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Faculty Profile
Theresa Selfa

Theresa  Selfa

Professor and Chair

Orange horizontal rule

106 Marshall Hall



PhD, Development Sociology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

MCP, City and Regional Planning, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA.

BA, English Literature, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA. 




Office Hours Fall 2023

Please contact me by email for an appointment, at

Research Interests

Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems

Social Dimensions of Science and Technology

Cultural Ecosystem Services in Urban and Working Landscapes

Environmental Governance

Environment and Development 


Courses Taught

Undergraduate: Environment and Society; Social Processes and the Environment

Graduate: Environment and Social Theory; Qualitative Research Methods

Current Graduate Advisees

Beth Carvajal MartinezBeth Carvajal Martinez

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Selfa
  • Area of Study: Environmental Studies

Ashmita DasAshmita Das

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Selfa
  • Area of Study: ESC Coupled Natural and Human Systems

Ellie HanjianEllie Hanjian

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Selfa
  • Area of Study: Environmental Studies

Web Link

Graduate Research Topic
Political Ecology, Climate Adaptation, and Localism

Amanda HuntAmanda Hunt

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Selfa
  • Area of Study: Environmental Studies

Personal Statement
Amanda Hunt (she/her) has been interested in the environment from a very young age. Her grandfather was an urban forester—and a SUNY-ESF alum!—so she spent many summers helping him care for the young trees in his neighborhood. She attended Muhlenberg College and double-majored in Environmental Science and French. Her French senior project considered the use of “environmental justice” in French and whether this idea could be translated, in terms of both language and meaning. After graduating from college, she spent a summer interning at a coral restoration project in the Florida Keys. Then, she spent a year traveling and volunteering around Australia where she fell in love with growing food as a means of caring for the land and creating community. For the next three growing seasons, she worked on farms across the Northeast and especially loved growing flowers. Here at ESF, my research focuses on the ways we incorporate justice into the coming energy transition. More specifically, I will be studying how we extract the minerals needed to power electric vehicles. In the case of a proposed lithium mine in Thacker Pass, Nevada, how do we protect local communities and sacred land for Native peoples while obtaining a mineral needed to move away from fossil fuel-powered transportation?

Graduate Research Topic
Environmental justice implications of a domestic lithium supply

Autumn RaaschAutumn Raasch

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Selfa and Diemont
  • Area of Study: Environmental Science

Kshirajaa RameshKshirajaa Ramesh

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Diemont and Selfa
  • Area of Study: Environmental Science

Current and Recently Completed Research Projects

How Competing Sociotechnical Imaginaries Shape Trust and Governance of Gene Editing in Agriculture and Food: A Cross Country Comparison. NSF Science & Technology Studies Program, 2020-2023. Visit Project Website 

Restoration Science Center, SUNY ESF Discovery Grant, 2019-2022.  Visit RSC Website

Identifying Gaps in Public Trust and Governance Recommendations for Gene Edited Foods. USDA NIFA, Social Implications of Emerging Technologies. June 2018-May 2020. Visit Project Website


Experimental Frameworks for Evaluating Net Effects of Hydrologic Service Payments on Coupled Social-Ecohydrological Systems in Mexico. NSF CNH 1313804.  Jan. 2014-Sept. 2019. 

The Role of Citizen Science in Watershed Hydrology Research: Relationships between Volunteer Motivations, Data Quantity and Quality, and Decision-Making.    NSF CBET  EAGER. Jan. 2017- Dec. 2018.  

Sustainability, Ecosystem Services, and Forest-Related Bioenergy Development across the Americas.  NSF PIRE. Oct. 2012-Sept. 2018. 

Lake Ontario Basin Agriculture in the Coming Decades: Room for expansion or imminent future regional water conflict? USDA AFRI Water for Agriculture Challenge Grant.  May 2015-Dec. 2017.

Northeast Woody Warm Season Biomass Consortium Energy and Biofuels production for Distributed Generation. USDA CAP. Aug. 2012-July 2017.


Recent Publications


ResearchGate: ResearchGate Profile

Google Scholar Citations

Selfa, T., A. M. Urcuqui, D. Cordoba, V. Sophie Avila-Foucat, E. Pischke, K. Jones, M.  Nava-Lopez, and D. Torrez. 2022. “The Role of Local Knowledge and Values in Reshaping Payment for Hydrological Services Programs in Veracruz, Mexico: An Actor-Oriented Approach.” Journal of Rural Studies 95: 268-277.

Pérez Volkow, L., S. Diemont, T.  Selfa, H. Morales,  and A. Casas,  2022. “From rainforest to table: Lacandon Maya women are critical to diversify landscapes and diets in Lacanjá Chansayab, Mexico. Agriculture and Human Values.

Falkowski, T., B. Jorgensen, D. Rakow, A. Das, S. Diemont, T. Selfa and A. Arrington. 2022. Socioecological Assessment of Community Garden Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, Agroecology and Ecosystem Services.

Kendig, K., T. Selfa and P. Thompson. 2022. The need for an agricultural bioethics commission. Science 376 (6599):1279-1280.

Moreno, R. and T. Selfa. 2022. “Saving the Sonso Lagoon: Contesting Entrenched Local Powers and Building Practical Authority in Wetland Governance in Valle de Cauca, Colombia.” Advances in Ecological Research, Special Issue: Pluralism in ecosystem governance.

Cordoba, D., J. Abrams and T. Selfa. 2022. “Achieving Palm Oil Sustainability Under Contract: Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and Family Farmers in the Brazilian Amazon.” Current Research in Environmental Sustainability. Vol 4.

Selfa, T., V. Marini and J. Abrams. 2021. “Place attachment and perceptions of land use change: cultural ecosystem services impacts of eucalyptus plantation expansion in Ubajay, Entre Rios, Argentina.”  Special issue on Putting Culture back into Cultural Ecosystem Services (CES): Case Studies on CES and Conservation from the Global South. Ecology and Society,

Selfa, T., C. Bain and S. Lindberg. 2021. “Governing Gene Editing in Agriculture and Food in the U.S.: Tensions, Contestations and Realignments.” Special issue Gene Editing the Food System Elementa 9 (1): 00153.

Urcuqui, A., T. Selfa, P. Hirsch, and C. Ashcraft. 2021. Uncovering Stakeholder Participation in Payment for Hydrological Services (PHS) Program Decision Making in Mexico and Colombia. Sustainability 13(15), 8562;

Avila Foucat, Sophie V., Karla J. Rodrigues- Robayo, K. Jones, E. Pischke, D. Torres, J. Salcone, T. Selfa, and K. Halvorsen. 2021. Household’s Allocation of Payment for Ecosystem Services in “La Antigua” Watershed, Veracruz, México. Journal of Environment and Development. 

Cordoba, D., E. Pischke, T. Selfa, K. Jones, Sophie V. Avila Foucat. 2020. “When Payment for Ecosystem Services Meets the Local Context: Institutional Dynamics in Mexico’s Matching Funds Program.” Society and Natural Resources.

Velardi , S. & T. Selfa. 2020. Framing local: an analysis of framing strategies for genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling initiatives in the northeastern U.S, Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, DOI: 10.1080/21683565.2020.1818159

Bain, C., S. Lindberg, and T. Selfa. 2019. Emerging Sociotechnical Imaginaries for Gene Edited Foods in the United States: Implications for Governance. Agriculture and Human Values

Cordoba, D., L. Juen, T. Selfa, A. Peredo, L. Montaga, M. Santos, and D. Gobbo. 2019. Understanding local perceptions of the impacts of large-scale oil palm plantations on ecosystem services in the Brazilian Amazon.  Journal of Forest Policy and Economics Vol. 109

Eaton, W., M. Burnham, K. Running, C. Clare Hinrichs, and T. Selfa.  2019. "Symbolic meanings, landowner support, and dedicated bioenergy crops in the rural northeastern United States." Energy Research and Social Science 52: 247-257.

Jones, K., S. Avila, E. Pischke, J. Salcone, D. Torrez, T. Selfa, and K. Halvorsen. 2019. “Examining Participation and Human Well-being Outcomes of Payments for Hydrological Services Programs in Mexico.” Ecolystem Services Vol. 35: 32-42.

Nava-Lopez, M.*, T. Selfa, D. Cordoba, E. Pischke, D. Torrez, S. Ávila-Foucat, K. Halvorsen, and C. Maganda. 2018. “Decentralizing Payments for Watershed Services programs in Veracruz, Mexico: Challenges and Implications for Long Term Sustainability.”  Society and Natural Resources. Published online 4 June 2018.

Eaton, W., M. Burnham, C. Clare Hinrichs, T. Selfa, and S. Yang.  2018. “How do socio-cultural factors shape landowner support for local bioenergy crop production and willingness to grow perennial bioenergy crops in mixed-use landscapes.”  Landscape and Urban Planning  175: 195-204.  

Abrams, J., E. Nielsen, D. Diaz, T. Selfa, E. Adams, J. Dunn, and C. Moseley. 2018. “Why do states embrace non-state forest governance models? Evidence from sustainability certification in the US and Argentina.”  Global Environmental Politics 18(3): 66-85. 

Cordoba, D., T. Selfa, J. Abrams and D. Sombra. 2018. “Family Farming, Agribusiness and the State: Building consent around oil palm expansion in post-neoliberal Brazil.”   Journal of Rural Studies 57: 147-156.

Cordoba, D., M. Chiappe, J. Abrams and T. Selfa. 2018. “Making Biodiesel Fair? Progressive Extractivism and Biofuel Production in Latin America’s Southern Cone.”  Development and Change 49 (1): 63-88.  

O’Connor-Robinson, M., T. Selfa and P. Hirsch. 2017. “Navigating the complex trade-offs of pesticide use on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.”  Society and Natural Resources Vol. 31 (2).

Bain, C. and T. Selfa. 2017. “Non-GMOs vs. Organic Labels: Purity or Process Guarantees in a GMO Contaminated Landscape.”Agriculture and Human Values Vol. 34(4): 805-818.   

Bain, C., T. Selfa, T. Dandachi, and S. Velardi. 2017. “Superweeds or Survivors? Framing the Problem of Glyphosate Resistant Weeds and Genetically Engineered Crops.”  Journal of Rural Studies 51: 211-221.

Eaton, W., M. Burnham, C. Hinrichs and T. Selfa. 2017. “Bioenergy Experts and Their Imagined Publics: Implications for Public Engagement and Participation.” Energy Research and Social Science, 25: 65–75

Burnham, M., W. Eaton, T. Selfa, C. Hinrichs, and A.  Parker. 2017. “The politics of imaginaries and bioenergy sub-niches in the emerging northeast U.S. bioenergy economy.”  Geoforum 82: 66-76.

Takahashi, B., M. Burnham, C. Terracina, A. Sopchak, and T. Selfa.  2016. “Climate change perceptions of NY State farmers:  The role of risk perceptions and adaptive capacity.” Journal of Environmental management 58(6): 946-957.

Kulcsar, L, T. Selfa,  & C. Bain. 2016. “Privileged access and rural vulnerabilities: Examining social and environmental exploitation in bioenergy development in the American Midwest.” Journal of Rural Studies 47: 291-299.

Asbjornsen, H.,  A. Mayer, K. Jones, T. Selfa, R. Kolka, L. Saenz, K.  Halvorsen.  2015.  “Assessing Impacts of Payments for Watershed Services on Sustainability in Coupled Natural Human Systems.” Bioscience 65 (6): 579-592.

Selfa, T., C. Bain, R. Moreno*, A. Eastmond, S. Sweitz, C. Bailey, T. Martins*, G. Simas Pereira*, R. Medeiros. 2015. “Interrogating Social Sustainability in the Biofuels Sector in Latin America: Tensions between Global Standards and Local Experiences in Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.” Environmental Management 56 (6): 1315-1329.

Feldpausch-Parker, A., M. Burnham, M. Melnik*, M. Callaghan*, and T. Selfa. 2015. “News Media Analysis of CCS and Biomass: Perceptions and Possibilities."  Invited for Special Issue on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): Bio-Energy vs. Fossil Fuels. Energies Vol. 8: 3058-74.

Selfa, T., A. Iaroi*, and M. Burnham. 2015.  Promoting Ethanol in Rural Kansas: Cultural Politics and Local Framings. Journal of Rural Studies 39: 63-73.

Selfa, T., C. Bain and R. Moreno*. 2014. “Depoliticizing Land and Water ‘Grabs’ in Colombia: The Limits of Bonsucro Certification for Enhancing Sustainable Biofuel Practices.” Special Issue on The Paradoxes of Multi Stakeholder Initiatives in the Age of Global Agri-food Governance. Agriculture and Human Values 31(3): 455-468.

Takahashi, B.* and T. Selfa. 2014. “Pro-Environmental Behavior in Rural Agricultural Communities: Examining the roles of environmental attitudes, community satisfaction, and community attachment.”   Environment and Behavior 47(8): 856-876.

Bain, C. and T. Selfa. 2013. “Framing and Reframing the Environmental Risks and Economic Benefits of Ethanol Production in Iowa.” Agriculture and Human Values 30 (3): 351-364

White, S.  and T. Selfa. 2013. “Shifting Lands: Exploring Kansas Farmer Decision-Making in an Era of Climate Change and Biofuels Production.” Journal of Environmental Management 51(2): 379-391.

Professional Memberships

  • Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society
  • International Association for Society and Natural Resources
  • Rural Sociological Society
  • Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences
  • Association of American Geographers

Journal Editorships

Editorial Board, Agriculture and Human Values, 2022-

Associate Editor, Rural Sociology 2017-20

Associate Editor, Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems , 2013-2020