Office: Rankin 101A
I am primarily interested in social change with respect to environmental problems and sustainability. Much of my work focuses on the impacts of the conventional agriculture and food system and on local, sustainable alternatives to that system. I am also interested in the history and practice of the environmental movement, civic engagement, sustainable communities, ecological design, toxics, and feminist perspectives. I use and teach social qualitative research methods and participatory action research.
Since joining the UM faculty in 2000, I have helped create an empahasis on sustainable food and farming systems within Environmental Studies. I work with many EVST students on projects related to building a more secure, local food system in Montana. I try to provide opportunities for students to learn-by-doing and to contribute to the community in the process. For more about my approach to teaching, see: https://www.umt.edu/cte/newsletter/March2006/Mar06pg3.htm.
For instance, EVST students and I have been involved in the nationally-recognized Farm to College Program at the University Dining Services since its inception in 2003. In 2006, ten graduate students and I completed a study of the economic, social, and transportation-related impacts of Farm to College. That project was done in partnership with Grow Montana, a statewide coalition; see: http://www.growmontana.ncat.org/.
During 2002-2004, I co-facilitated a Community Food Assessment for Missoula County. This comprehensive study of our local food system was guided by a 15 member committee of people from the community; over 50 students were involved in the research process. The CFA led to the creation of a broad-based, food policy council called the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition. I am actively involved in CFAC, along with several students. See: www.missoulacfac.org.
I have worked with Josh Slotnick to create a permanent home for the PEAS farm at the UM. Through PEAS, students grow tens of thousands of pounds of organic vegetables each year for the Missoula Food Bank and other citizens. This collaboration with Garden City Harvest was awarded the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Award for Campus-Community Parternerships in 2004, the first time it was given in Montana.
My scholarship has focused on these same themes. I have published: Changing the Way America Farms: Knowledge and Community in the Sustainable Agriculture Movement (University of Nebraska Press, 1999). That book traces how alternative farmers in two organizations, the Ocooch Grazers Network and the Wisconsin Women's Sustainable Farming Network, have exchanged their own personal, local knowledge as a basis for moving toward an agricultural system that is ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially just agriculture.
My more recent scholarship focuses on the concept on "food democracy," the idea that people can and should actively participate in shaping the food system, rather than remain passive consumers on the sidelines. Food democracy is about citizens, not multinational corporations, having the power to determine agri-food policies and practices locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.
For many years, I have worked both professionally and as a volunteer for non-profit organizations. From 1997-2000, I coordinated a broad-based effort to pass a landmark law securing the public's right to know about pesticide use in Oregon for the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides. I worked for the Northern Plains Resource Council as an organizer and lobbyist from 1989-1992. I am currently active in the Alternative Energy Resources Organization, an organization that promotes local food systems and sustainability in Montana, and students often become involved in AERO as well; see: http://www.aeromt.org/.
All of my degrees are in Environmental Studies, with my BA from St. Lawrence University, my MS from the University of Oregon, and my PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Field Of Study:
Although my academic training has been interdisciplinary, my primary field is agricultural and rural sociology. My work focuses on contemporary food systems, with a particular emphasis on alternative agriculture and local food.
EVST/SOC 225 – Community and Environment
EVST 450 – Food, Agriculture, and the Environment
EVST 495 – Women, Environment, and Social Change
EVST 520 – Environmental Organizing
EVST/SOC 555 – Research Methods for Social Change
EVST 594 – The Politics of Food
EVST 594 – Assessing the Food System
During my free time, I like to hike, garden, hunt mushrooms, practice yoga, canoe, backpack, and cross-country ski.
Ph.D., Land Resources, Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin - Madison
M.S., Environmental Studies Program, University of Oregon
B.A., Environmental Studies and Government, St. Lawrence University
In addition to my academic experience, I worked for many years in the non-profit sector. I was a community organizer and lobbyist for the Northern Plains Resource Council in the early 1990s. In the late 1990s, I worked for the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides in Eugene, Oregon.