Let the memory of Bill be with us forever
  • 59 years old
  • Born on November 2, 1951 in Madison, Nebraska, United States.
  • Passed away on December 28, 2010 .

On December 28, 2010 William R. Freudenburg, Ph.D. succumbed to bile duct cancer at his Santa Barbara, California home.  He was a beloeved son, brother, husband, father, colleague and friend as well as a world renownned environmental sociologist and social theorist best known for his work in rural sociology on the topics of risk perception, social disruption, and the causes of environmental degradation. 

This website is dedicated in loving memory of Bill.  Please feel free to leave a tribute below or your favorite story or memory by visiting the Stories page.  Learn more about Dr. Freudenburg by visiting the His Life page, Wikipedia, or reading below.


• Januay, 2014: An impressive volume of articles dedicated to the legacy of William Freudenburg was published in the Journal of Research in Social Problems and Public Policy.  Volume 21 is titled: William R. Freudenburg, A Life in Social Research (ISBN: 978-1-78190-734-4). One essay is titled: The Sociological Imagination Personified: Reflections on the LiFe, Scholarly Contributions, and Professional Accomplishments of William R. Freudenburg. by Riley E. Dunlap. Visit Emerald Publishing to access, review and/or purchase a copy.

• May, 2013: A Tribute to William R. Freudenburg was published in Society & Natural Resources, An International Journal, Volume 26, Issue 6, 2013, edited by Tom Beckley and Troy Hall.

• September, 2012:  Release of Bill's textbook titled "Humans in the Landscape: An introduction to Environmental Studies."  Co-authroed by Kai N. Lee and Richard Howarth, this is the first textbook to fully synthesize all key aspects of environmental studies. Check it out on W.W. Norton and Company's website.

April 2012:  Journal of Environmental Studies and Science (JESS) released a special issue dedicated Bill's lifelong work: The Legacy of William R. Freudenburg (Volume 2, Number 1/March 2012). Access this volume and associated articles about Bill by clicking here.

A tribute titled "William Freudenburg: An Intellectual and Professional Biography" by Riley Dunnlap and Debra Davidson was published in Volume 21, Issue 2 of the Rural Sociologist in June 2011 (download .pdf copy here).

Read a transcript of an oral history interview done with Bill by Professor Dana Fisher.  Offers a rich understanding of Bill's work and the evolution of environmental sociology in general.  The paper was presented at the American Sociology Society's (ASA) 2011 Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.  http://www.envirosoc.org/freudenburg_history.pdf

Professor Freudenburg's complete Curriculum Vitae (CV) is now available online and may be downloaded from UCSB's Environmental Studies Program webiste or by clicking here (.pdf).

An online video website featuring Dr. Freudenburg offers numerous videos about Bill, including:
   • "Bill in His Own Words" (interview of Bill done in November, 2010)
   • "The Legacy of Bill Freudenburg" (tributes from colleagues)
   • Blowout in the Gulf talk (November, 2010 lecture by Bill on his latest book)
   • 12 class lectures by Bill, part of his "Intro to Environmental Studies"
       course (fall quarter, 2010)
 Watching all videos for free at:

In May, 2011 Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker was selected for the inaugural William Freudenburg Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS). Read more about Dr. Tucker, AESS, and the Freudenburg Lifetime Achievement award at: http://aess.info/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=939971&module_id=97555

Visit the Freudenfest website to view a wonderful compilation of images of Bill as well as presentations given by colleagues addressing his amazing scholarly accomplishments. Freudenfest was a daylong collaborative discussion and celebration, held at UCSB in November, 2011, of Dr. Freudenburg's contributions to sociology, environmental studies, and society.  http://es.ucsb.edu/news/freudenfest

Posted by Riley Dunlap on 2nd November 2018
Well, yet another year flew by Bill, and I've "retired" and am settling into a new home in Tulsa where Christina found a good job. I hope to keep publishing regularly, and help keep our field of Environmental Sociology going strong--which it certainly is. As I noted last year, your work continues to be drawn upon by a wide range of scholars, and "disproportionality" is especially stimulating a good deal of work. So your ideas and spirit clearly live on. Miss you. Riley
Posted by Riley Dunlap on 2nd November 2017
Bill, Another year has zoomed by. Environmental Sociology is going stronger than ever, and your work continues to be a key part of our field. You are missed, and fondly remembered by our colleagues--and certainly by me. Riley
Posted by Christine Shearer on 7th January 2017
Hi Bill, Well, there are plenty of days I still wish you were around to give me advice and insight on how to navigate the world between the social and environmental/earth sciences. And I think you'd have so many brilliant, witty things to say regarding what is happening right now - interesting times! You are missed greatly, but the influences of your work carry on in multiple areas and ways, and that is what science is about - immortality! haha. By the way, I'll never forget that you went to my PhD graduation, even when ill. Thanks Bill for everything.
Posted by Cheryl Hutton on 3rd November 2016
Dear Bill, Every morning when I'm opening the Environmental Studies conference room I look at your portrait hanging in your library collection and send a good morning greetings and let you know how things are going. We miss you and your passion. We need more hero's to champion the environment like you did. Please send us a bunch.
Posted by Riley Dunlap on 2nd November 2016
Hi Bill, Another year has gone by, but things are going well for your legacy and for our beloved field of Environmental Sociology. Your "disproportionality" thesis is stimulating more and more strong research, confirming your initial findings, and may prove to be the most widely used of your numerous great ideas. I met a bright young U.S. environmental sociologist at a little conference I co-organized in Sweden last week, one who is pretty much self-trained in our field. He remarked that "I keep finding more great work by Bill Freudenburg the more I delve into environmental sociology." I promised to send him you final vita, and I'm about to do that. And you'll also be pleased to know that Env Soc is growing in stature and moving into the mainstream, thanks in part to the attention being given to climate change. More and more work is being published in "elite" journals, following the path that you paved. So please know, my dear friend, that your insights continue to inspire other scholars, at an escalating pace, and thereby strengthen our field. Miss you greatly, Riley
Posted by Katey Simetra on 25th September 2016
I’ve been thinking about Bill today, perhaps because we both would have turned 65 on November 2 this year, and I’ve been reflecting deeply and regularly on the health and well being of Nature, trees and water particularly, and the indigenous tribes that have joined together in North Dakota to take a stand to protect the water. I stand in solidarity with all who are there, as Protectors. Although “retired,” I’ve been involved as a citizen with two groups to protect the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State from naval warfare practices involving noise-invasive growler jets and a electronic warfare range, all which impact wildlife, beautiful lands, some “protected” as a national park and national forests, and communities around the Peninsula, Whidbey Island, the San Juans, and other nearby areas. I witness the impacts of climate change, each year showing us more. I learn continually from Nature, as my spiritual path is deeply aligned with Nature. So, it’s not surprising that I’d think of Bill with this combination of environmental-social protection and concern for justice, Nature stewardship, spirituality and the ways of Nature, and our mutual birthdays. So, although it’s more than a month until this next birthday, I honor Bill yet again, as my friend and birthday twin, and his tremendous legacy professionally and personally. Bill: Warm, spiritual blessings to you, my friend, as you continue your own journey, and heartfelt blessings to those you touched near and far… I miss your lively spirit in this world still, yet I know your spirit and heart live on within all of us you touched, including Mother Nature… With gratitude, love, and peace... Katey
Posted by Riley Dunlap on 6th November 2015
Bill, I just got back from Japan where I spoke at the 5th International Symposium on Environmental Sociology in East Asia, and one of the papers presented by a Chinese scholar was based on your "double diversion" argument. So my dear friend, your work is not only alive and well (and getting lots of attention) here in the US, but is spreading internationally. Also, the ASA Task Force volume, Climate Change and Society: Sociological Perspectives, was finally published by Oxford and is an official ASA publication. I sure wish you were here to help me celebrate, but I appreciated your insights when we launched the Task Force. I think of you often, and miss you greatly. Riley
Posted by Jim Freudenburg on 2nd November 2015
Happy Birthday, Lieber Bruder! Hard to believe you would be 64 today. If you and dad could possibly pull a few strings up there, our beloved Huskers could sure use some intervention! Miss you always. Jim
Posted by Cheryl Hutton on 2nd November 2015
Bill, I played a very small part in your life here at the University but you seem to relate to people with special clarity. I want you to know I'm still using and I am still inspired by the password you gave me. We miss you and think of you often.
Posted by Diane Venden on 28th December 2014
Four years have gone by...your light continues to shine and inspire. But we who love you miss your smile & friendship so very much. My love & thoughts are with Sarah & Max today...
Posted by Riley Dunlap on 2nd November 2014
Bill, I think of you often, and miss you very much, as do so many of our colleagues. I've continued our tradition of organizing group dinners for ETS members at ASA meetings, and they're very successful--and a tribute to the warm and inviting atmosphere you played a key role in establishing within the Section. With two journal symposia and the RSPPP volume dedicated to your work now in print, you can be assured that your ideas continue to get a great deal of attention. Rest in peace my dear friend, Riley
Posted by Diane Venden on 3rd November 2013
The picture of you on my wall puts a smile on my face every time--your smile is that contagious, it spans the distance between us even now. Always in my heart, sweet man and good friend. Here at UW we miss you still and speak of you often when we gather. I'm so thankful our lives crossed paths, Bill!
Posted by Diane Venden on 2nd November 2012
Remembering you especially on your birthday. If only I was choosing a witty card for your enjoyment! Always in my heart, Bill, the best "boss" ever.
Posted by Barbara Haley on 31st July 2012
Bill left us much, much too soon. May his spirit live on!
Posted by Diane Venden on 28th December 2011
One year ago today, rocks fell from the mountaintop and stopped us in our tracks. One year ago today, my best friend couldn't tell me the tragic news, she had to pass the phone to a friend who could. Just one year to show us that life goes on, though with less volume and one less hero. Thank you, Bill, for the mountain of great memories!
Posted by Lindsay Kircher on 1st June 2011
Bill's passion for ES & talent for teaching & inspiring others never ceased to amaze me. His words-"The most that any of us can hope for is to make a positive difference with others, and possibly to leave the world a tiny bit better than we found it
Posted by Beth Parke on 26th April 2011
The Spring 2011 SEJournal, (Society of Environmental Journalists), offers a remembrance written by Roger Witherspoon, along with a brilliant essay by Bill. You can read it here: http://www.sej.org/publications/sejournal/remembering-bill-freudenberg
Posted by Eric Zimmerman on 26th April 2011
Re: Beth Parke's post about SEJournal articles: to view them you may need to go to the Journal website itself at: http://www.sej.org and do a search for "Remembering Bill Freudenburg" and "Robbing Nature's Bank." Some experience an error when copyin
Posted by Mira Dorrance-Bird on 25th February 2011
I am so grateful to have had the chance to learn from Professor Freudenburg. The level of respect I have for him is beyond what I am able to express. I will always regret not thanking him personally for teaching me more in 10 weeks than I have learned in the course of my entire education, and inspiring me in the same fashion. Here's to a tremendous human being... Thank you, Bill!
Posted by Angela Mertig on 31st January 2011
Bill, thank you for your collegiality and support. Your positive energy, overt friendliness, sense of humor and wisdom will be sorely missed. You are a true scholar and mensch.
Posted by Jessica Guzman on 22nd January 2011
To all those Professor Freudenburg touched they are so lucky to have met him. I first had the pleasure of taking his class as a freshman at UCSB. His ES 1 class inspired me more than any other class ever has done. Thank you so much for all the amazing things you did during your short stay on this planet. You will not be disappointed in all the work that your students continue to do in your honor.
Posted by Dani Bobrowske on 21st January 2011
I was lucky enough to have Bill Freudenburg as my Professor. I have never been so inspired by any other teacher; Bill's passion shined through everything he taught. I am so grateful to have known and and been a student of Professor Freudenburg. He will always be in my heart.
Posted by Marc McGinnes on 19th January 2011
It was a blessing to be in the presence of and in community with this truly lovely man. Bill was on fire and he loved being on fire and he was a master at helping others come alight. Who can ever forget his wide-eyed embrace, calling you to yourself and to the joy of the work and play at hand. I nominate Bill as a Saint of our community. I can hear him laughing at the thought,
Posted by Eric Zimmerman on 16th January 2011
From: Mrs. Glenda Graves from West Point: Bill certainly achieved much during his earthly life! I will always remember lifeguarding with him at Indian Trails, and he and Randy 'making music' out in our barn!
Posted by Eric Zimmerman on 16th January 2011
From Mary Becker Boston: My memories of Bill are from when we were in high school. He was very friendly and so very, very intelligent! He was also so musically talented that my husband Earl and I asked Bill to sing for our wedding. He did a fabulous job! After reading his obituary, I see what a full and wonderful life he had. I hope that there is someone to carry on his great legacy.
Posted by Eric Zimmerman on 16th January 2011
From Greg and Mary Lubisher: I feel privileged to have known Bill and wish I knew him even better. I will miss the talks we had over crops, weather, and the Cornhuskers. When it came to crop prices we would usually have an argument over who did the worse job of marketing. In the end, we would usually console each other and vow to do better next time. What a neat person he was, and to talk to!
Posted by Eric Zimmerman on 16th January 2011
From: Cousin Judy from Iowa: Bill was a really great guy! I remember he would always be so excited to go on the wagon rides on our farm. He would always bring us Mad Magazines and comic books. It was always such fun when you would come visit! Even though he was older than me, he was always really nice and had a great sense of humor. We will all miss him.
Posted by Nan Johnson on 15th January 2011
Colleague Bill, I have always appreciated your sense of humor and your intelligence. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your mentorship.
Posted by Ernst Von Weizsaecker on 12th January 2011
Bill knew that conserving the environment requires a change of politics. And that in a country where you can make a political career by spitting at politics. He was one of my best friends during my three years of service for the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. Ernst von Weizsaecker
Posted by Kathryn Slama on 11th January 2011
Professor Freudenburg is the reason I am pursuing my masters degree in an environmental field. Having him throughout my time at UCSB made my experience that much more memorable. He had a passion for his work and a genuine interest in all of his students. myself and all other ES students owe it to him. We will continue your work professor! Here's to you
Posted by Wolfgang Schluchter on 10th January 2011
I remember many conversations and discussions with Bill Freudenburg and I would like hereby to say him thanks for the depth and humanity of the exchange of knowledge and experience. Thank you, Bill.
Posted by Noëlle Boucquey on 10th January 2011
I will never forget Bill Freudenburg's excellent and challenging courses, great sense of humor and caring attitude toward his students. In Bill's classes, we didn't shy away from difficult authors, we had great discussions, and Bill would join us for pizza after class. It was a wonderful way to learn. Bill was also instrumental in helping me get into graduate school. Thank you for everything Bill!
Posted by Flora Wang on 9th January 2011
Bill---my distinguished colleague---I’d like to express my heartfelt respect to you. Your vivid lectures, profound erudition, teaching skills really benefited me a lot. Thanks a lot for the great opportunity you providing me to work with you at UCSB. I will always remember your passion on environmental sociology, your smile, humor, kindness, friendship…….Rest in peace, my dear friend.
Posted by Jang Heo on 6th January 2011
I came to be one of many lucky students of him since 1994 when Bill was in Madison, Wisconsin. He was so gentle, humorous, kind, and warm-hearted to my family from Korea as well as giving many precious comments on my doctoral thesis. I cannot forget the most pleasant dinner with his family at a restaurant in Santa Barbara. Rest in peace, my dear advisor...
Posted by Diane Venden on 6th January 2011
Bill, We were a real "team" at the Dept. of Rural Sociology at UW-Madison. We were extremely busy but always the humor and friendship. You brought me tiger lilies from your ditch at home which to me were roses. My heart is broken; memories will stay with me forever. Diane "best secretary of all time" 1991
Posted by Erinn O'Shea on 6th January 2011
Bill inspired us all to live each day vibrantly, joyfully, and with much humor. He demonstrated these qualities to the very end. What an exquisite role model we were blessed with!
Posted by Lauren Davis on 6th January 2011
Prof. Freudenburg was one of the most compassionate and inspiring professors I had during my time at UCSB. I took ES1 with him the first quarter of my freshman year and his freshman seminar. For the next 4 years, I was so touched that he always took the time to say hello when I ran into him on campus, always remembering my name and our connection. I feel so lucky that I learned from him.
Posted by Alisha Dahlstrom on 6th January 2011
Among a unique and wonderful ES department, Bill was a wonderful guide and inspiration. Some of the best and lasting lessons I took from UCSB were learned in his classes, lessons I think about in life and that are guiding my time at grad school. And always so kind, despite my persistant knocking at his door. I am lucky to have had a chance to learn from one of the greats. Will always remember you.
Posted by Shelly Barnes on 6th January 2011
As my advisor for my undergraduate thesis, Bill would ask on a weekly basis if I was still rearranging my pencils. Little did I know, that having your pencils in a row is a very important part of any writing process. Bill, your humor and passion will be greatly missed.
Posted by Nancy Minick on 5th January 2011
Bill, I didn't know you very long or very well, but I so enjoyed your company. I miss your (sometimes) wicked sense of humor and your ever present smile. Peaceful journey.
Posted by Katia Baumgartner on 5th January 2011
Thank you for your kindness, passion, humanity...you were trully a great man.... God bless you and your family
Posted by David Sai-ngarm on 5th January 2011
Professor Freudenberg could make the world of bleak and grey into blue and green again, for lost souls stuck to the slick of oil- he was acetone. For those in the slip of acerbic melancholy, he was harmony, he was melody. Long live his lectures, long live his voice, may mankind make its stand in the waves and likes of him...
Posted by Anonymous Bugoff on 5th January 2011
Professor Freudenberg, you are the reason I chose to major in ES and therefore you changed my life. Thank you so much for your light. You resonated with passion for your students for the world, and you even made me tear up on the last day of class. I hope your son reads this and remembers the impact his father had- a massive, loving ripple through the world. Safe passage <3
Posted by Sarah Lang on 5th January 2011
I am sorry to hear the sad news. I am an ES graduate from 2009 and now I am about to begin my master's thesis on the double diversion in a few weeks...Professor Freudenburg loved the idea when I emailed him for advice about it, I'm sorry he won't be around to read it, but I'll work extra hard on it to make him proud! thanks for all the inspiration Professor
Posted by Patti Freudenburg on 5th January 2011
"BBB" -- Big Brother Bill -- thanks for the wisdom, the joy and the humor you brought to our lives! And students -- thank you for sharing a side of Bill's world that the family didn't often have a chance to see. "LSP" ..... little sister Pat
Posted by Norah Duffy on 5th January 2011
Bill Freudenburg was one of the kindest and most approachable professors I had in my time at UCSB. I feel fortunate to have taken ES1 honors my first year, where he inspired me to think deeply about and challenge many things I accepted as a normal part of life. I will always remember the picture he showed of a $2.50 bottle of Evian water next to the tap in his hotel! Rest in Peace Professor
Posted by Eric Zimmerman on 4th January 2011
Bill, your smile, wit, passion, humor and friendship will never be forgotten. Your friend forever!
Posted by Matt Gilliland on 4th January 2011
Professor Freudenburg reaffirmed my passion for environmental studies with his incredible Env S. 1 class. He would lecture for an hour and ten minutes, and then in the last five he would make his point, effectively turning my and every other students' world upside down. To this day he is still the only Professor I have had who received applause and ovations after every single one of his lectures.
Posted by Kylee Wilkins on 4th January 2011
Best professor I've ever had. His passion for his work brought me to tears some lectures. I am so thankful for being able to hear him speak. I believe many of his students will never forget his words and go on to change the world they way he would have hoped. You will be missed
Posted by Jennifer Michels on 4th January 2011
I was a student of Bill's in 2006. I wrote him an email at the end of the quarter letting him know how much I enjoyed his class and he wrote back this, Thanks very much --It's working with positive students like you that convinces me I happen to have the best job in the world. All the best -- Professor Bill

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