J. Mark Baker


Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

It is a delight and an honor to teach at Cal Poly Humboldt, and to call the beautiful north coast of California my home. Prior to joining Cal Poly Humboldt in 2006, I spent eight years doing applied social science research on community forestry and related forms of community-based natural resources management in association with a nonprofit organization, the Sierra Institute for Environment and Community. Previously, I taught environmental policy and management and political ecology in the Environmental Studies Department of the University of North Carolina at Asheville. I completed both my M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at UC Berkeley, in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management.

Ever since my days as a graduate student at UC Berkeley, I have been interested in understanding the multi-faceted relationship between community well-being and the environment. I have also sought to advance, through both teaching and research, the idea that community well-being and environmental sustainability are interdependent concepts. I am particularly interested in issues of equity, justice, collective action, community formation, and political authority as they bear upon environment-community relationships. I have pursued these research and teaching interests in both India and North America. Since the early 1980s I have been making regular trips to India, where I have long-standing research interests in community-based irrigation management in the western Himalaya. In North America I am interested in both understanding and advancing community-based approaches to environmental governance and resource management and stewardship that embody community and ecological sustainability. These research interests touch down in northwest California, where I have a sustained interest in understanding and documenting the socioeconomic characteristics and contributions of the north coast’s natural resources and watershed restoration sector.

California’s north coast offers a wonderful array of diverse examples of environment-community relationships – many of which I and my students draw upon in the courses I teach. Whether as subjects for classroom discussion or student research papers, topics such as the Klamath River conflict, dam removal, traditional ecological knowledge, forest policy, water management, watershed restoration – to name just a few – are all locally important and help weave the classroom together with the regional environmental, socio-economic, and political setting of Cal Poly Humboldt.

Areas of Interest: 

Community-based natural resources management, socio-ecological impacts of hydropower development, community-forestry, water politics, political ecology, South Asia, North America.

Courses Taught: 
PSCI 352 Water Politics
GEOG/PSCI 365 Political Ecology
EC 610 Environment & Community Research
EC 615 Graduate Colloquium
EC 630 Environmental Justice