Sharon Harlan

Interim Chair and Professor
  • Department of Health Sciences

Office: 316 Robinson Hall
Phone: 617-373-3666

Sharon L. Harlan is jointly appointment in the Department of Health Sciences and the Department of Sociology & Anthropology.  Her research explores the human impacts of climate change that are dependent upon people’s positions in social hierarchies, places in built environments of unequal quality, and policies that improve or impede adaptive capabilities.  Focusing on excessive heat and water scarcity as significant and increasingly critical threats to human health and well-being in semi-arid cities, she studies urban landscapes that produce unequal risks for people in neighborhoods divided by social class and race/ethnicity.  Dr. Harlan collaborates with the Urban Water Sustainability Network on research and community engagement relevant to urban communities that are disadvantaged by the cost and quality of water, flood hazards, and climate change.  She has led several multi-institutional, interdisciplinary research and engagement projects that integrate social theories about the historical production of environmental injustices with data and models from the ecological, geospatial, and health sciences.  She has served as an advisor on climate justice and social vulnerability to organizations such as the American Sociological Association, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the Social Science Coordinating Committee of the U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program.  She teaches courses on environmental health, climate justice, and social survey design.  Dr. Harlan earned a BA in Sociology at Northeastern University and a PhD in Sociology from Cornell University.