Carol Hunsberger

Assistant Professor

Carol Hunsberger

Contact Information

Office: Room 2409, SSC
Tel: 519 661-2111, 85020
Fax: 519 661-3750

Research Areas

Political ecology, energy justice, biofuels, pipeline politics, environmental governance

Research Interests

I am a human geographer interested in the political ecology of energy systems, especially biofuels and pipelines. On one level this means studying the outcomes of energy projects for livelihoods and ecologies across scales. On another level it means considering how discourses attached to climate change, economic priorities, and competing interpretations of development and the ‘public interest’ influence patterns of governance, investment, promotion and resistance for energy projects. I am especially interested in how people with different positions on controversial issues interpret justice and fairness, and how the diverse values and priorities that they raise are reflected in decision-making processes.

More broadly I am interested in land use and the governance of environmental change. I have a persistent side interest in the politics of knowledge and how environmental issues are communicated. At different times this has expressed itself through work on scenario analysis, experiential education, global environmental assessment reports and community radio. Previously I have worked in Kenya though my current research focus is on energy projects in Canada.

Publications & Supervised Graduate Students and Theses Titles

Refereed Journals 

Hunsberger, C and S Awâsis. 2019. Energy justice and Canada’s National Energy Board: A critical analysis of the Line 9 decision. Sustainability 11 (3), 783. Doi: 3390/su11030783

Diaz, I and C Hunsberger. 2018. Can agroecological coffee be part of a food sovereignty strategy in Puerto Rico? Geoforum 97: 84-94. Doi: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.10.016.

Hunsberger, C, Work, C and R Herre. 2018. Linking climate change strategies and land conflicts in Cambodia: Evidence from the Greater Aural Region. World Development. 108: 309-320.

Goetz, A, T Searchinger, T Beringer, L German, B McKay, G de LT Oliveira, and C Hunsberger. 2018. Reply to commentary on the special issue Scaling up biofuels: A critical look at expectations, performance and governance. Energy Policy. 118: 658-665.

Hunsberger, C, L German and A Goetz. 2017. “Unbundling” biofuels: querying the ability of liquid biofuels to deliver on socio-economic policy expectations. Energy Policy. 108: 791-805.

Goetz, A, Schmidt, L German, C Hunsberger and O Schmidt. 2017. Do no harm? Risk perceptions in national bioenergy policies and actual mitigation performance. Energy Policy. 108: 776-790. 

German, L, A Goetz, T Searchinger, G de LT Oliveira, J Tomei, C Hunsberger and J Weigelt. 2017. Sine Qua Nons of sustainable biofuels: Distilling implications of under-performance for national biofuel programs. Energy Policy. 108: 806-817. 

Corbera, E, C Hunsberger and C Vaddhanaphuti. 2017. Climate change policies, land grabbing and conflict: perspectives from Southeast Asia. Canadian Journal of Development Studies. 38(3): 297-304.

Hunsberger, C, E Corbera, SM Borras Jr, R de la Rosa, V Eang, JC Franco, R Herre, SS Kham, C Park, S Sokheng, M Spoor, S Thein, K Thu, R Thuon, C Vaddhanaphuti, K Woods and C Work. 2017. In press. Land-based climate change mitigation, land grabbing and conflict: towards a landscape-based and collaborative research agenda. Canadian Journal of Development Studies. 38(3): 305-324.

Hunsberger, C. 2016. Explaining bioenergy: Narratives of jatropha before and after disappointing results. SpringerPlus.

Hunsberger, C and A Alonso-Fradejas. 2016. The discursive flexibility of ‘flex crops’: comparing oil palm and jatropha. Journal of Peasant Studies. 43(1): 225-250.

Robledo-Abad, C et al. 2016. Bioenergy production and sustainable development: science base for policy-making remains limited. Global Change Biology Bioenergy. 9: 541-556. 

Hunsberger, C. 2015. Learning from the failures of biofuels governance. Canadian Food Studies. 2(2): 304-312.

Hunsberger, C and S Ponte. 2014. ‘Sustainable’ biofuels in the global South. Geoforum. 54: 243-247.

Hunsberger, C., Bolwig, S., Corbera, E. and Creutzig, F. 2014. Livelihood impacts of biofuel crop production: Implications for governance. Geoforum. 54: 248-260.

Hunsberger, C. 2014. Jatropha as a biofuel crop and the economy of appearances: experiences from Kenya. Review of African Political Economy. 40(140).

Jabbour, J. and Hunsberger, C. 2014. Visualizing relationships between drivers of environmental change and pressures on land-based ecosystems. Natural resources. 5: 146-160.

Creutzig, F., Corbera, E., Bolwig, S., and Hunsberger, C. 2013. Integrating place-specific livelihood and equity outcomes into global assessments of bioenergy deployment. Environmental Research Letters. 8, Article 035047.

Sikor, T., Auld, G., Bebbington, A., Benjaminsen, T., Gentry, B., Hunsberger, C., Izac, A-M, Margulis, M., Pleninger, T., Schroeder, H. and Upton, C. 2013. Global land governance: from territory to flow? Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. 5(5): 522-527.

Jabbour, J., Keita-Ouane, F., Hunsberger, C., Sánchez-Rodríguez, R., Gilruth, P., Levy, M.A., Patel, N., Singh, A. and S. Schwarzer. 2012. Internationally agreed environmental goals: a critical evaluation of progress. Environmental Development. 3: 5-24.

Creutzig, F., von Stechow, C., Klein, D., Hunsberger, C., Bauer, N., Popp, A. and O. Edenhofer. 2012. Can bioenergy assessments deliver? Economics of energy and environmental policy. 1(2): 65-82.

Hunsberger, C. 2010. The politics of Jatropha-based biofuels in Kenya: convergence and divergence among NGOs, donors, government officials and farmers.  Journal of Peasant Studies. 37(4): 939-962.

Chapters in Books

Wang, C, SM Borras and C Hunsberger. 2016. Contemporary agrarian transformation and rural development: large-scale land investment and the question of labour. In: Towards employment intensive growth in South Africa, Anthony Black (Ed). University of Cape Town Press: Cape Town.

Hunsberger, C. 2015. The discursive and material flexibility of Jatropha curcas. pp. 132-147. In: The political ecology of agrofuels, Dietz, K, B Engels, O Pye and A Brunnengräber (Eds), Routledge.

Hunsberger, C, SM Borras Jr, JC Franco and C Wang. 2014. Large-scale land transactions: Actors, agency, interactions. pp. 201-216. In: Rethinking global land use in an urban era, KC Seto and A Reenberg (Eds), MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.

Gentry, B.S., Sikor, T., Auld, G., Bebbington, A.J., Benjaminsen, T.A., Hunsberger, C.A., Izac, A.-M., Margulis, M.E., Pleininger, T., Schroeder, H., Upton, C. 2014. Changes in land-use governance in an urban era. Pages 239-272. In: Rethinking global land use in an urban era, Seto, K.C. and Reenberg, A. (Eds), MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.

Hunsberger, C., Evans, T. et al. 2012. Land. Chapter 3. In: Fifth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5) report of the United Nations Environment Programme, pp. 65-96. UNEP: Nairobi. (Coordinating Lead Author)

United Nations Environment Programme. 2009. Ecosystem Management. Chapter 1. In: UNEP Year Book 2009, pp. 1-10. United Nations Environment Programme. (Contributing author)

Supervised Graduate Students and Theses Titles

PhD Students Year Title
C. Dakin Current Indigenous health and energy justice
MA Students Year Title
S. Doris Current Energy Justice Issues and Energy Poverty in Canada
I. Diaz 2016  Coffee Agroecology, Food Sovereignty, and Agrarian Livelihoods in Puerto Rico
M. Boes 2013 Household livelihood diversification and perceived vulnerability to risks in rural Mali
E. Wabusya 2013 Policy Outcomes and Community Perceptions of a Dryland Invasive Species: A Case Study of Prosopis juliflora in Baringo County, Kenya
M. Awuni 2013 Dilemmas of implementing Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+): Evidence from REDD+ pilots in Ghana


GEO 1500 – Environment and Development Challenges

GEO 3443 – Energy and Power

GEO 3250 – Research Methods in Geography