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Sofia Tagkaloglou '18

Master’s student, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Major in Environmental Studies, Minor in Economics

Sofia’s environmental and social justice efforts on campus led her to conduct research on collaborative pro-environmental behaviors.

Sofia and Emeritus Professor of Psychology Tim Kasser’s joint research paper was published in the Journal of Environmental PsychologyThe article reveals how motivational interviewing and self-determination has an impact on collaborative behavior.

Describe your research.

It focuses on shifting people's behavior from individually oriented pro-environmental behaviors, like recycling and signing petitions, to collaborative pro-environmental behaviors, like volunteering for pro-environmental organizations and engaging in protests. The research was an effort to understand how to be more effective at the work that I am doing in mobilizing others for progressive action.

How was your research emblematic of your Knox experience?

I was very involved in different environmental and social justice efforts on campus, including the solar panel academic project, the Student Senate Sustainability Committee, the initiation of local organization Trees4Galesburg, the development of the Knox Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing, and a variety of initiatives that I led as Student Senate president my senior year to support student action on campus. I feel that I was very mobilized by my environmental studies education to take action regarding the injustices that I was seeing, and I was privileged with the support of many Knox community members that were willing to help me whenever I asked for it.

Wanting to mobilize others for collaborative action was also an important academic focus for me. This also carried out to my Honors project in economics during my senior year. For that research, I worked with Professor of Economics Steve Cohn to investigate what characteristics of U.S. worker cooperatives (businesses owned by their workers) were related to their engagement in institutional advocacy efforts for the cooperative movements. 

How did this experience prepare you for graduate school?

It really prepared me to engage in social science research, and that has been immensely valuable as many of my classes in graduate school involve hands-on research experience. This study really helped me develop a lot of foundational communication skills, and I am still processing all the implications from my lessons years later. Even now, I continue to focus on social movements and how they drive larger societal change. That is really the culmination of my experiences at Knox as an activist scholar.

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Printed on Thursday, April 25, 2024