Jennifer Cardinal


Jennifer Cardinal is a cultural anthropologist who studies community-led sustainable development and climate justice. Her ethnographic research extends a political ecology approach to questions about the precarious relationships, practices, and discourse at the intersection of community and sustainability. She teaches methodological and conceptual tools to understand local meanings and practices in the context of global systems. This attention to the local within the global frame includes a commitment to support inclusive sustainability initiatives.
Jennifer’s recent publications examine the relationship between consumption-driven migration, environmental conservation, agriculture, nonprofit organizations, and community development in small town on the southern Jalisco, Mexico coast. This stretch of coast is experiencing a transition as much of the beach-front land is being privatized for luxury resort development with claims of environmental sustainability. In the community Jennifer worked with, on the other hand, the concept of sustainability is materializing in an alternative locally-directed community development. This research explores how different environmental ideologies converge and produce frictions in divergent sustainable development practices.
The local and international collaborative research projects Jennifer has designed in the US, Iceland, and the UK bring a commitment to inclusive community engagement that integrates teaching with research on human/environment relationships. At Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, Jennifer’s multidisciplinary student/faculty collaborative research team assessed local needs and assets, and designed an interactive resource guide in a project funded through the Earlham Center for Social Justice. Student researchers took the leading role in directing the project to ensure that it would be inclusive, accessible, and useful to community residents. This project built on research into local sustainability initiatives in the UK and using a model team members explored in London, resulted in a proposal to open a free Library of Things in collaboration with the municipal library in Richmond.
Jennifer’s current research interests in Troy, NY include care, community, precarity, and disaster. She is studying viable community networks for maneuvering climate insecurity with a focus on water and food. This local research also includes questions about how well-resourced institutions can better support local needs, and the role of community-engaged work and learning in building mutually supportive networks including transitory student populations and rooted community organizations. This local ethnographic research will build on a larger comparative project integrating research on grassroots sustainable development in sites in Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States.


Current Courses

Environmental Justice, Globalization & Development, Research Design, STS & SUST Senior Project, Sustainability Debates, Nature/Society 


Cardinal, Jennifer. 2021. “Lifestyle Migration on the Southern Jalisco Coast: Sustainability and Cosmopolitanism in Community-Led Development” The Journal of  Latin American Geography. 20(3):126-147

The following is a selection of recent publications in Scopus. Jennifer Cardinal has 1 indexed publications in the subjects of Social Sciences, Environmental Science.

Jennifer Cardinal
Journal of Political Ecology
, 27
, 2020
, pp.1052-1071

View All Scopus Publications

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