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Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences

Christopher Bacon

Christopher Bacon
Associate Professor

PhD, 2005, University of California, Santa Cruz

As an environmental social scientist, I am interested in deepening and diversifying a dialogue about interdependent society-nature relationships. This work is informed by formal training in environmental studies, the wisdom of practical teachers, insight from marginal communities, student curiosity, and concepts from geography, economics, sociology and agroecology.

Several ongoing collaborations with colleagues contribute to an evolving participatory action research agenda that addresses issues of agricultural and environmental governance, sustainability, and social equity. Much of my research compares alternative and conventional food systems, using coffee as an extended case study. A trio of evaluative concepts, including livelihood vulnerabilities (especially hunger and food insecurity), agro-biodiversity conservation and gendered empowerment are useful for interpreting the field research results. These outcomes connect to global food regulation through recent work studying value chain governance, certifications, and standards-setting processes. Future research projects will address environmental and food justice in California.

In our courses, we will listen to diverse voices, consider contemporary case studies, and review relevant theories. These courses often take a political-economic approach to study the root and proximate causes that frame pressing environmental problems and potential solutions. Learners will develop research, collaboration, and analytic skills.

My scholarship as an environmental social scientist and political ecologist is grounded in long-term partnerships in the Americas that focus on:
- Sustainable food systems, agroecology, food security, and food sovereignty
- Livelihood vulnerability, resilience, and local institutions 
- Environmental and food justice 
- Participatory research methods and experiential learning pedagogy



ENVS 22: Introduction to Environmental Studies

ENVS 122: Environmental Politics and Policy

ENVS 155: Environmental and Food Justice

ENVS 198: Environmental Proseminar



Underlined text indicates undergraduate co-author

Bacon, C.M. W. A. Sundstrom, I. T. Stewart, and D. Beezer (2017). Vulnerability to Cumulative Hazards: Coping with the Coffee Leaf Rust Outbreak, Drought, and Food Insecurity in Nicaragua, World Development (93): 136-152. 

Bacon, C.M. & Baker, G.A. (2017). The rise of food banks and the challenge of matching food assistance with potential need: towards a spatially specific, rapid assessment approachAgriculture and Human Values.

Bacon, C. M. (2015). Food sovereignty, food security and fair trade: the case of an influential Nicaraguan smallholder cooperatives. Third World Quarterly, 36(3), 469-488.

Bacon, C.M., Rice, R. and Maryanski, H. (2015). Fair Trade Coffee and Environmental Sustainability in Latin America. In Raynolds, L.T. and Bennett, E. (Eds) Handbook of Research on Fair Trade, 388-404. Edward Elgar: UK.

Goodall, K. E., Bacon, C. M., & Mendez, V. E. (2015). Shade tree diversity, carbon sequestration, and epiphyte presence in coffee agroecosystems: A decade of smallholder management in San Ramón, Nicaragua. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 199, 200-206.

Jha, S., C.M. Bacon, S.M. Philpott, V.E. Méndez, R.A. Rice and P. Läderach (2014). Shade coffee: update on a disappearing refuge for biodiversity. BioScience. 64 (5): 416-428

Bacon, C.M., Sundstrom, W. A., Flores Gómez, M. E., Ernesto Méndez, V., Santos, R., Goldoftas, B., & Dougherty, I. (2014). Explaining the ‘hungry farmer paradox’: Smallholders and fair trade cooperatives navigate seasonality and change in Nicaragua's corn and coffee marketsGlobal Environmental Change (25): 133-149.

Stewart, I. T., Bacon, C. M., & Burke, W. D. (2014). The uneven distribution of environmental burdens and benefits in Silicon Valley's backyard. Applied Geography. 55: 266-277

Bacon, C.M., Getz, Kraus, S., Montenegro, M and Holland, K. (2012) The social dimensions of susainability and change in diversified farming systems. Ecology and Society 17(4): 41.

Kremen, C. Iles, A. and Bacon, C.M (Guest Eds.). (2012) A Social-Ecological Analysis of Diversified Farming Systems: Benefits, Costs, Obstacles, and Enabling Policy Frameworks.  Ecology and Society 17(4).

Tellman, B., Gray, L. C., and Bacon, C.M. (2011) Not Fair Enough: Historic and Institutional Barriers to Fair Trade Coffee in El Salvador. Journal of Latin American Geography 10(2): 107-127.


Curriculum vitae
Curriculum vitae