Theresa Selfa | Environmental Studies | SUNY-ESF
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Theresa SelfaProfessor and Associate Chair

Theresa Selfa

211C Marshall Hall
1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, NY 13210

315-470-6570 | 315-470-6636


  • Cornell University, Development Sociology PhD 2001
  • UC Berkeley, City and Regional Planning MCP 
  • Whitman College, English Literature BA 

Research Interests

Social Dimension of Food-Energy-Water Systems

Environmental Governance

Social Implications of Emerging Technologies

Livelihood Impacts of Enviromental Policies

Sustainability Certification and Labelling

US and Latin America

Current Graduate Advisees

Current Graduate Advisees

Blake NeumannBlake Neumann

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Collins and Selfa
  • Area of Study: Water & Wetland Resource Studies

Moory Romero FernandezMoory Romero Fernandez

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Selfa and Sonnenfeld
  • Area of Study: Environmental and Natural Resources Policy

Christopher TomlinsonChristopher Tomlinson

  • Degree Sought: MPS in Environmental Studies
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Selfa

Andres Mauricio Urcuqui BustamanteAndres Mauricio Urcuqui Bustamante

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Selfa
  • Area of Study: Human Dimensions of the Environment

Andrea Michelle Viera RomeroAndrea Michelle Viera Romero

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Selfa
  • Area of Study: Environmental and Natural Resources Policy
  • Previous Graduate Study: Universitat Potsdam (Global Public Policy)

Research Interests
Sustainable Development, Corporate Social Responsibility, Certification Standards.

Courses Taught

  • Undergraduate: Environment and Society; Social Processes and the Environment
  • Graduate: Environment and Social Theory; Qualitative Research Methods

Recent Publications

Google Scholar Citations

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. .

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.

Current Research Projects

  • Identifying Gaps in Public Trust and Governance Recommendations for Gene Edited Foods. C. Bain, PI. C. Wolf, J. Wolt, T. Selfa, D. Peters, co-PIs. USDA NIFA, Social Implications of Emerging Technologies. June 2018-May 2020.
  • The Role of Citizen Science in Watershed Hydrology Research: Relationships between Volunteer Motivations, Data Quantity and Quality, and Decision-Making.    A. Mayer, PI. K. Jones, PI., H. Asbjornsen, C. Berry, L. Villers, T. Selfa, co-PIs. NSF CBET (Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems) EAGER (Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research). Jan. 2017- Dec. 2018.  
  • Lake Ontario Basin Agriculture in the Coming Decades: Room for expansion or imminent future regional water conflict. S. Shaw, PI and T. Selfa, co-PI.    USDA AFRI Water for Agriculture Challenge Grant.  May 2015-Dec. 2017.
  • Experimental Frameworks for Evaluating Net Effects of Hydrologic Service Payments on Coupled Social-Ecohydrological Systems in Mexico.” H. Asbjornsen, PI, A. Mayer, K. Jones, R. Congalton, T. Selfa, co-PI.  NSF CNH (Coupled Natural and Human Systems) “Jan. 2014-Dec. 2018. 
  • Sustainability, Ecosystem Services, and Forest-Related Bioenergy Development across the Americas. K. Halvorsen, PI, T. Selfa, Senior Personnel.   NSF PIRE (Program on International Research and Education). Oct. 2012-Sept. 2018. 

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