Dr. Thomas W. Pearson

Professor / Department Chair

Phone 715-232-1515
Office 441C Harvey Hall

Thomas Pearson is a cultural anthropologist and chair of the social science department. His teaching and research interests include environmental justice, political ecology, social movements, applied anthropology, and disability studies. Pearson has conducted ethnographic fieldwork on environmental conflicts in both Central America and the United States related to biodiversity conservation, GMOs, intellectual property rights, sand mining, and industrial pollution and toxic exposure. In addition to numerous academic articles and essays, he is the author of "When the Hills Are Gone: Frac Sand Mining and the Struggle for Community," published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2017. His second book, "An Ordinary Future: Margaret Mead, the Problem of Disability, and a Child Born Different," draws on his experiences as the father of a daughter with Down syndrome. Published by the University of California Press in 2023, it blends memoir and cultural analysis to explore evolving ideas of disability and human difference. Pearson's current research is a collaborative, multi-sited ethnographic study of community responses to PFAS contamination in the mid-Ohio River Valley and Upper Great Lakes regions of the United States, a project sponsored by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.