Ernest Nkansah-Dwamena | Open Academy | SUNY-ESF
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e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Ernest Nkansah-DwamenaVisiting Assistant Professor

Ernest Nkansah-Dwamena

229 Gateway Center
1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, NY 13210

315-470-6881 | 315-470-6817


Ph.D.  Biology & Society, 2017, Arizona State University (ASU), Arizona

M.S. Sustainability, 2012, The City College of New York (CCNY), New York City

B.S. Natural Resources Management, 2007, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana


1. Sustainable Development: Multi-scale analysis of the opportunities and threats of large-scale land acquisition to the sustainable development of Sub-Sharan Africa (with a focus on Tanzania).

2. Political Economy: What drives transnational land investment in Sub-Sharan Africa and how do these factors shape natural resources governance?

3. Development Geography: What are the implications of "land grabbing" for local livelihoods and how does it affect peoples' living standards, well-being, and quality of life in Africa?

4. Environmental and Social Justice: How do large-scale agriculture investments shape access to food, water, and land in Sub-Sharan Africa?


Current Teaching Responsibilities: SUNY ESF Open Academy

  • SUS 300: Sustainable Systems Thinking (online)
  • SUS 320: Ecological Dimensions of Sustainability (online)
  • SUS 330: Sustainability Data Analysis (online)
  • SUS 410: Sustainable Urbanism (online)
  • SUS *500: Sustainable Agriculture (online)
  • EST 415: Environmental Justice. Co-teaching with Prof. Lemir Teron, Spring Semester

Current Teaching Responsibilities: SUNY Center for Professional Development (CPD)

  • DEI 319A: Helping Non-Traditional Students Learn: (this course is designed for faculty and instructors teaching adult learners)

Former Courses Taught: Arizona State University

Graduate Level Courses

  • GTD 501: Global Technology and Development (hybrid course)

Undergraduate Level Courses

  • BIO 182: General Biology II (Fall 2013-Fall 2016, three years)
  • BIO/ENVS 100: The Living World (Fall 2012-Spring 2013, three semesters)


Online Teaching (Peer-Reviewed)

  • Nkansah-Dwamena Ernest, Rohan Jowallah, Aimee deNoyelles (2019). Using a guided approach to support critical thinking in online discussions. In Chen, B., deNoyelles, A., & Thompson, K. (Eds), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR). Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning.

Encyclopedia Articles (Peer-Reviewed)

  • Nkansah-Dwamena, Ernest. A Plant Genetically Modified That Accumulates Pb Is Especially Promising for Phytoremediation 2014. Embryo Project Encyclopedia (2014-12-30). ISSN: 1940-5030
  • Nkansah-Dwamena, Ernest. Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association's suit against Monsanto, 2012 and 2013. Embryo Project Encyclopedia  (2014-12-30). ISSN:1940-5030.

Articles Submitted (Under review)

  • Nkansah-Dwamena, Ernest. What fundamental national level factors and conditions drive foreign direct investment in farmland in Sub-Saharan Africa? Journal of Development Studies.
  • Nkansah-Dwamena, Ernest. How does large-scale land acquisition affect rural livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa, the case of Tanzania? Journal of Peasant Studies.
  • Nkansah-Dwamena, Ernest."In what sense is large-scale land acquisition (LaSLA) in Sub-Saharan Africa just or unjust, ethical or unethical–LaSLA reconsidered in lights of John Rawls’s Theory of Justice. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics.

Articles in Preparation

  • Nkansah-Dwamena, Ernest, and Kinzig. Ann P. What can we learn from the recent surge in demand for land in Sub-Saharan Africa, and how can we share lessons for policy actions? Sustainability: Science, Practice, and Policy Journal. 
  • Nkansah-Dwamena, Ernest, and Kinzig. Ann P. The recent scramble for land in Sub-Saharan Africa, what does it meant local people Journal of Agrarian Change. 


International Conferences 

  • Nkansah-Dwamena Ernest. Reframing the debate on how large-scale land acquisition (LaSLA) affects local livelihoods in Tanzania. Land and Poverty Conference 2019: Catalyzing Innovation, the World Bank, Washington, DC (March 25-29, 2019).
  • Nkansah-Dwamena Ernest. Reframing the debate on how large-scale land acquisition (LaSLA) affects local livelihoods in Tanzania.  Sustainability and Development Conference, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan (November 9-11, 2018).
  • Nkansah-Dwamena Ernest. Does Fuel for the Rich Substitute Food for the Poor? International Conference on Africa Media and Democracy. Accra, Ghana, (August 2, 2014).
  • Nkansah-Dwamena Ernest. Impacts of Land Grabbing on Rural Livelihood and Wellbeing in Kilombero/Mbarali District. The Sokoine University of Agriculture. Morogoro, Tanzania (July 2014).

Invited Talks 

  • Nkansah-Dwamena, Ernest. Land: A source of identity, wealth, belonging, and a safety net for the people of Mkangawalo in Tanzania. Colgate University, Hamilton, New York. (September 6, 2019).
  • Nkansah-Dwamena, Ernest. Online Course Design, Development, Teaching, and Continuous Quality Improvements.  The Open Academy, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NewYork (August 2, 2018).
  • Nkansah-Dwamena, Ernest and Banke-Thomas Aduragbemi. Pre-departure to Africa orientation for the MasterCard Foundation Scholars, Arizona State University (May 8, 2016).
  • Nkansah-Dwamena, Ernest and Samantha Calvin. Human trafficking: combating slavery in the 21st century. The Spirit of Service Scholarship Program, the College of Public Service and Community Solutions, Arizona State University (October 2015).
  • Nkansah-Dwamena, Ernest. The First Semester Starting as a Teaching Assistant. The School of Life Science New TA Orientation. Arizona State University, (August 2015).
  • Nkansah-Dwamena, Ernest. Strategies for Happiness and Success in Graduate School. Panel Event, Graduate Women Association. Arizona State University, (September 2014).
  • Nkansah-Dwamena, Ernest. Classroom Management and Academic Integrity Graduate Professional Student Association. Arizona State University (October 2014).

Departmental Talks

  • Nkansah-Dwamena, Ernest and Teron, Lemir. Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Sub-Saharan Africa, the role of national governments. Department of Environmental Studies, SUNY-College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF)(February 2019).

National Conference Paper Reviews

  • Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty. Women’s access to land in Rwanda: Lessons from civil society organizations on how to align policy and practice (2015).
  • Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty. Appropriate Attention for the Female Gender in Scaling up Responsible Land Governance in Nigeria (2015).
  • Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty. Land Tenure and Agricultural Expansion in Latin America: The Role of Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities (2014).
  • Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty. Impacts of Large-Scale Land-Based Investment, Implementation Challenges, and Policy Implications; Lessons from the Uganda Oil Palm Project (2014).
  • Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty. Relationship of foreign large-scale land acquisitions in developing countries and agricultural FDI (2014).


ernest on cover of magazine

Hi, my name is Dr. Ernest Nkansah-Dwamena. I was born and raised in Agogo, a small town in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. I completed my undergraduate studies in Natural Resource Management from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in 2007. I relocated to the United States in 2009 to pursue a Masters in Sustainability at New York’s City College. In 2012, I went to Arizona State University (ASU) for my Ph.D. in Biology and Society with a focus on sustainable development. At ASU, I was part of the EcoServices and Ecology, Economics and Ethics of the Environment (4E) lab.

My dissertation research, titled, Multi-Scale Analysis of the Opportunities and Threats of Large-Scale Land Acquisitions (LASLA) to the Sustainable Development of Sub-Saharan Africa, focused on understanding the consequences of transnational agriculture investments, also known as "land grabbing" on local livelihoods and well-being, especially in Tanzania. Through participatory action research (PAR), I examined the environmental and economic impacts, the social justice/human rights dimensions (at both national and household levels) and assessed LASLA's implications for equitable distribution of land and water resources for rural communities.

While I received my Ph.D. in Life Sciences, I did so in a program that allows interdisciplinary dissertations; I thus have a background in social and natural sciences (development geography, sustainability, political economy, and social justice). At ASU, I was actively involved with ASU’s Newman Center. I collected and donated food to homeless shelters and taught English in refugee communities in the Phoenix Metro Area. I also mentored and taught undergraduate and graduate level courses in environmental science and sustainability for five years in both traditional settings (face-to-face) and online.

Currently, I am an Assistant Professor at the Open Academy of the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF). I teach and advise students in the new Bachelor of Science in Sustainability Management program. The courses I teach include SUS 300-Sustainable Systems Thinking, SUS 320-Ecological Dimensions of Sustainability, SUS330-Introduction to Sustainability Data Analysis, and SUS 410-Sustainable Urbanism. 

My main teaching goal is to equip students to think critically and become life-long learners, well prepared for an enriching career or graduate education, and ready to tackle complex societal problems from a multidisciplinary approach. In particular, I bring research into teaching by introducing both general and subject-specific research skills including literature review, peer review, term paper presentation, and research proposal writing into course assignments. Also, I use active learning methods and project-based learning strategies to help students critically analyze complex issues that include consideration of environmental, social, economic, political, and scientific dynamics. I reflect on the intellectual and cultural diversity that students bring to my class to guide my teaching.  

Above all, I believe each student is capable of becoming a master learner, well adapted to the betterment of society. Thus, I mentor and encourage my students to reflect on what they learn, why they learn it, and how to apply the knowledge to a new context.