Clarke, Lee 1946(?)-

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Clarke, Lee 1946(?)-

PERSONAL:

Born c. 1946. Education: Florida State University, B.S. (magna cum laude), 1979; State University of New York, Stony Brook, M.A., 1981, Ph.D., 1985.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Department of Sociology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 54 Joyce Kilmer Ave., Piscataway, NJ 08854; fax: 732-445-0974. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Academic and sociologist. Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ, assistant professor, 1988-1993, associate professor, 1993—, codirector of the Center for Social Research and Instruction, 1996-98. University of California, Los Angeles, postdoctoral fellow and adjunct assistant professor, 1985-87; Russell Sage Foundation, visiting scholar, 1987-88; Rutgers University Teaching Excellence Center, fellow, 1999-2000; Anschutz Distinguished Scholar, Princeton University, 2007.

MEMBER:

National Academy of Science, American Sociological Association (web advisory group, 2002—), Society for Risk Analysis, International Sociological Association, Eastern Sociological Society.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Rutgers Graduate School Award for Excellence, 1996-97, for teaching and graduate research; graduate mentoring award, Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools, 1998; Fred Buttel distinguished contribution award, Environment and Technology section of the American Sociological Association, 2005; Pulitzer Prize nomination, 2006, for Worst Cases: Terror and Catastrophe in the Popular Imagination; recipient of numerous research grants.

WRITINGS:

Acceptable Risk? Making Decisions in a Toxic Environment, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1991.

Mission Improbable: Using Fantasy Documents to Tame Disaster, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2001.

(Editor, with William R. Freudenburg and Ted I.K. Youn) Terrorism and Disaster: New Threats, New Ideas (Volume 11 of "Research in Social Problems and Public Policy" series), Emerald Group (Bingley, England), 2003.

Worst Cases: Terror and Catastrophe in the Popular Imagination, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2005.

Contributor to periodicals, including Atlantic Monthly, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Significance, Sociological Inquiry, American Journal of Public Health, Human Ecology Review, Journal of Emergency Management, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Quarterly, Contexts, Research in Social Problems and Public Policy, American Behavioral Scientist, American Sociologist, Annual Review of Sociology, Social Science Journal, Social Problems, Sociological Forum, Contemporary Sociology, Newsday, Natural Hazards Observer, Asbury Park Press, Home News Tribune, Industrial Crisis Quarterly, Isis, Academy of Management Review, Social Forces, Science, and New York Daily News.

Guest editor of Industrial Crisis Quarterly, 1992. On editorial board of Industrial and Environmental Crisis Quarterly (later called Organization and Environment), 1992-98. Editor and writer of newsletter for the Organizations, Occupations, and Work section of the American Sociological Association, 1995-96. Editorial board member of Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 1999—. Editorial board member of Contexts, 2004-07, and Journal of Patient Safety, 2004—.

SIDELIGHTS:

Lee Clarke is an academic and sociologist. Clarke earned a bachelor of science degree in 1979 from Florida State University, graduating magna cum laude. Clarke continued his graduate studies at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, earning a master of arts degree in 1981 and a Ph.D. in 1985. Upon completing his doctoral dissertation, Clarke served as a postdoctoral fellow and adjunct assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles until 1987. The following year, he was a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation. In 1988, Clarke began working as an assistant professor of sociology at Rutgers University. In 1993, he was promoted to associate professor of sociology. From 1996 to 1998, he served as the university's Center for Social Research and Instruction codirector. In 2007, Clarke served as the Anschutz Distinguished Scholar at Princeton University.

As a sociologist, Clarke is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the National Academy of Science, the American Sociological Association, the Society for Risk Analysis, the International Sociological Association, and the Eastern Sociological Society. As an academic, Clarke received the Rutgers Graduate School Award for Excellence in the 1996-97 academic year for his teaching and graduate research. In 1998, Clarke received a graduate mentoring award from the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools. In 2005, he was awarded the Fred Buttel distinguished contribution award from the Environment and Technology section of the American Sociological Association.

Clarke contributes regularly to periodicals and scholarly journals, including Atlantic Monthly, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Significance, Sociological Inquiry, American Journal of Public Health, Human Ecology Review, Journal of Emergency Management, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Quarterly, Contexts, Research in Social Problems and Public Policy, American Behavioral Scientist, American Sociologist, Annual Review of Sociology, Social Science Journal, Social Problems, Sociological Forum, Contemporary Sociology, Newsday, Natural Hazards Observer, Asbury Park Press, Home News Tribune, Industrial Crisis Quarterly, Isis, Academy of Management Review, Social Forces, Science, and the New York Daily News.

Clarke also served as an editor or on the editorial board for a number of journals. In 1992, he acted as the guest editor of Industrial Crisis Quarterly. He also served on the editorial board of Industrial and Environmental Crisis Quarterly, Contexts, Journal of Patient Safety, and the Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management.

Clarke published his first book, Acceptable Risk? Making Decisions in a Toxic Environment, in 1991. In 2001, Clarke published Mission Improbable: Using Fantasy Documents to Tame Disaster. The book examines organizational culture and the way in which certain organizations deal with disasters, including nuclear leaks or explosions, oil spills, toxic waste contamination, and natural disasters. Clarke argues that organizations that work in high-risk fields have a responsibility to prepare for a range of possible crises should an accident occur under their watch. Clarke does, however, show his appreciation for how difficult preparing for a disaster is for organizations, while at the same time, highlighting the very importance of this planning to avert turning an accident into a major catastrophe.

Mauro F. Guillen, reviewing the book in the Administrative Science Quarterly, found that "perhaps the key contribution of the book is the argument that fantasy documents help organizations translate uncertainty into risk, acceptable risk, that is. While Clarke has explored the issue of risk in earlier books, Mission Improbable lays out this argument in greater detail and with considerable supporting evidence." Guillen pointed out that "Clarke's analysis vacillates as to whether fantasy documents have no effect at all because of their unrealistic assumptions or actually exacerbate the danger." Guillen observed that the book "succeeds as an analysis of how organizations cope with the possibility of inflicting major damage on the community because of their dangerous undertakings." Guillen recommended Clarke's account "for undergraduate and graduate courses on the role of organizations in society, decision making, high-technology undertakings, and power and organizations."

In 2003 Clarke, along with William R. Freudenburg and Ted I.K. Youn, edited Terrorism and Disaster: New Threats, New Ideas, Volume 11 of the "Research in Social Problems and Public Policy" series by the Emerald Group. Clarke then published Worst Cases: Terror and Catastrophe in the Popular Imagination in 2005. A nominee for a 2006 Pulitzer Prize, the book once again raises the specter of being aware and prepared for the possibility that you will be affected by a disaster of some sort on a catastrophic level. Clarke brings to the foreground the extreme dangers of improbable but possible disasters, including the impact of near Earth objects, nerve gases from the burning of chemical weapons, or large-scale power grid failures.

Kem Crimmins, writing on Mental Help Net, commented that "Clarke's Worst Cases … is a book with a great deal of promise but at several crucial points fails to live up to its potential. While finding its place within the general industry of terror that has arisen in the US after September 11, 2001, Clarke's book takes a novel approach. Rather than ask why worst cases happen, or even what one can do to prevent them, the book argues that terror and catastrophe are unavoidable elements of modern society, and their impact on the popular imagination is well founded. In itself, that insight is valuable; however, the present reader wishes for a more robust investigation of how worst cases tell us about a society, both in terms of its ability to imagine and how it is structured." John Wilson, writing in Christianity Today, remarked that "Clarke makes his case in a flawed, occasionally maddening, but timely book, Worst Cases: Terror and Catastrophe in the Popular Imagination. ‘Worst cases,’ in Clarke's fuzzy usage, can mean anything from the 1937 explosion of the zeppelin Hindenburg or the 1940 failure of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to the extinction of the human race. A notion so elastic has little purchase. And the subtitle seems to belong to a different book, perhaps one concerned with disaster in movies, novels, and so on."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Administrative Science Quarterly, March, 2001, Mauro F. Guillen, review of Mission Improbable: Using Fantasy Documents to Tame Disaster, p. 151.

American Journal of Sociology, July, 1991, Gary A. Kreps, review of Acceptable Risk? Making Decisions in a Toxic Environment, p. 255; May, 2000, Peter K. Manning, review of Mission Improbable, p. 1812.

American Political Science Review, September, 1990, Robert E. O'Connor, review of Acceptable Risk?, p. 991.

British Journal of Sociology, March, 2007, Carl Macrae, review of Worst Cases: Terror and Catastrophe in the Popular Imagination, p. 144.

Christianity Today, January, 2006, John Wilson, review of Worst Cases, p. 72.

DePaul Law Review, summer, 1991, Paulette L. Stenzel, review of Acceptable Risk?, p. 1165.

Human Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal, March, 1990, Daniel G. Bates, review of Acceptable Risk?, p. 133.

Journal of American Culture, September, 2006, Arthur G. Neal, review of Worst Cases, p. 392.

Journal of Economic Literature, December, 1992, review of Acceptable Risk?, p. 2284.

Law & Society Review, February, 1990, James F. Short, review of Acceptable Risk?, p. 179.

New Scientist, August 12, 1989, Martin Ince, review of Acceptable Risk?, p. 57.

Public Administration, December, 2007, Kevin Quigley, review of Worst Cases, p. 1172.

Public Administration Review, November 1, 1989, Bernard H. Ross, review of Acceptable Risk?, p. 569.

Social Forces, March, 1990, Anthony E. Ladd, review of Acceptable Risk?, p. 977.

Urban Lawyer, winter, 1990, Kristin Meyer, review of Acceptable Risk?, p. 177; winter, 2000, S. Jane Cecil, review of Acceptable Risk?, p. 178.

ONLINE

Department of Sociology, Rutgers University Web site,http://sociology.rutgers.edu/ (March 13, 2008), author profile.

Lee Clarke Home Page,http://leeclarke.com (March 13, 2008), author profile.

Mental Help Net,http://www.mentalhelp.net/ (November 14, 2006), Kem Crimmins, review of Worst Cases.

University of Chicago Press Web site,http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ (March 13, 2008), author interview.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Center of Biosecurity Web site,http://www.upmc-biosecurity.org/ (March 20, 2003), Claudia Dreifus, author interview.

Worst Cases Web site,http://www.worstcases.com (March 13, 2008).

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