Kayleigh Ward

Welcome! I am Kayleigh Ward, an environmental sociologist, community engaged researcher, and community advocate. As a community engagement practitioner I focus my work on improving the well-being of the communities I work with through a variety of community-vetted programs and interventions.

I received my Dual PhD from the Department of Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy at Michigan State University. I previously investigated how rural post-disaster communities handle and address co-evolving issues of depopulation, deprivation, labor issues, and aging. I am extremely active in Japan, having worked with NGOs, NPOs, and CSOs in Miyagi prefecture for seven years to create community-partnered programs to address social problems following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. I focus on meeting the needs of local partners and residents through projects that center local knowledges to create community-specified and context-specific solutions. Please visit my community projects page to learn more about the amazing grassroots work to improve the lives of disaster affected communities.

Through my environmental science and policy research I largely investigate the connections between national and local government disaster management policies and climate change, and their influence on natural resources, social infrastructure, and economic development. The goal of my work is to improve our understanding of rural issues, especially those underpinned by regional and demographic crises, to increase and support community resiliency, flexibility, sustainability, and quality of well-being.

More recently I have joined the Social Science and Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI) at Northeastern University as part of the Water Equity Team to assist with a variety of projects using community-based participatory methodologies. Currently our 5 member research team is investigating how decisions by US water management agencies affect water inequities and well-being of residents, what the public health consequences of water unaffordability are, and the associations between access to water-based amenities and teenagers’ emotional health.

Associated certifications:

MSU onGEO Professional GIS certificate (Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences)

MSU Community Engagement Certification (University Outreach and Engagement)

Postdoctoral research associate Social Science and Environmental Health Research Institute Northeastern University

PhD Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy 2022 Michigan State University

MA Sociology 2018 Michigan State University

BA Sociology and English 2016 University of San Diego