Santa Clara University

Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences

Christopher Bacon


Christopher Bacon

Assistant Professor

Office: Varsi Hall 218
Phone: (408) 551-3082

PhD, 2005, University of California, Santa Cruz

Curriculum Vitae

Teaching and Research Vision

As an environmental social scientist, I am interested in deepening and diversifying a dialogue about interdependent society-nature relationships. This work is informed by formal training in environmental studies, the wisdom of practical teachers, insight from marginal communities, student curiosity, and concepts from geography, economics, sociology and agroecology.

Several ongoing collaborations with colleagues contribute to an evolving participatory action research agenda that addresses issues of agricultural and environmental governance, sustainability, and social equity. Much of my research compares alternative and conventional food systems, using coffee as an extended case study. A trio of evaluative concepts, including livelihood vulnerabilities (especially hunger and food insecurity), agro-biodiversity conservation and gendered empowerment are useful for interpreting the field research results. These outcomes connect to global food regulation through recent work studying value chain governance, certifications, and the standards setting processes.   Future research projects will address environmental and food justice in California.

In our courses, we will listen to diverse voices, consider contemporary case studies, and review relevant theories. These courses often take a political economic approach to study the root and proximate causes that frame pressing environmental problems and potential solutions. Learners will develop research, collaboration and analytic skills.

Courses Taught

ENVS 22: Introduction to Environmental Studies
ENVS 122: Environmental Politics and Policy
ENVS 155: Environmental and Food Justice
ENVS 198: Environmental Proseminar


Forthcoming/Accepted Publications

Jha, S., C.M. Bacon, S.M. Philpott, V.E. Méndez, R.A. Rice and P. Läderach (forthcoming) Shade coffee: update on a disappearing refuge for biodiversity. Bioscience.
Bacon, C.M., Rice, R. and Maryanski, H. (peer reviewed) (accepted). Fair Trade Coffee and Environmental Sustainability in Latin America. In Raynolds, L.T. and Bennett, E. (Eds) Handbook of Research on Fair Trade. Edward Elgar: UK.

Representative Publications

Bacon, C.M. Sundstrom, W. A., Flores Gómez, M. E., Ernesto Méndez, V., Santos, R., Goldoftas, B., & Dougherty, I. (2014). Explaining the ‘hungry farmer paradox’: Smallholders and fair trade cooperatives navigate seasonality and change in Nicaragua's corn and coffee markets. Global Environmental Change (25): 133-149.
Bacon, C.M., DeVuono-Powell, S. Frampton, M.L. LoPresti, T. Pannu, C. (2013). Introduction to Empowered Partnerships: Community-Based Participatory Action Research for Environmental Justice. Environmental Justice. 6(1): 1-8.

Méndez, V.E., C.M. Bacon and R. Cohen (2013). Agroecology as a transdisciplinary, participatory and action-oriented approach. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. 37(1): 3-18.

Kremen, C. Iles, A. and Bacon, C.M. (2012).  Diversified Farming Systems: An agroecological, systems-based alternative to modern industrial agriculture. Ecology and Society 17(4):44.

Bacon, C. M., D. Mulvaney, T. B. Ball, E. M. DuPuis, S. R. Gliessman, R. D. Lipschutz, and A. Shakouri. 2011. The creation of an integrated sustainability curriculum and student praxis projects. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 12 (2): 193-208. (PDF)

Bacon, C. M. 2011. Disaster Risk and Sustainable Development. In Handbook of Hazards and Disaster Risk Reduction, by B. Wisner, JC Gaillard, and Ilan Kelman, 872. London & New York: Taylor & Francis. Link to Book.

Jha, S., C. M. Bacon, S. M. Philpott, R. A. Rice, V. E. Méndez, and P. Läderach. 2011. A Review of Ecosystem Services, Farmer Livelihoods, and Value Chains in Shade Coffee Agroecosystems. In Integrating Agriculture, Conservation and Ecotourism: Examples from the Field, by B. W. Campbell and S. L. Ortiz, 141-208. Netherlands: Springer. Link to Book.

Bacon, C. M. 2010. Who decides what is fair in Fair Trade?: Agri-Environmental Governance of Standards, Access and Price. Journal of Peasant Studies 37(1): 111?147. (PDF)

Bacon, C. M. 2010. A Spot of Coffee in Crisis: Nicaraguan Smallholder Cooperatives, Fair Trade, and Gendered Empowerment. Latin American Perspectives. Latin American Perspectives 37(2): 50-71.

Mendez, V. E., C. M. Bacon, M. Olsona, K. S. Morris, and A. Shattuck. 2010. Agrobiodiversity and Shade Coffee Smallholder Livelihoods: A Review and Synthesis of Ten Years of Research in Central America. Professional Geographer 62(3): 357?376. Link to abstract.

Mendez, V. E., C. M. Bacon, M. Olsona, S. Petchers, D. Herrador, et al. 2010. Effects of Fair Trade and organic certifications on small-scale coffee farmer households in Central America and Mexico. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems: 1-16. (PDF)

Bacon, C. M., V. E. Méndez, S. Gliessman, D. Goodman, and J. A. Fox, (Eds.). 2008. Confronting the Coffee Crisis: Fair Trade, Sustainable Livelihoods and Ecosystems in Mexico and Central America. Food, Energy and Environment Series MIT Press: Cambridge, MA. Order from MIT Press 

Concluding Chapter (PDF)

Bacon, C. M., V. E. Méndez, M. E. F. Gómez, D. Stuart, and S. R. D. Flores. 2008. Are Sustainable Coffee Certifications Enough to Secure Farmer Livelihoods? The Millenium Development Goals and Nicaragua's Fair Trade Cooperatives. Globalizations 5(2):259 ? 274. Link to abstract.

Bacon, C. 2005. Confronting the Coffee Crisis: Can Fair Trade, Organic and Specialty Coffee Reduce Small-Scale Farmer Vulnerability in Northern Nicaragua? World Development 33(3): 497-511. (PDF)(PDF)

Bacon, C. M., V. E. Méndez, and M. Brown. 2005. Participatory Action Research and Support for Community Development and Conservation: Examples from Shade Coffee Landscapes in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Brief #6. Santa Cruz, CA: Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.

Publications with Environmental Studies Students

Bacon, C.M., Getz, C. Kraus, S., Montenegro, M and Holland, K. (2012) The social dimensions of sustainability and change in diversified farming systems. Ecology and Society 17(4): 41

Tellman, B., L. C. Gray, and C. M. Bacon (2011) Not Fair Enough: Historic and Institutional Barriers to Fair Trade Coffee in El Salvador. Journal of Latin American Geography 10(2): 107-127.