Associate Professor and co-Director of PACE


Sarah Surak, Ph.D.

Office: Fulton Hall 280F
Telephone: 410-677-3879.

Bio Information

Portrait of Sarah Surak

Sarah Surak (Associate professor) holds a joint appointment in the Departments of Political Science and Environmental Studies at Salisbury University. She received her BA in political science (2003) and Masters of Public Administration (2006) from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Ph.D. in Planning, Governance and Globalization from Virginia Tech (2012). Her teaching and research interests include civic engagement, environmental policy and political theory, public administration, and modern political and social theory. Dr. Surak's work has appeared in a variety of journals including New Political Science, Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, and Administrative Theory & Praxis. Her book, Governing Waste: Politics, Process, and Public Administration (expected Routledge 2019), assesses the practices of sustainability and waste management by municipal authorities.

Dr. Surak also co-Directs Salisbury University's Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement. With her colleague, Dr. Alexander (Sandy) Pope, she oversees daily operations as well as coordinates a multi-year research project to collect and analyze data on the delivery of a civic engagement curricular and co-curricular programming.

In addition to her domestic focus, Dr. Surak engages in comparative environmental policy analysis and lectures extensively in Germany, where her research is focused. Dr. Surak remains grounded in the local community, and was recently recognized by the Mayor of Salisbury for her support of city recycling initiatives, including coordination of the City's "zero waste" efforts at the upcoming National Folk Festival.


Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
  • Ph.D. Planning, Governance, and Globalization, 2012
  • Dissertation: "Bringing in the Garbage: Opening a Critical Space for Vehicle Disposal Practices"
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • MPA Public Administration, 2006
    Concentration: Environmental Policy
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville summa cum laude
  • BA Political Science, 2003

Professional History

  • 2017 - present Associate Professor of Political Science and Environmental Studies, Salisbury University
  • 2015 - present Co-Director, Institute for Public affairs and Civic Engagement, Salisbury University
  • 2012 - 2017 Assistant Professor of Political Science and Environmental Studies, Salisbury University
  • 2008 - 2012 Graduate Teaching Assistant (instructor of record), Virginia Tech, Department of Political Science
  • 2009 - 2012 Sustainability Consultant, Department of Facilities Services, Virginia Tech
  • 2008 - 2012 Sustainability Consultant, Department of Facilities Services, University of Tennessee
  • 2005 - 2008 Sustainability and Public Relations Manager, University of Tennessee
  • 2003 - 2005 Recycling Coordinator, University of Tennessee

Areas of Interest

  • Environmental policy
  • Public policy
  • Environmental political theory
  • Public administration
  • Civic engagement
  • Modern political and social theory
  • Discard studies

Honors and Awards

  • 2018 Fulton School of Liberal Arts Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • 2018 City of Salisbury Proclamation for public service
  • 2014 Fulton School Award for Outstanding Faculty Contributions to the Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement, Salisbury University
  • 2013 Richard E. Zody Award for Outstanding Dissertation in Planning, Governance, and Globalization, Virginia Tech
  • 2012 Best Dissertation, Government and International Affairs Founding Faculty Award, Virginia Tech
  • 2010 Fellowship Recipient International Research Experience Program (IREP), Institut für Politikwissenschaft, Technische Universit├Ąt, Darmstadt, Germany
  • 2008-2012 Cunningham Doctoral Scholar, Virginia Tec
  • 2003 Torchbearer Award, University of Tennessee

Selected Publications - Peer Reviewed

Selected Publications - Publication co-Editor

  • (2017) Kirsch, R, and Surak, S (eds). "Marcuse in the Twenty-First Century: Radical Politics, Critical Theory, and Revolutionary Praxis Introduction.": 455-464.
  • (2017) Jensen, P.E., S. Surak and C. Reitzs (Eds). Transvaluation of Values & Radical Change: Five Lectures, 1966-1976. Limited-edition publication.

Editorial Positions

  • Reviews Editor: New Political Science: A Journal of Politics and Culture
  • Editorial Board Member: Administrative Theory & Praxis

Selected Professional Service

  • Chair of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Salisbury University
  • Secretary, The Caucus for a New Political Science (section of the American Political Science Association)
  • Board member, Public Administration Theory Network
  • Board member of the International Herbert Marcuse Society (since 2015)

Courses Taught

  • Environmental policy: Global Environmental Issues, Environmental Politics and Policy, Sustainable Human Communities
  • American Government: Introduction to Politics and Government, American Government: Introduction to American Government, United States Public Policy Process, Public Administration
  • Comparative Politics: Introduction to Comparative Government and Politics, the Politics of Climate Change
  • Environmental Studies/Interdisciplinary Studies: Environment and Society: Methods and Analysis, Garbage and Everyday Life, The Environment and Social Practice, Senior Seminar
  • Political Theory: Utopian Political Theory, Radical Political Theory
  • Interdisciplinary Team Teaching: Race and Identity in the United States, Democracy Across the Disciplines, Interrogating Inequality: Social and Environmental Sustainability in the 21st Century, Food Systems and Sustainability, Climate Change and Sustainability