Karl Zimmerer is Professor of Environment and Society Geography and is in the Ecology and Rural Sociology programs. He directs the GeoSyntheSES lab. His research, teaching, and broader activities center on global food geographies. Karl combines social and political ecology approaches to focus on the human-environment geography of food biodiversity in land use and food systems amid dynamic, multi-scale change and transformation. His work advances theoretical and analytical models to strengthen sustainability strategies and social justice.
Recent examples of Karl’s work illustrate his ongoing human-environment analysis of biodiversity in land use and food systems amid globalization and climate change (Frontiers Sust. Food Systems 2022, Geoforum 2022, J. Latin American Geography 2021, Nature Plants 2017), the knowledge-system and policy integration of environmental geography and interdisciplinary approaches (Ency. Human Geography 2022, Agrobiodiversity: Integrating Knowledge for Sustainability 2019), and combined urbanization and inter-landscape spatial connectivities in food systems, biodiversity, and sustainability (Agricultural Systems 2022, Nature Food 2022, Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene 2023, One Earth 2021, Frontiers Sust. Food Systems 2020 and founding/current editor of Urban Agriculture). He interweaves growing interest in the interactive role of mobility and migration (Food Security 2020, Land 2021, 2020, Anthropocene 2019) and the relations of diverse subaltern food spaces to large-scale agriculture across space and time (Annals of the AAG 2017, Landscape and Urban Planning 2015, Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses 2015). Karl is currently (2022-23) researching these themes as a Visiting-Scientist fellow at the MAK’IT Advanced Studies Institute of the University of Montpellier, France.
Karl teaches environment-society geography and interdisciplinary courses on global food geographies at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Karl has served as head of the Geography Department at Penn State (2007-14), chair and associate chair at the University of Wisconsin--Madison, and in wide-ranging national and international organizations and diverse editorships. He is the recipient of AAAS, Guggenheim, and Rockefeller fellow recognition, Penn State’s Medal for Outstanding Research in the Social Sciences, and awards from the American Geographical Society and sub-groups on Latin America, Biogeography, and Cultural and Political Ecology of the American Association of Geographers.