Allan Schnaiberg (August 20, 1939 – June 6, 2009) was an American sociologist known especially for his contributions to environmental sociology. At the time of his death, Schnaiberg was Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Allan with his grandson Benjamin

Allan with his grandson Benjamin in 2009

Son of Belle and Harry Schnaiberg, Allan was born August 20, 1939 in Montreal. He graduated with distinction in general science from McGill University and went on to earn a Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Michigan. He joined the sociology faculty at Northwestern University in 1969 and served as sociology department chair from 1976-1979, receiving numerous honors and awards for his scholarship over the years. He retired from Northwestern in 2008 but remained actively engaged in his field.

Allan was the author of scores of scholarly articles and books on topics ranging from globalization and the environment to labor and social inequality. He was a founder of the field of environmental sociology, generating a groundbreaking Treadmill of Production framework for understanding environmental degradation and authoring a seminal 1980 book The Environment: From Surplus to Scarcity.

Allan served as mentor to countless students and was widely known for his devotion to and continued connections with former students, practicing an open door—and open heart—policy. He was wide open to the adventure of life. He was very much loved and will be deeply missed by all.

A memorial service and reception was held Monday, June 15, at the Jeanne Vail Meditation Chapel, 1870 Sheridan Road, adjacent to the Alice Millar Chapel on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. The American Sociological Association’s Section on Environment and Technology held a memorial for Allan on Aug. 10 in San Francisco during the ASA’s annual meeting. Northwestern University’s Sociology Department is planning a memorial service for fall 2009.

We will be working with Northwestern University’s Sociology Department to come up with a suitable means to memorialize his legacy; check back at this site for details on how to support the effort. Meantime, donations may be made to, an organization Allan supported generously over the years.

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