Peter R. Wilshusen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Environmental Studies
David and Patricia Ekedahl Professor of Environmental Studies (2010-2015)
Executive Director, Bucknell Center for Sustainability and the Environment (BCSE)
Peter Wilshusen is Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at Bucknell University (Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, USA). In addition, he serves as Executive Director of the Bucknell Center for Sustainability and the Environment. He completed his doctorate at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment (2003). He also has a Master’s degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (1996) and a BA with honors in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont (1989).
Peter is a broadly trained social scientist (human geography, cultural anthropology, environmental sociology, political ecology) with interests in international governance issues related to sustainability, environment, and development. He has over twenty years of experience studying and working on issues related to international biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, primarily in Latin America.
Peter’s research and writing has focused on the politics of biodiversity conservation globally [Contested Nature] and transformations to community forest management in southeastern Mexico in the context of neoliberal policy reforms [Neoliberal Progressions].
The Contested Nature project (1997-2003) critically examined a resurgence in authoritarian protectionism surrounding activities such as protected areas management in response to perceived failures with then dominant approaches framed as integrated conservation and development projects (ICDPs). He carried out this work in collaboration with Steve Brechin (Rutgers University), Crystal Fortwangler (Chatham University), and Pat West (retired, University of Michigan/SNRE). The main publications that emerged from this work were a pair of articles in the journal Society and Natural Resources–“Reinventing a Square Wheel” and “Beyond the Square Wheel” (2002)–and an edited volume Contested Nature (2003).
The Neoliberal Progressions project (1998-present) draws upon field-based, ethnographic and historical research in Quintana Roo, Mexico that largely concluded in 2010. It analyzes the active engagements of rural producers, government representatives, NGOs, and private sector interests as they have navigated wide-ranging neoliberal reforms across the agrarian sector. This research has led to articles in journals such as Antipode and Environment and Planning A as well as a chapter in an edited volume entitled The Community Forests of Mexico (2005). The project has been supported by grants from the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) among others.
In addition to continued writing on neoliberal progressions in southeastern Mexico, Peter is currently involved in two main projects: Imagining Sustainability and Producing the Green Economy. The first project–Imagining Sustainability–explores the historical trajectory and future prospects of sustainability as a meta-concept for understanding and mediating human-nature relationships across spatial scales—from local to global. The second project–Producing the Green Economy– examines the defining logics, organizational networks, and practices associated with constituting dynamic, transnational governance regimes framed in terms of “the Green Economy.” Initial writing from this project appears in the edited volume Nature Inc. (2014). The David and Patricia Ekedahl Professorship in Environmental Studies has financially supported both projects.
Peter has taught at Bucknell University since 2002 and offers a range of Environmental Studies courses focused on political ecology, international environmental governance, environmental planning, and sustainability. He served as a Senior Fellow in the Environmental Residential College from 2003 to 2009, which included teaching a first-year seminar called “Consuming Nature.” He has also regularly offered a course, “Environmental Planning,” that critically assesses current and future possibilities for constructing sustainable places. Currently, Peter teaches the gateway course to the Environmental Studies major called “Environmental Problems–Sustainable Futures” as well as an upper level seminar in political ecology, “Nature, Wealth, and Power.” In addition, he is co-designing an Integrated Perspectives course called “Imagining Sustainability” with Prof. Maria Antonaccio (Religious Studies).
As Executive Director of the Bucknell Center for Sustainability and the Environment (BCSE), Peter works with a team of six professionals to carry out and support scholarship, teaching, and outreach related to sustainability and the environment. The Center is organized in large part around four, cross-disciplinary programs: Watershed Sciences and Engineering, Place Studies, Sustainable Design, and Global Sustainabilities. In addition to coordinating the Global Sustainabilities Program, Peter has led efforts to create a Sustainability Fellows Program, a Sustainability Studio, and an undergraduate research program focused on sustainability and the environment. Since 2006, the Center has benefited from approximately $2.5 million in external support, including a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation ($450,000) that ran from 2007-2012.
Prior to arriving at Bucknell, Peter worked as a consultant for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), among others. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco and Uruguay. In addition to Mexico, Morocco, and Uruguay, he has also lived and worked in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Belize, and Equatorial Guinea.