Sean Gillon – Bio

Sean Gillon, Ph.D.

Sean Gillon, Marylhurst UniversityAssistant Professor, Food Systems & Society
Chair, Interdisciplinary & Liberal Arts



Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Ph.D., Environmental Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
MA, Environmental Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
BA, Global Studies, University of Iowa

Classes Taught

Food Systems and Inquiry
Food, Policy and Culture
Program Intensives


Dr. Gillon’s approach to research and teaching is interdisciplinary, problem-focused and aims toward practical, positive food and agricultural policy change. His research engagements have included analyses of the politics of US food and agricultural policy, organic food regulation, the social and ecological dimensions of biofuel production, livestock production and food system labor, water quality and climate change’s influence on food systems, nutrient management in dairy agriculture, and agroecological knowledge and practice. Most recently, Gillon was a Postdoctoral Research on a National Science Foundation-funded, interdisciplinary research project at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Raised in Iowa, Sean Gillon marveled at the contradictory impulses of the contemporary food system; his immigrating family depended on agricultural industry, while he observed first hand its social and ecological costs. This influenced his interests in food and agricultural systems and the practical problems we have encountered in their development. He has managed small farming operations, conducted research for community food groups working toward social justice, founded and served as director for nonprofit organizations, and worked as a produce buyer.

As a teacher and mentor, Dr. Gillon believes his role is to move students from knowledge assimilation toward asking and answering their own questions. His aim is to encourage students to become lifelong, active learners and engaged citizens. His teaching emphasizes synthetic and critical reading, writing and thinking skills development, engaging discussion, and applying learned knowledge and skills through praxis. He is pleased to participate in Marylhurst University’s innovative Food Systems and Society program, which combines scholarship and practice to build a more equitable food system.

Selected Publications

Gillon, S. In Press. Flexible for whom? Flex crops, crises, fixes, and the politics of exchanging use values in US corn production. The Journal of Peasant Studies: Critical Perspectives on Rural Politics and Development.

Gillon, S., E.G. Booth, A.R. Rissman. 2015. Shifting drivers and static baselines in environmental governance: challenges improving and proving water quality outcomes. Regional Environmental Change. DOI: 10.1007/s10113-015-0787-0

Hilimire, K., S. Gillon, B. McLaughlin, K. Monsen and B. Dowd-Uribe. 2014. Food for thought: Developing curricula for sustainable food systems education. Journal of Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems 38(6): 722-743.

Gillon, S. 2014. Science in Carbon Economies: Debating what counts in US biofuel governance. Environment and Planning A 46: 318-336.

Stuart, D. and S. Gillon. 2013. Scaling up to address new challenges for conservation on US farmland. Land Use Policy 31: 223-236.

Gillon, S. 2012. US biofuel production as climate policy: Tensions between greenhouse gas governance, agricultural economies, and agroecological practice. Norteamérica 7: 129- 164.

Gillon, S. 2012. Critical geographies of meat? Antipode Foundation.

Gillon, S. 2012. Security, scarcity and the political pipeline. Antipode Foundation.

Gillon, S. 2010. Fields of dreams: Negotiating an ethanol agenda in the Midwest United States. The Journal of Peasant Studies: Critical Perspectives on Rural Politics and Development. 37(4): 723-748.

Gillon, S. 2010. Appropriationism. In P. Robbins, D. Mulvaney and J.G. Golson (Eds.). Green Food Reference. London: Sage.

Gillon, S. 2010. Substitutionism. In P. Robbins, D. Mulvaney and J.G. Golson (Eds.). Green Food Reference. London: Sage.

DuPuis, E.M. and S. Gillon. 2009. Alternative modes of governance: Organic as civic engagement. Agriculture and Human Values 26(1-2): 43-56.

Gillon, S., L. Minkoff, and R. Thistlewaite. 2007. Grounding Ourselves: Innovative Land Tenure Models in California and Beyond. California Food and Justice Network Working Paper. Community Food Security Coalition.