CLA Welcomes Globalization Specialist to Faculty This Fall

December 21, 2020

""An expert in global political economy, political ecology and social theory, Dr. Roberto Ortiz applies a world-historical perspective to global capitalism that examines long-term trends and large-scale historical changes. He develops explanations that seek to clarify questions surrounding oil-fueled growth and globalization.

This fall, Dr. Ortiz will bring that expertise to CSULB when he joins the College of Liberal Arts as an assistant professor of sociology. He says that CSULB’s diverse student body and energetic faculty drew him to the campus.

“Having students from different backgrounds is something that, in my experience, enriches the teaching processes,” he says. “It brings important nuances, marginalized experiences and different interpretations that may be lost in other educational contexts. I have a sense that this enrichment via diversity is present at CSULB. ”  

Dr. Ortiz will be teaching Classical Sociological Theory and Sociology of Globalization classes in the fall. One of his main goals is to help students understand the complex socio-historical causes of the crises they are currently living through.

“This generation of students will be confronting a world that is much more turbulent than the one I experienced after finishing my undergraduate degree in 2008,” he says. “I want to provide them with skills and tools that they can actually use to be successful in this new world, whether they decide to navigate it to find their place in it, or navigate it while also changing it via their activism.”

Focusing on the relationship between capitalism and fossil fuels, Dr. Ortiz brings a critical lens to some of the most pressing environmental issues facing the world today. Dr. Kristine Zentgraf, chair of the sociology department at CSULB, says Dr. Ortiz has demonstrated academic excellence and a commitment to student engagement and learning.

“Dr. Ortiz’s ​academic expertise will enrich the department’s global curriculum by providing a theoretical lens to global capitalism and environmental studies,” Zentgraf says. “Students will undoubtedly be drawn to Dr. Ortiz’s passion, dedication to student success and ability to communicate and apply complex ideas and nuanced theoretical understandings to our contemporary world.”

Before joining the faculty at CSULB, Dr. Ortiz was an instructor at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he taught courses in sociology, Latin American and Caribbean area studies and human rights programs. Dr. Ortiz says he enjoys how sociology as a discipline makes people think differently about issues they already feel strongly about.

“My concern has mainly been with global inequality: with its root causes, its historical transformations, and its consequences,” he says. “For me, sociology provided the most comprehensive questions and answers to these issues.”

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Dr. Ortiz began his academic career at the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in education and history. After a few years of teaching at the middle school and high school levels in Puerto Rico, he relocated to New York, where he obtained both a master’s degree and doctorate in sociology from Binghamton University.

In 2017, Dr. Ortiz received the Graduate Student Paper Award from the American Sociological Association’s Marxist Section. This award recognizes the best paper written by a graduate student that deals with a sociological issue from a Marxist perspective. In recognition of his research and accomplishments in the graduate program at Binghamton University, he received the Graduate Student Excellence Award for Excellence in Research in 2018.

As part of his ongoing research, Dr. Ortiz has two projects forthcoming that continue to examine globalization issues through a world-historical perspective. His first project seeks to unpack the historical and socio-ecological processes that link the global oil industry to Global North-Global South inequalities and to the climate crisis.

“Ultimately, I am researching the extent to which recent socio-ecological and economic crises might be the result of our oil-fueled global economic system,” he says.

  This research is a long-term project that has already resulted in various peer-reviewed articles, most notably “Agro-Industrialization, Petrodollar Illusions and the Transformation of the Capitalist World Economy in the 1970s: The Latin American Experience,” which appeared in Critical Sociology. His current article “Oil-Fueled Accumulation in Late Capitalism: Energy, Uneven Development and Climate Crisis” is forthcoming in Critical Historical Studies.       

His second ongoing research project focuses on whether capitalist globalization has transformed Global North-Global South relations and looks at the environmental consequences of important globalization trends, such as increasing foreign direct investment and rising global competition for mobile capital. His current manuscript “Late Capitalism Unbound: Globalization, Competition and the Ecology of Uneven Development” will be submitted to a peer-review journal later this year.    

Profile story by Kevin Bollman