Nicole Peterson

Nicole Peterson

Associate Professor


Dr. Nicole Peterson is an environmental, economic, and applied anthropologist who examines how decisions about resource access and use are affected by contexts of social interactions, cultural expectations, and institutions. She has studied access to marine resources in the Baja California region of Mexico, agricultural water systems under climate change in Ethiopia, and urban food sovereignty in Charlotte, NC. Dr. Peterson is also the principal investigator for a five-year National Science Foundation grant: Integrated Network for Social Sustainability. This project is a collaborative effort to understand how sustainability efforts are affected by social relationships, ideas, and other elements. For more information on this project, visit the Social Sustainability Network website. Learn more on Dr. Peterson’s web page.

Peterson Curriculum Vitae


  • Ph.D. University of California, San Diego, Anthropology, 2005
  • M.A. University of California, San Diego, Anthropology, 1999
  • B.A. Rice University, Biochemistry, 1997


  • Introduction to Anthropology (four field, undergraduate)
  • Applied anthropology (undergraduate seminar/practicum, graduate)
  • Ethnographic methods (combined undergraduate and graduate course)
  • Environmental Anthropology (undergraduate)
  • Environment and Development (undergraduate seminar)
  • Political ecology (undergraduate and graduate seminar)
  • Anthropology and the politics of climate change (undergraduate seminar)
  • Culture and Consumption (co-taught graduate seminar)


  • Food systems
  • Sustainability
  • Adaptation to environmental and social change
  • Decision-making
  • Political ecology
  • Climate change
  • Institutions and organizations
  • Participatory processes
  • Applied anthropology


  • American Association for the Advancement of Science: Science and Technology Policy Fellowship, 2015-2016
  • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Grant, UNC Charlotte, 2014
  • NSF: Research Coordination Networks, Engineering and Education for Sustainability track: Integrated Network for Social Sustainability (INSS), 2012
  • Fellow, Society for Applied Anthropology


  • Boyer, RHW, Peterson, ND, Arora, P, and Caldwell, K. 2016. Five Approaches to Social Sustainability and an Integrated Way Forward. Sustainability 8(9), 878; doi:10.3390/su8090878
  • Arora, P., Peterson, N., Bert, F., and Podesta, G. 2016 Managing the Triple Bottom Line for Sustainability: A Case Study of Argentine Agribusinesses. Sustainability: Science, Policy, and Practice 12(1).
  • Peterson, N. 2016 Introduction to the special issue on social sustainability: integration, context, and governance. Sustainability: Society, Practice, and Policy 12(1)
  • Peterson, N., and D. Osgood. 2016 Insuring the rain as climate adaptation in an Ethiopian agricultural community. Anthropology and Climate Change: From Encounters to Actions, Second Edition. Eds. Susie Crate and Mark Nuttall. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.
  • Peterson, N. 2015 Unequal sustainabilities: The role of social inequalities in conservation and development projects. Economic Anthropology 2(2): 264-277.
  • Peterson, N, K. Blanchett, E. Bukhamseen, P. Bynam, C. Gattis, J. Lomax, J. Mack, A. Rhoades, T. Spring, A. Thring, S. Walsh. 2015 Niner Food Pantry Need Assessment and Evaluation. Report to UNC Charlotte Niner Food Pantry, Charlotte, NC.
  • Peterson, N. and C. Isenhour. 2014 Introduction: Moving Beyond the ‘Rational Actor’ in Environmental Governance and Conservation. Conservation and Society 12(3):229-232.
  • Peterson, N. 2014 Breaking the bounds of rationality: Values, relationships, and decision-making in Mexican fishing communities. Conservation and Society 12(3):245-256.,