Thomas Safford

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
Master in Community Development Policy and Practice Faculty
Master in Public Policy Faculty
Faculty Fellow


As a Carsey Faculty Fellow, Tom Safford is investigating the social implications of environmental change in communities across the U.S. and abroad.  Previously, Tom was part of Carsey’s Communities and the Environment in Rural America (CERA) initiative.  In conjunction with CERA, he developed collaborative research with the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the USDA Rural Development Program, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  This included examining how natural resource dependent communities adapt to linked social and environmental change in Southeast Alaska, investigating public perceptions of the response to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and developing social indicators for coastal restoration acceptability in the Puget Sound region of Washington. 

Tom is also a principle investigator on the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded New England Sustainability Consortium Project (2013 – 2016)researching how social and institutional factors affect scientific engagement in coastal management in New England.  He is also exploring how scientific information influences public perceptions of the health, environmental, and economic risks associated with marine environmental problems. In addition to his work in the United States, Tom is collaborating with colleagues in Brazil on an inter-disciplinary investigation of the social and environmental implications of marine aquaculture development and off-shore oil exploration for coastal communities across Brazil.

Tom is an associate professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire. His research focuses on understanding the social bases of environmental attitudes and beliefs, perceptions of science, and analyzing inter-organizational relationships among public and private sector actors engaged in environmental management. He has conducted applied sociological research and developed methods for integrating social, natural, and physical science data to support policy making and natural resource management for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). His prior research appears in such journals as Society and Natural Resources, Social Science Quarterly, Rural Sociology, Environmental Management, Journal of Rural and Community Development, Journal of Environmental Management, and Coastal Management. Tom received his bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, his master's degree from Stanford University, and his doctorate degree from Cornell University. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the NOAA Coastal Services Center and NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center from 2004 to 2006.  Most recently, Tom was a Fulbright Scholar at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Florianópolis, Brazil in 2014.

Carsey Publications