BA, Colgate University, 1994; MA (1997), PhD (2000), Clark University
My research and teaching focus on nature-society relationships and themes in sustainability science. Drawing on perspectives from political ecology and environmental history, and bridging traditions in the social and natural sciences, I explore multiple forms of natural resource use and protection.
Case studies come from Mexico, Chile, Australia, the United States, and Ethiopia. Projects include:
- the study of tropical deforestation in the Yucatan Peninsula
- forest and rangeland degradation in southern Patagonia
- the spread of invasive weeds in eastern New South Wales
- the human dimensions of invasive earthworms in the Adirondack State Park
- forest recovery processes in the Town of Eaton, NY
- church forest protection in northern Ethiopia
For an example of recent research, see a video recording of the Landau Peace Lecture - "Walls around trees? How to protect Ethiopia's Church Forests" - which I gave in June 2021.
Courses Taught Regularly
GEOG 211: Geographies of Nature, Economy, and Society
People have always modified nature. But the scale of environmental change over the last 300 years is unprecedented. Many scholars now refer to the industrial age as the anthropocene; akin to a geologic force, society now has the capacity to alter the very structure and function of the biosphere. Drawing on environmental history, multidisciplinary nature-society research, and case studies from around the world, this course investigates a broad range of environmental issues – including tropical deforestation, natural resource consumption, and the global food system. Students are pressed to question their assumptions about resource use and environmental change dynamics, and consider how society should shape future environments. Is sustainable development possible?
GEOG 105: Climate & Society
Human-induced climate change ― global warming ― is the defining issue of our time. This course explores both the biophysical and social aspects of historical climate-society relationships. Particular emphasis is placed on patterns of vulnerability now and in the distant past, sea level rise, potential geoengineering responses, the debate about market-based mitigation strategies, and ways to enhance societal discourse about climate change. Students grapple with the science and scientific uncertainty of climate change, but also the social, political, ethical, and economic implications of society’s responses. Normally co-taught by a human and physical geographer, the course draws on the multi-disciplinary tradition of geography and exposes students to a range of research methodologies and analytical approaches.
GEOG 306: The Geography of Happiness
Achieving some degree of happiness is a primary goal for most people. Certainly, a huge industry has emerged in recent years to feed the public's desire for ways to improve their happiness. There is also a rapidly growing amount of research on the subject. This course starts with an overview of the diverse, multidisciplinary scholarship on factors that may contribute to happiness. But the main goal of the course is to consider themes central to the discipline of geography: how do environmental changes, efforts to achieve sustainable development, and culture affect the geography of happiness? Do people achieve a greater sense of well-being when interacting with wilderness or by exploring nature in their backyards? Does environmental stewardship improve happiness? What roles do attitudes about food and leisure play in how happy people are? Students explore these questions via out-of-class excursions, films, diverse mix of scholarly and popular press readings, guest speakers, and individual research projects.
GEOG 326: Environmental Hazards
Environmental hazards are threats to people and the things they value. Hazards are a complex mix of natural processes and human actions; thus, they do not just happen, but are caused. This course emphasizes the role of institutions, technology, and human behavior in hazard creation: case studies center on earthquakes, hurricanes, and wildfire (natural hazards); toxic pollution and high volume hydraulic fracturing of shale gas (technological hazards); and malaria and invasive species (biological hazards). In each case, the goal is to identify policy response options to mitigate the risk of environmental hazards and manage them more effectively.
- GEOG 121: Earth, Society & Sustainability
- GEOG 322: Ecologies of the City (Manchester study group)
- GEOG 325: Water & Society
- GEOG 328: Sustainability and Natural Resources (South Africa study group)
- GEOG/SOC 251: Media Frame and Content Analysis
- GEOG 401: Senior Seminar in Geography
- ENST 309: Australian Environmental Issues (Australia study group)
- ENST 390: Community-based Study of Environmental Issues
I've directed four semester-long Colgate study groups: Wollongong (Australia) in 2003 and 2008 (current Australia study group information), Manchester (UK) in 2014 (current Manchester study group information), and the second iteration of Colgate's new South Africa study group (located in Cape Town) in fall 2019. In addition, I co-directed the three-week Uganda extended study with Frank Frey (Biology) in May 2013. In January 2022, in connection with Colgate's Sophomore Residential Seminar program, I directed a 10-day trip to Colombia.
Articles and Book Chapters
2021 Klepeis, P. “Protecting Ethiopia’s Church Forests: The disconnect between western science and local knowledge”. In Davis, E. and S. Silvern (eds). Religion, Sustainability, and Place: Moral Geographies of the Anthropocene. Palgrave Macmillan, pp 199-224. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-981-15-7646-1_9
2018 Orlowska, I. and P. Klepeis. “Ethiopian church forests: a socio-religious conservation model under change.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 12 (4): 674-695. https://www.tandfonline.com/
2017 Cardelús, C., Scull, P., Wassie Eshete, A., Woods, C., Klepeis, P., Kent, E., and I. Orlowska. "Persistence of Sacred Church Forests in Northern Ethiopia." Biotropica 49(5): 726-733.
Scull, P., Cardelús, C., Klepeis, P., Woods, C., Frankl, A. and J. Nyssen. “The Resilience of Ethiopian Church Forests: Interpreting Aerial Photographs, 1938-2015”. Land Degradation & Development 28(2): 450-58.
Woods, C., Cardelús, C., Scull, P., Wassie Eshete, A., Baez, M., and P. Klepeis. “Stone walls and sacred forest conservation in Ethiopia”. Biodiversity and Conservation 26(1): 209-21. DOI: 10.1007/s10531-016-1239-y
2016 Klepeis, P. and N. Gill. “The paradox of engagement: land stewardship and invasive weeds in amenity landscapes.” In L.E. Taylor and P.T. Hurley (eds), A Comparative Political Ecology of Exurbia: Planning, Environmental Management, and Landscape Change, Springer, p. 221-243.
Klepeis, P., Orlowska, I., Kent, E., Cardelús, C., Scull, P., Wassie Eshete, A. and C. Woods. “Ethiopian Church Forests: A Hybrid Model of Protection”. Human Ecology 44(6): 715-30. http://rdcu.be/m607
Turner II, B.L., Geoghegan, J., Lawrence, D., Radel, C., Schmook, B., Vance, C., Manson, S., Keys, E., Foster, D., Klepeis, P., Vester, H., Rogan, J., Roy Chowdhury, R., Schneider, L., Dickson, R., and Y. Ogneva-Himmelberger. “Land System Science and the Social-Environmental System: The Case of Southern Yucatán Peninsular Region Project”. Current Opinions in Environmental Sustainability. 19: 18-29
2015 Ikutegbe, V., Gill N., Klepeis, P. “Same but Different: Sources of Natural Resource Management Advice for Lifestyle Oriented Rural Landholders” Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 58 (9): 1530-1543.
2014 Klepeis, Peter (Contributing Editor), “Geography – Southern Cone”. In North, Tracy (editor). Handbook of Latin American Studies: Volume 69 - Social Sciences, United States Library of Congress. Austin: University of Texas Press, pp. 170-178.
2013 Klepeis, Peter, Scull, Peter, Lalonde*, Tara, Svajlenka*, Nicole, and Nicholas Gill. “Changing Forest Recovery Dynamics in the Northeastern United States” Area 45(2) 239–248 (*student co-author)
Wickramasuriya, Rohan, Chisholm, Laurie, Puotinen, Marji, Gill, Nicholas, and Peter Klepeis. “A Method to Dynamically Subdivide Parcels in Land Use Change Models.” International Journal of Geographical Information Science 27(8): 1497-1513
2012 Abrams, Jesse, Gosnell, Hannah, Gill, Nicholas, and Peter Klepeis. “Re-creating the rural, reconstructing nature: A review of the environmental implications of amenity migration.” Conservation and Society 10(3): 270-84.
Klepeis, Peter (Contributing Editor), “Geography – Southern Cone”. In North, Tracy (editor). Handbook of Latin American Studies: Volume 67 - Social Sciences, United States Library of Congress. Austin: University of Texas Press, pp. 177-187.
2011 Seidl, Dara and Peter Klepeis. “Human Dimensions of Earthworm Invasion in the Adirondack State Park.” Human Ecology 39: 641-655. (student co-author)
2011 Wickramasuriya, Rohan, Chisholm, Laurie, Puotinen, Marji, Gill, Nicholas, and Peter Klepeis. “An automated land subdivision tool for urban and regional planning: concepts, implementation and testing.” Environmental Modelling & Software 26: 1675-1684.
2010 Gill, Nicholas, Klepeis, Peter, and Laurie Chisholm. “Stewardship among lifestyle-oriented rural landowners” Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 53(3): 1-18.
2009 Klepeis, Peter, Gill, Nicholas, and Laurie Chisholm. “Emerging Amenity Landscapes: Invasive Weeds and Land Subdivision in Rural Australia”. Land Use Policy 26(2): 380-392.
2008 Klepeis, Peter and Paul Laris. “Hobby Ranching and Chile’s Land Reform Legacy”. The Geographical Review 98(3): 372-414.
2006 Klepeis, Peter and Paul Laris. “Contesting Sustainable Development in Tierra del Fuego”. Geoforum 37(4): 505-518.
Klepeis, Peter. “From Farmers to Satellites: A Human Geography Perspective on Tropical Deforestation”. In Tropical Deforestation: Exploring Environmental Challenges, A Multi-Disciplinary Approach, eds. Sharon Spray and Matt Moran Lanham. Roman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 77-101.
Klepeis, Peter. “Southern Cone Region (South America)”. In Helmut Geist (ed), The Earth’s Changing Land: An Encyclopedia of Land-Use and Land-Cover Change. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 566-571.
Klepeis, Peter and Paul Laris. “Land Use History”. In Helmut Geist (ed), The Earth’s Changing Land: An Encyclopedia of Land-Use and Land-Cover Change. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 370-372.
Klepeis, Peter, and Paul Laris. “Pristine Myth”. In Helmut Geist (ed), The Earth’s Changing Land: An Encyclopedia of Land-Use and Land-Cover Change. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 481-484.
Laris, Paul and Klepeis, Peter. “Degradation Narratives”. In Helmut Geist (ed), The Earth’s Changing Land: An Encyclopedia of Land-Use and Land-Cover Change. Greenwood Publishing Group, 161-164.
2005 Bray, David Barton and Peter Klepeis. “Deforestation, Forest Transitions, and Institutions for Sustainability in Southeastern Mexico, 1900-2000”. Environment and History 11: 195-223.
2004 Klepeis, Peter. “Forest Extraction to Theme Parks: The Modern History of Land Change in the Region”. In Integrated Land-Change Science and Tropical Deforestation in the Southern Yucatán: Final Frontiers, ed. B.L. Turner II, J. Geoghegan, and D.R. Foster. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 39-59.
Klepeis, Peter and Rinku RoyChowdhury. “Institutions, Organizations, and Policy Affecting Land Change: Complexity Within and Beyond the Ejido”. In Integrated Land-Change Science and Tropical Deforestation in the Southern Yucatán: Final Frontiers, ed. B.L. Turner II, J. Geoghegan, and D.R. Foster. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 145-169.
Klepeis, Peter, Vance, Colin, Keys, Eric, Macario Mendoza, Pedro, and B.L. Turner II. “Subsistence Sustained: Swidden or Milpa Cultivation”. In Integrated Land-Change Science and Tropical Deforestation in the Southern Yucatán: Final Frontiers, ed. B.L. Turner II, J. Geoghegan, and D.R. Foster. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 189-206.
Vance, Colin, Klepeis, Peter, Schmook, Birgit and Eric Keys. “The Ejido Household: The Current Agent of Change”. In Integrated Land-Change Science and Tropical Deforestation in the Southern Yucatán: Final Frontiers, ed. B.L. Turner II, J. Geoghegan, and D.R. Foster. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 171-187.
2003 Klepeis, Peter. “Development Policies and Tropical Deforestation in the Southern Yucatán Peninsula: Centralized and Decentralized Approaches”. Land Degradation and Development 14: 1-21.
Klepeis, Peter and Colin Vance. “Neoliberal Policy and Deforestation in Southeastern Mexico: An Assessment of the PROCAMPO Program”. Economic Geography 79(3): 221-240.
Turner II, B.L., Klepeis, Peter, and Laura S. Schneider. “Three Millennia in the Southern Yucatán Peninsular Region: Implications for Occupancy, Use, and ‘Carrying Capacity’”. In Lowland Maya Area: Three Millennia at the Human-Wildland Interface, ed. A. Gómez-Pompa, M. Allen, S. Fedick & J. Jimenez-Osornio. New York: The Haworth Press, 361-387.
2001 Geoghegan, Jacqueline, Sergio Cortina Villar, Peter Klepeis, Pedro Macario Mendoza, Yelena Ogneva-Himmelberger, Rinku Roy Chowdhury, B.L. Turner II, Colin Vance. “Modeling Tropical Deforestation in the Southern Yucatán Peninsular Region: Comparing Survey and Satellite Data”. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 85(1-3): 25-46.
Klepeis, Peter and B.L. Turner II. “Integrated Land History and Global Change Science: The Example of the Southern Yucatán Peninsular Region Project”. Land Use Policy 18(1): 27-39.
Turner II, B.L., Sergio Cortina Villar, David Foster, Jacqueline Geoghegan, Eric Keys, Peter Klepeis, Deborah Lawrence, Pedro Macario Mendoza, Steven Manson, Yelena Ogneva-Himmelberger, Audrey B. Plotkin, Diego Pérez Salicrup, Rinku Roy Chowdhury, Basil Savitsky, Laura Schneider, Birgit Schmook, Colin Vance. “Deforestation in the Southern Yucatán Peninsular Region: An Integrative Approach”. Forest Ecology and Management 154(3): 353-370.
2019 Klepeis, P. 2019. Interviewed for 20 minutes by Wendy Fachon for her program, Story Walking Radio Hour. “Thinking Outside the Box on Environmental Issues”. July 28 https://dreamvisions7radio.com/thinking-outside-the-box-on-environmental-issues-guest-peter-klepeis-phd-colgate-university/
Klepeis, P. 2019. "Be Happy, for the Planet". Colgate Magazine (Spring). See https://news.colgate.edu/magazine/2019/05/16/be-happy-for-the-planet-peter-klepeis/
2013 Frey, F., Klepeis, P., Kraly, E., and student participants in the Colgate University “extended study” to Uganda. Report on Childhood Malnutrition and Land Use Change in the Bwindi Community Hospital Catchment Region. Prepared for the Bwindi Community Hospital, Buhoma, Uganda.
2012 Burnett, A. and P. Klepeis. Are we Cool with the Warmth? Colgate University Environmental Studies Newsletter, Spring 2012.
Klepeis, P. and P. Scull. Transportation and Quality of Life in Hamilton, NY: A Survey. A mail survey developed, implemented and analyzed as part of the course, Community Based Study of Environmental Issues (ENST 390). Data set and summary shared with the Town of Hamilton.
Member, Energy Working Group, Hamilton, NY. Focus on High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing and Wind Power. Reports to the Hamilton Town Council, Madison County, New York.
2011 Gill, N. and P. Klepeis. Data Summary — Living, Working, and Playing on the Land Survey: An effort to understand the issues important to rural landowners in the Kiama Local Government Area. Unpublished report to the Kiama Council, Dec, 86 pp.
2008 Gill N., Chisholm, L., Klepeis, P., Wickramasuriya Denagamage, R., Marthick, J. “Land Management and Land Cover on Land Owned by Amenity Oriented Rural Landowners in Jamberoo Valley ― Part One: Landowners’ Attitudes and Land Use and Land Management Practices; Part Two: Land Cover Changes and Implications for Natural Resource Management.” Unpublished report to the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, NSW, Australia, June.
2003 Schmook, Birgit, Vance, Colin, Klepeis, Peter, and Eric Keys. “Características de los Ejidos al Sur de los Estados de Campeche y Quintana Roo: Resultados del Proyecto SYPR (Proyecto de la Región Sur de la Península de Yucatán).” Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico.