Cindy Isenhour, Ph.D.

IsenhourOffice Address
S. Stevens Hall, Room 230Mailing Address
Dept. of Anthropology
Room 230, 5773 S. Stevens
University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469

Contact Information
Phone: 207/581-1895

Research Interests

Environmental Governance

Climate Mitigation, Adaptation and Policy

Consumption, Embodied Energy and Waste

Social Movements and Alternative Economies

Environmental Risk Perception and Decision Making

Research Projects
Materials Management in Maine

Media Expertise:
Sustainable Consumption
Environmental Impacts of Consumption
Alternative Economies


University of Kentucky, Ph.D. (Anthropology)

Colorado State University, M.A. (Anthropology)

Miami University, B.A. (Business Communications)


The Anthropological Dimensions of Environmental Policy

Natural Resource Management in Cross Cultural Perspective

Economic Anthropology

Environmental Anthropology

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University of Maine

Cooperating Faculty, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine

Associate, Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions


Dr. Cynthia Isenhour is an ecological and economic anthropologist. She serves as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology, as well as a Cooperating Faculty member at the Climate Change Institute, both at the University of Maine. Her research focuses on how history, culture and power shape environmental risk perception, economic decision-making and environmental governance. Recognizing that improvements in energy and natural resource efficiencies are quickly being undone by rising levels of consumption, Isenhour’s recent work looks at policies and alternative economic institutions designed to encourage more sustainable behaviors, primarily among the world’s most affluent consumers. Isenhour is currently working on a project designed to measure the contribution of Maine’s reuse economies to the reduction of materials throughput, energy use, emissions and waste. This project also looks at the sector’s contribution to local economies and the accumulation of social capital and adaptive capacity.

Prior to coming to the University of Maine, Dr. Isenhour was an Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in Environmental Studies at Centre College. She has conducted fieldwork in the U.S., Central America, China, and Scandinavia. In addition to her teaching and research work, Isenhour was the 2014 Co-Chair of the Society for Economic Anthropology’s Annual meeting on “Energy & Economy” and of a double session entitled “Accounting for Climate Change: Measurement, Management & Mysticism” at the American Anthropological Association Meeting.

Isenhour is the recipient of several honors and awards, including the 2014-15 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Pre-tenure Research and Creative Activity Fellowship at the University of Maine. She has also been awarded the Margaret A. Lantis Award for Outstanding Graduate Research, a J. William Fulbright Fellowship, and funding from both the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the American-Scandinavian Foundation.

Selected Publications

Isenhour, “Trading Fat for Forests: Palm Oil, Tropical Deforestation and Environmental Governance,” Conservation & Society 12, no. 3 (2014): 257-267.

Isenhour, “The Devil in the Deal: Trade-Embedded Emissions and the Durban Platform,” Ethics, Policy & Environment (Special Issue on the Durban Platform) 15, no. 3 (2012): 303-308.

Isenhour, “On the Politics of Climate Knowledge: Sir Giddens, Sweden and the Paradox of Climate (In)Justice,” Local Environment: International Journal of Justice and Sustainability 17, no. 9 (2012).

Isenhour, “Can Consumer Demand Deliver Sustainable Food?: Recent Research in Sustainable Consumption Policy & Practice,” Environment & Society 2, no. 1 (2012): 5-28.

Checker, C. Isenhour, and G. McDonough, “Introduction: Sustainability in the City,” City & Society (Special Issue on Urban Sustainability) 23, no. 3 (2011): 113-117.

Isenhour, “How the Grass Became Greener in the City: Urban Imaginings and Practices of Sustainability,” City & Society 23, no. 2 (2011): 118-138.