The Department of Social Ecology is a new unit created by the merger of two departments previously operating at the Institute of Sociology: the Department of Sociology of Rural Areas, and the Department of Sociology of Education and Youth. The broad spectrum of scientific and research interests of its employees — including issues of rural and urban sociology, local and sustainable development, research on the processes of socialization, education, and generations as important social media of change (also in the broader context of changes taking place in the societies of Central and Eastern Europe) — is united by a common view concerning broad spatial-environmental and historical determinants of social phenomena.
The name of the Department, on the one hand, refers to the way of practicing sociology that engages in the diagnosis of social problems in their environmental conditions, and, on the other hand, signals openness to new issues related to the social determinants of contemporary environmental problems and threats. In our theoretical and empirical work we strive to refer to the tradition of social ecology, including sozo-ecology, developed by Zbigniew T. Wierzbicki, the patron of rural sociology in Toruń.
One characteristic feature of the Department is the implementation of large research projects distinguished by a unique methodology, combining elements of dynamic and comparative procedures. Research activity of the Department’s employees is reflected in extensive scientific contacts and realized international projects (http://youth2015.irwirpan.wa.pl), publications, as well as in the international periodical Eastern European Countryside (http://www.eec.umk.pl/), published by the Department since 1993. Our staff are also recognized experts at top-level foreign and domestic institutions (the European Committee of the Regions, ministerial bodies, and important regional institutions).