Professor Listing


Ken J. Caine, PhD

Associate Professor, Sociology



About Me

I am an Environmental Sociologist in the Department of Sociology. I completed my PhD in Rural Sociology from the University of Alberta in 2008. Originally from the Northwest Territories (NWT), I was trained as a forester (BSc. Forestry) and worked as an extension forester (research, application, and education) for the Government of the NWT and later in Northern British Columbia with Indigenous groups on forest stewardship issues. As an environmental sociologist I explore social practices, power dynamics, and institutional change in the context of environmental governance and natural resource management in the western Arctic of the Canadian North and in other circumpolar regions. My current SSHRC funded research is on Aboriginal youth hybrid environmental knowledge in the Sahtu region of the NWT. I am a Board Member of the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies. Outside of work, I play tennis and ice hockey, ride and constantly rebuild my 30-year old Miele mountain bike, and tag along in explorations of remote beaches with my partner, son, and Bernese Mountain Dog.


Research Interest Areas:

  • Environmental sociology
  • Critical institutionalism
  • Institutional bricolage
  • Environmental governance
  • Circumpolar natural resource management
  • Cross-cultural communication
  • Alternative Pedagogies

I am interested in social practices, power dynamics, and critical institutionalism related to environmental governance. I do this through theoretical and empirical investigation of issues surrounding community-based natural resources management, co-management, and community social development; decision-making and the commons; and social-ecological change and local culture. My educational and experiential background in natural science (forestry, ecology) and social science (sociology, extension) provides me with the intellectual tools to move between these research areas.

My research to date consists of qualitative fieldwork in the Canadian North on Indigenous land governance issues specifically around cultural landscapes and watershed management where the power of stories interact with political power structures suggesting stories and land-use as forms of governance. I am interested in the intersection of power, culture, and environmental and resource governance in circumpolar regions as well as areas where communities face development issues around energy, water and climate change. In my research I problematize environmental governance through a Bourdieusian lens attempting to understand how power and meaning lead to a variety of outcomes, both positive and negative. Methodologically, I am interested in issue-oriented ethnography and ethnographic methods, as well as other qualitative methods. I am especially interested in the use of both qualitative and quantitative methods in research design and application.

My current research (SSHRC Insight Development Grant) explores how Aboriginal youth within the formal education system in the Northwest Territories understand, express and apply their unique knowledge that is simultaneously derived from Dene knowledge and school-based knowledge, in the context of co-management-based natural resource management. 

Graduate students interested in the above research areas can contact me directly.

Current Supervised Sociology Graduate Students:

Shingi Mandizadza (ABD, PhD / Vanier Scholar): Land, power and gender in Zimbabwe

Rezvaneh Erfani Hossein Pour (PhD Student / Vanier Scholar): Environmentalism in the Middle East; Social and Political Capacities of Environmental Movements in Iran, Turkey and Qatar

Luke Wonneck (PhD Student, September 2019): Exploring Social Practice Networks that Impact Riparian Health in Alberta’s Agricultural Lands

Recently Graduated:

Dr. Eva Bogdan (PhD, 2019): Flooding discourse: Perceptions and practices of the 2013 flood management in High River, Alberta

Dr. Jennifer Braun (PhD, 2019): Making a Place at the Table: Examining the Influence and Impact of Women in Agricultural Leadership in the Canadian Prairies

Amanda Evans (MA, 2018): An Ecological habitus on the oil field? The paradox of climate change and the environmental attitudes and behaviours of northern Alberta oilsands workers.

Rezvaneh Erfani Hossein (MA, 2018): A Postcolonial Critique of Environmental Justice: A Discourse Analysis of United Nations Documents on Post-Invasion Iraq and Afghanistan


Current Courses Taught:

SOC 518 - Qualitative Methods in Social Research (Fall term)

SOC 656 - Topics in Environmental Sociology: Society, Power and the Environment (Fall Term)

SOC 291 - Introduction to Environmental Sociology (Winter Term)

SOC 203  - Social Problems (Fall Term)

SOC 100 - Introductory Sociology (Winter / Fall Terms)

Courses Previously Taught:

RSOC 365 – Sociology of Environment and Development (2008-2010)

CSL 350/360 – Oil and Community: Health Equity in a Petro-Environment (2011)