Research/Areas of Interest:

Environmental sociology, science and technology studies, culture, political sociology, economic sociology, law and society, social and political theory, qualitative and computational methods


  • PhD Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, United States, 2020
  • MA Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, United States, 2016
  • MA Political Science, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, United States, 2014
  • BA Political Science and Economics, Portland State University, Portland, United States, 2012


Caleb Scoville is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Tufts University. He studies the politics of environmental knowledge and the dynamics of environmental controversies.

In his research, Dr. Scoville seeks to understand the power relations under which environmental knowledge is produced, the political consequences of new interventions into the nonhuman environment, and how technical, scientific, legal and political conceptions of nature interact in the context of social conflict and environmental change. He is particularly interested in how environmental injustices and degradation are legitimated politically through the strategic articulation of senses of "us" and "them." His published work has appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Theory Culture and Society, and Theory and Society, among other venues.

Dr. Scoville's current book project (under contract with Columbia University Press) is a deep dive into the case of the Delta Smelt, a small endangered species of fish caught in the center of California's so-called "water wars" that subsequently became enrolled in the USA's partisan culture wars. Drawing on rich historical and ethnographic evidence, and systematically analyzed media data, the project "follows the fish" through the (often ironic) entanglements of extractive infrastructure, science, law, electoral politics, and the public sphere. It offers a new theoretical framework for analyzing conflicts over natural resources that centers on how attempts to control and define nature originating in one domain of social life overflow into others, triggering a chain of subsequent interventions that shape the terms of future environmental conflict. This work is supported by a 2023 ACLS (American Council of Learned Societies) Fellowship and has received awards and honorable mentions from the American Sociological Association's sections on Theory, Environmental Sociology, Science Knowledge and Technology, Sociology of Law, and Animals and Society, as well as the Pacific Sociological Association and the University of California, Berkeley's Department of Sociology, where Dr. Scoville completed his doctorate in 2020.

At Tufts, Dr. Scoville's research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Faculty Research Awards Committee, the Climate, Renewable Energy, Agriculture, Technology, and Ecology (CREATE) Solutions initiative, and a Neubauer Faculty Fellowship. During his graduate studies at Berkeley, he held fellowships sponsored by the Center for the Study of Law & Society, the Institute of Governmental Studies, the Center for Technology, Society & Policy, and the Algorithmic Fairness and Opacity Working Group.

Dr. Scoville is currently engaged in several collaborative research projects including one on how artificial intelligence technologies are shaping the field of environmental conservation and their implications for environmental justice (with Carl Boettiger, Millie Chapman, Razvan Amironesei, Hilary Faxon, Samantha Jo Fried, Marcus Lapeyrolerie, Michael Reed, Amy Van Scoyoc, and Lily Xu), another on the moral regulation of states by financial markets (with Marion Fourcade and Irem Inal), a third on the politics of face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic (with Andrew McCumber, Razvan Amironesei, June Jeon, and Tara Gonsalves), and a fourth on the future in unsettled times (with Ioana Sendroiu). Dr. Scoville is also laying the groundwork for a second book-length project, tentatively titled, Divided by Nature. In it, he will analyze the socio-historical process through which environmental politics became partisan in the USA.

Dr. Scoville teaches Environmental Sociology and Social Theory at Tufts University. He is also a faculty affiliate with the Environmental Studies Program at Tufts, and an affiliated scholar with the Climate Social Science Network at the Institute at Brown for Environment & Society. From 2020 to 2022, he was an affiliate of the Research