Cindy Isenhour

Cooperating Faculty, Climate Change Institute
Cooperating Faculty, School of Economics

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


Dr. Cynthia Isenhour is an ecological and economic anthropologist. She serves as an Associate 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 governance and policy. 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 throughout, 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 2016 Co-Chair of the Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative (SCORAI) Conference and the 2014 Co-Chair of the Society for Economic Anthropology’s Annual meeting on “Energy & Economy”.

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, Cindy (2016) Unearthing Human Progress? Ecomodernism and Contrasting Definitions of Technological Progress in the Anthropocene. Economic Anthropology 3(2)315-328.

Isenhour, Cindy, Travis Wagner, Travis Blackmer, Linda Silka, John Peckenham, David Hart & Jean McRae (2016) Moving Up the Waste Hierarchy in Maine: Learning from Best Practice State-Level Policy for Waste Reduction and Recovery.  Maine Policy Review 25(1)15-29

Thomas Love and Cindy Isenhour. (2016) Energy and Economy: Recognizing High-Energy Modernity as an Historical Period. Economic Anthropology 3(1):1-18.

Isenhour, Cindy and Kuishuang Feng. (2014) Decoupling and Displaced Emissions: On Swedish Consumers, Chinese Producers and Policy to Address the Climate Impact of Consumption. Journal of Cleaner Production. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.12.037

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.