Peter Klepeis - Geography Faculty - Colgate University

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Peter Klepeis

Peter Klepeis

Associate Professor of Geography
Geography, 305 Ho Science Center
p 315-228-6797

More Information

Degree

BA, Colgate University, 1994; MA (1997), PhD (2000), Clark University

Interests

My research and teaching focus on nature-society relationships and themes in sustainability science. Drawing on perspectives from political ecology and environmental history, and bridging traditions in the social and natural sciences, I explore multiple forms of land-use and land-cover (land system) change.

Case studies come from Mexico, Chile, Australia, and upstate New York. Projects include the study of tropical deforestation dynamics in the Yucatan Peninsula, forest and rangeland degradation in southern Patagonia, the spread of invasive weeds in eastern New South Wales, the human dimensions of invasive earthworms in the Adirondack State Park, and forest recovery processes in the Town of Eaton, NY. These last two studies involved collaboration with Colgate undergraduate geography students.

Two new projects are in their early stages: an environmental history of Chilean Patagonia; and research on northern Ethiopia’s Church Forests. Learn about more of my research and travel interests.
Peter Klepeis teaching Geog 251 in the geography department's GIS lab

Courses Taught Regularly

GEOG 121: Earth, Society & Sustainability
People have always modified nature. But the scale of environmental change over the last 300 years is unprecedented. Many scholars now refer to the industrial age as the anthropocene; akin to a geologic force, society now has the capacity to alter the very structure and function of the biosphere. Drawing on environmental history, multidisciplinary nature-society research, and case studies from around the world, this course investigates a broad range of environmental issues – including tropical deforestation, natural resource consumption, and the global food system. Students are pressed to question their assumptions about resource use and environmental change dynamics, and consider how society should shape future environments. Is sustainable development possible?

GEOG 205: Climate & Society
Human-induced climate change ― global warming ― is the defining issue of our time. This course explores both the biophysical and social aspects of historical climate-society relationships. Particular emphasis is placed on patterns of vulnerability now and in the distant past, sea level rise, potential geoengineering responses, the debate about market-based mitigation strategies, and ways to enhance societal discourse about climate change. Students grapple with the science and scientific uncertainty of climate change, but also the social, political, ethical, and economic implications of society’s responses. Normally co-taught by a human and physical geographer, the course draws on the multi-disciplinary tradition of geography and exposes students to a range of research methodologies and analytical approaches.

In the news: “Are we cool with the warmth?” (ENST Newsletter)

GEOG 251: Environmental Risk Communication
Social scientists generate qualitative data in myriad ways – via interviews, participant observation, archival research, and focus groups, for example. Qualitative analysis is particularly well suited to exposing context-specific dynamics. In this course students apply qualitative content analysis ─ an approach that facilitates the analysis of words, concepts, and relationships in texts, such as newspaper articles ─ to the theme of environmental risk communication. Given the many ways that individuals learn about environmental hazards, the study of information flow and risk communication is a critical area of research with important policy implications. The course helps prepare students for upper-level undergraduate research. Assignments build to a final project that utilizes the qualitative data analysis software, MAXqda.

GEOG 326: Environmental Hazards
Environmental hazards are threats to people and the things they value. Hazards are a complex mix of natural processes and human actions; thus, they do not just happen, but are caused. This course emphasizes the role of institutions, technology, and human behavior in hazard creation: case studies center on earthquakes, hurricanes, and wildfire (natural hazards); toxic pollution and high volume hydraulic fracturing of shale gas (technological hazards); and malaria and invasive species (biological hazards). In each case, the goal is to identify policy response options to mitigate the risk of environmental hazards and manage them more effectively.

Courses Taught Periodically
  • GEOG 322: Ecologies of the City (Manchester study group)
  • GEOG 324: International Environmental Policy
  • GEOG 325:  Water & Society
  • GEOG 401: Senior Seminar in Geography
  • ENST 101:  Social Science Perspectives on Environmental Issues
  • ENST 309: Australian Environmental Issues (Australia study group)
  • ENST 390: Community-based Study of Environmental Issues

Study Abroad

I have directed Colgate’s study group in Australia twice (2003, 2008) (current Australia study group information) and will be directing the Manchester study group in 2014 (current Manchester study group information). In addition, I co-directed the Uganda extended study with Frank Frey (Biology) in May 2013. And I helped design a new extended study to South Africa, which ran for the first time in May 2014.

Representative Recent Publications

* = undergraduate author

  • 2014   Ikutegbe, V., Gill N., and P. Klepeis. Same but Different: Sources of Natural Resource Management Advice for Lifestyle Oriented Rural LandholdersJournal of Environmental Planning and Management, forthcoming (published online 7 July).     
  • 2013 Klepeis, P., Scull, P., Lalonde*, T., Svajlenka*, N., and N. Gill. “Changing Forest Recovery Dynamics in the Northeastern United States” Area 45(2) 239–248.
  • 2012 Abrams, J.B., Gosnell, H., Gill, N., and P. Klepeis. "Environmental Implications of Amenity Migration: An International Literature Review". Conservation and Society 10(3): 270-84.
  • 2011 Seidl*, D. and P. Klepeis. "Human dimensions of earthworm invasion in the Adirondack State Park". Human Ecology 39: 641-655.
  • 2010 Gill, N., Klepeis, P., and L. Chisholm. Stewardship among lifestyle-oriented rural landowners. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 53(3):1-18.
  • 2009 Klepeis, P., Gill, N., and L. Chisholm. “Emerging Amenity Landscapes: Invasive Weeds and Land Subdivision in Rural Australia”. Land Use Policy 26(2): 380-392.
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