, Patricia Romero, Timon McPhearson, and Debra J. Davidson

Nature Climate Change . 2017 January; 7 (4):233-235

Is urban agriculture a game changer or window dressing? A critical analysis of its potential to disrupt conventional agri-food systems.

Davidson, Debra J.

International Journal of the Sociology of Agriculture and Food . 2017 January; 23 (2):63-76

Davidson, Debra J., Kevin E. Jones and John Parkins

Agriculture, Food and Human Values. 2016 January; 33 (2):359-371

Gaps in agricultural climate adaptation research.

Davidson, Debra J.

Nature Climate Change. 2016 January; 6

Davidson, Debra J.

Chapter 10 in The Routledge International Handbook of Social and Environmental Change. 2014 January;

Davidson, Debra J. and Michael Gismondi

Sociological Imagination. 2014 January; 50 (1):13-34

Jones, Kevin, and Debra J. Davidson

Food Policy. 2014 January; 49

Davidson, Debra J. Jeffrey Andrews and Daniel Pauly

Global Environmental Change. 2014 January; 25

Davidson, Debra J. and Jeffrey Andrews

Science. 2013 January; 339 (15 March):1286-1287

Andrews, Jeffrey and Debra J. Davidson

Sustainability. 2013 January; 5

Davidson, Debra J.

Society and Natural Resources. 2013 January; 26 (1):21-24

Shearer, Christine, Debra Davidson and Robert Gramling

Research in Social Problems and Public Policy, Special Edition: William Freudenburg, A Life in Social Research. 2013 January; 21

Davidson, Debra J. and Riley E. Dunlap.

Journal for Environmental Studies and Sciences. 2012 January; 2 (1):1-6

Davidson, Debra J

British Journal of Sociology,. 2012 January; 63 (4):616-640

Davidson, Debra J. and Don Grant

Journal for Environmental Studies and Sciences. 2012 January; 2 (1):69-77

Davidson, Debra J. and Michael Gismondi

2011 January;

Davidson, Debra J. and Michael Haan

Population and Environment. 2011 January; 34 (2):217-234

Webb, Shevenell M., Davidson, Debra J. and Boyce, Mark S

Human Dimensions of Wildlife,. 2008 January; 13 (2):115–126

Haluza-Delay, Randolph and Debra J. Davidson

Canadian Journal of Sociology. 2008 January; 33 (3):631-656

Freudenburg, William R., Robert Gramling, and Debra J. Davidson

Sociological Inquiry. 2008 January; 78 (1):2-38

Parkins, John and Debra J. Davidson

Canadian Review of Sociology. 2008 January; 45 (2):177-196

MacKendrick, Norah and Debra J. Davidson

Current Sociology,. 2007 January; 55 (5):674-695

Davidson, Debra. 2007. Section 4.4 in Sauchyn, D., and Kulshreshtha, S

From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate 2007. 2007 January;

Davidson, Debra J

Sociological Inquiry,. 2007 January; 77 (1):104-125

Gismondi, Michael, Debra Davidson, Satoshi Ikeda, Ineke Locke, and Jeji Varghese

Power and Resistance: Critical Thinking about Canadian Social Issues. 2007 January; 4th Ed

Freudenburg, William R. and Debra J. Davidson

Rural Sociology,. 2007 January; 72 (2):215-243

Wellstead, A.M., D.J. Davidson, and R.C. Stedman

Journal of Ecosystems and Management. 2006 January; 7 (3):1-9

Fisher, Dana R., R. David Simpson, Bhaskar Vira, W. Bradnee Chambers, Debra J. Davidson

2005 January;

Davidson, Debra J. and Kierstin Hatt, Editors

2005 January;

Davidson, Debra J. and Scott Frickel

Organization and Environment. 2004 January; 17 (4):471-492

Davidson, Debra J. and Norah MacKendrick

Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology. 2004 January; 41 (1):47-65

Frickel, Scott, and Debra J. Davidson

International Sociology. 2004 January; 19 (1):89-110

Stedman, Richard C., Debra J. Davidson, and Adam M. Wellstead

Risk Analysis. 2004 January; 24 (5):1393-1404

Davidson, Debra J., Michael Gismondi, Satoshi Ikeda, Michelle Lee, Ineke Lock, Jeji Varghese, Angela Wilson

Power and Resistance: Critical Thinking about Canadian Social Issues. 2003 January; 3rd Ed

Davidson, Debra J

Journal of Risk Research,. 2003 January; 6 (3):253-266

Davidson, Debra J., Tim Williamson and John Parkins

Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 2003 January; 33 (11):2252-2261

Debra J. Davidson and Ross E. Mitchell

NAFTA in the New Millennium. 2002 January;

Davidson, Debra J

Policy Studies Review. 2001 January; 17 (3):212-240

Davidson, Debra J. and William R. Freudenburg

Environment and Behavior. 1996 January; 28 (3):302-339

Debra J. Davidson

International Journal of the Sociology of Agriculture and Food. 23 (2):63-76

Debra J. Davidson

Environmental Sociology. 4 (2):196-209

Debra J. Davidson, Richard C. Stedman

Acta Sociologica. 61 (1):79-94

Lankao, Patricia Romero, Timon McPhearson, and Debra J. Davidson

Nature Climate Change. 7 (4):233-235