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Nathan McClintock
Nathan McClintock

Assistant Professor of Urban Studies and Planning

Examining food justice and urban political ecology

Ph.D. Geography, University of California, Berkeley

M.S. Crop Science/Agroecology, North Carolina State University
B.A. French, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

AT PSU SINCE: 2012

CURRENT ROLE:

RESEARCH AREAS:
Urban agriculture and food systems, food justice/environmental justice, and urban political ecology

CLASSES:
DISSERTATION:
Cultivation, Capital, and Contamination: Urban Agriculture in Oakland, 2011.

LINKS:
CONTACT INFORMATION:
Office: Urban Center, room 350 E
Phone: (503) 725-4064
E-mail: n.mcclintock@pdx.edu

Professor Nathan McClintock bridges the university and community in matters of urban agriculture and sustainable food production. He teaches courses in urban political ecology, sustainable cities and regions, and urban agriculture and food systems. His current research involves examining the origins of contemporary urban agriculture movements, obstacles to food access, and the possibilities of scaling up food production in the city.

Prior to his appointment at PSU in 2012, Dr. McClintock earned his doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley where his research focused both on the origins of Oakland’s urban agriculture movement and obstacles to its expansion. Using GIS and participatory research methods, he inventoried the city’s vacant land, determined how much food could be grown, and assessed soil contamination at over a hundred potential garden sites. He was also a founding member of the Oakland Food Council where he worked closely with city officials on urban agriculture zoning. He is expanding his research to Portland and other cities, and tracks his progress at Urbanfood.org.

Dr. McClintock’s chapter “From Industrial Garden to Food Desert: Demarcated Devalution in the Flatlands of Oakland, California” appears in Alison Alkon and Julian Agyeman’s book Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability (MIT Press, 2011) traces the history of inequitable food access. His 2010 article in the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy, and Society entitled  “Why farm the city? Theorizing urban agriculture through a lens of metabolic rift” relates the rise of urban farming to the ecological, social, and individual impacts of political economic transformation.

Dr. McClintock was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali and following his master’s degree, worked on sustainable agriculture projects in Haiti and Senegal and conducted trainings and agroecosystems assessments in Nepal, Bangladesh, Mali, Mexico, and Brazil. Time abroad taught him that food access and equity is primarily influenced by social, political, and economic factors, issues he decided to probe further during his doctoral studies.

The Toulan School’s “food systems guy,” Dr. McClintock employs participatory, hands-on, and experiential teaching practices. He delights in getting students out of the classroom and into the soil. He is actively building partnerships with the Urban Farm Collective and the Portland Multnomah Food Policy Council to expand learning opportunities into the local community. 

What Professor McClintock has to say...


BEST PARTS OF JOB: Being able to bridge applied, community-engaged participatory action research with more abstract, theoretical work, and being able to incorporate teaching into that process.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT PORTLAND:
My bike commute from North Portland, across the Steel Bridge and along the waterfront. The grain elevators on the Willamette. 5:30 pm kid-friendly beer and burger dinners at Pause. The view of Mt. Hood from the Vancouver St. Bridge.

VISION FOR THE TOULAN SCHOOL:
To serve as a nexus for critical and applied research on sustainability and social justice in metropolitan regions, drawing on an increasingly interdisciplinary body of theory and methods (planning, geography, sociology, economics, political science, ecology, engineering, etc).

APPROACH TO TEACHING:
Critical, participatory, interdisciplinary, reading-heavy, discussion-centered.

ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS:
Don’t go straight from undergrad to grad school, wait at least two or three years. Go out into the world, bear witness to its inequities, and figure out what kind of change you’re most passionate about and the skills you’ll need to contribute towards it.

FAVORITE URBAN PLACES:
Vancouver: water, mountains, and health care.
Paris: food, history, and health care.
Bamako, Mali: some of the friendliest people on the planet.

INFLUENTIAL BOOKS:
Limits to Capital, by David Harvey
Two Ears of Corn: A Guide to People-Centered Agricultural Improvement, by Roland Bunch

WHEN NOT TEACHING I...:
Hang out with my wife and daughter. I also enjoy working in our garden and love road trips, train trips, and going camping, hiking, or cross-country skiing… but all of those happen far too infrequently!