Research & Publications


In all of my projects I investigate how social contexts, social categories and social structures of power and hierarchies shape human behavior and how human behavior and human interactions reshape social contexts, social categories and social structures.  I focus these general investigations around migration, gender, family, demographics and ecological well-being in Southeast Asia and the U.S.  My methodological approaches include quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods, and program evaluation.

Current projects are found below and you can also review my publications on my c.v.

Global Studies as Research Challenge

In this project, I am interested in advancing how we understand the complexities of social institutions, organizations and relations from a global perspective.  The project is anchored by my role as section editor of the new journal, Global Perspectives.

  • Curran, Sara R. Section Editor. Social Institutions, Organizations and RelationsGlobal Perspectives, University of California Press.
  • Curran, Sara R. “Global Studies versus International Studies.” Oxford Handbook of Global Studies. Oxford Handbooks Online. Edited by Mark Jurgensmeyer, Saskia Sassen, Manfred Steger. Oxford University Press. December 2018.

Bridging the Gap: Cybersecurity Policy & Technology Insights

In this project, I collaborate with Dr. Jessica Beyer, Jackson School undergraduate and graduate students, along with a working group of colleagues from Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER).  This project is funded by the Carnegie Corporation and the Jackson Foundation.

Universal Access: Development of a Comprehensive Measurement (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

This project is an investment in research for programmatic action.  The investment has three major aims.  (1) The first is to develop a conceptual framework and operational model for evaluating parameters in a macro-micro model of fertility declines and family planning behavior and inform our understanding of the pathways to universal access. (2) The second is to operationalize empirical evaluations of all components of the conceptual model. (3) The third is to build a thought partnership between the foundation and UW CSDE that reinvigorates social science research about fertility decline and contraception transitions, providing research for programmatic action for foundation staff.

This project is in collaboration with Charles Hirschman and Sociology and Demography graduate students Maria Vignau Loria and Xinguang Fan.

Demographic Dynamics and Development Transformations

This project includes a book proposal and several papers that examine how mortality, fertility and migration transitions are influenced by development transformations and, in turn, influence development outcomes.  Current collaborators: Michelle O’Brien (Postdoctoral Fellow, Ohio State University), XInguang Fan (Graduate Student, Sociology, UW), Giovanna Merli (Duke University), and Kim Korinek (University of Utah).

  • Curran, Sara R. & Kim Korinek. “Accounting for Migrant Selectivity in a Context of Growing Heterogeneity.” Annual Review of Sociology. 45. Invited, Accepted & Forthcoming 2020.
  • Merli, Giovanna, Sara R. Curran, and Claire Le Barbenchon. “Demography and Networks.” Oxford Handbook of Social Networks. Oxford Handbooks Online.  Edited by James Moody and Ryan Light.  Oxford University Press.  2019.
  • Lui, Lake & Sara R. Curran. Under Review. ““I Wish I Were a Plumber!”: Transnational Middle Class Re-Construction Among Hong Kong Emigrants, Returnees, and Non-Migrants” Sociology. (submitted Nov. 20, 2019)
  • I recently published a review for The Sociology of Development Handbook (Berkeley, CA: UC Press) that examines how migration and development relate to each other from a theoretical and empirical perspective.  “Migration and Development: Virtuous and Vicious Cycles” in Hooks, Gregory (editor) The Sociology of Development Handbook. Berkeley, CA: UC Press. pp. 311-339.
  • As part of that project, Dr. Meijer-Irons and I published “Economic Shock and Migration: Differential Economic Effects, Migrant Responses, and Migrant Cumulative Causation in Thailand.” 2016. Sociology of Development. 2 (2).

Climate Change and Migration

This project examines how temporal and spatial measurement variability in climate and weather differently influences migration outcomes.  Careful attention to measurement reveals how responsive humans are to climate change.  Current collaborators on this project are Dr. Matthew Dunbar (PhD, Geography), Dr. Elizabeth Fussell (Brown University), and Dr. Luanne Thomson (University of Washington).

  • Fussell, Beth, Sara R. Curran, Matthew Dunbar, Mike Babb, Jacqueline Meijer-Irons & Luanne Thomson. “Weather-Related Hazards and Population Change in the U.S., 1980-2012.” Annals of American Political and Social Science. 2017.
  • Curran, Sara. “Migration and Environment.” Contributing Author to IPBES’ forthcoming Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services” For which here is The Global Assessment citation:  IPBES 2019. The assessment report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services on Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. 2019.