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Thomas Smucker

Tom Smucker, portrait
Associate Professor & Graduate Chair
Lindley N264, Athens Campus

Office Hours

 Fall 2021: Tuesday 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.; Friday 10 noon

Recent News


Ph.D., Michigan State University, 2003


  • Environment and development
  • Rural livelihood systems
  • Food systems and food security
  • Adaptation to climate change
  • Environmental governance
  • African drylands

Dr. Smucker is a geographer who specializes in environment-development interactions in East Africa. His areas of teaching specialization include human geography, food systems and food security, the human dimensions of global environmental change, and theories of international development.  His research has examined the political-ecological drivers of livelihood change in East Africa with a concern for how climate extremes may alter long-term livelihood transitions. He has contributed to several NSF-funded interdisciplinary projects assessing climate change adaptation challenges in East Africa, including the East Africa Climate, People and Savannah Ecosystems Project (EACLIPSE) and the Local Knowledge and Climate Change Adaptation Project (LKCCAP).   Recent graduate students have pursued thesis research in Ghana, the Gambia, Kenya, Tanzania, India, and Brazil.  He currently serves as a Contributing Author on the 6th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability).  His recent field research examines institutional bridges and barriers to greater integration among climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, and land restoration capacities within multilevel governance systems in East Africa. 

Courses Taught

  • GEOG 1200: Human Geography
  • GEOG 3400/5400: Geographies of Development
  • GEOG 3410/5410: Geography of Hunger and Food Security
  • GEOG 3431: Global Issues in Environmental Geography
  • GEOG 6420: Theories of Development (cross-listed as INST 5400: Pro-Seminar in International Development)


Advising and Mentoring Award, Center for International Studies, 2021

Recipient, 2020-21 Grasselli Brown Outstanding Teacher Award

Representative Publications

Smucker, T., Oulu, M., and Nijbroek, R. 2020. Institutional Foundations for Convergence: Sub-National Collaboration at the Nexus of Disaster Risk Reduction, Climate Change Adaptation, and Land Restoration under Devolved Governance in Kenya. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 51: 101-116.

Smucker, T., and Wisner, B. 2020.  Fishing for a Future: Local Institutions, Aspirations, and Agency in a Complex Climate Adaptation System. Tanzania Journal of Development Studies. Vol 18(1): 18(1): 81-204.

Smucker, T., Wisner, B., and Maingi, S. 2020. NGOs and Natural Hazards Governance in Africa. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazards Science. Oxford University Press.  Available at: 9780199389407.001.0001/ acrefore-9780199389407-e-332  

Nijbroek R; Smucker T.; Oulu M. 2019. The CDR Nexus: Convergence of Climate Change Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction, and Land Restoration in Kajiado, Kitui, and Makueni Counties, Kenya. CIAT Policy Brief No. 46. International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). 6 p. Available at: 107739/CIAT_PB%2046%20CDR%20NEXUS.pdfk

Wangui, E. and Smucker, T. 2018. Gendered Constraints to Scaling Up: A Case Study of Spontaneous Adaptation in a Pastoralist Community in Mwanga District, Tanzania. Climate and Development 10(4): 369-376.

Velempini, K. Smucker, T, and Clem C. 2018. Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Variability and Change: Mapping and Assessment of Water Resource Management Challenges in the North Pare Highlands, Tanzania. African Geographical Review 37: 30-48.

Smucker, T, and Wangui, E. 2016. Gendered Local Knowledge and Adaptive Practices: Differentiation and Change in Mwanga District, Tanzania. Ambio 45(S3): 45(3), 276-286.

Iniesta-Arandia, I., Ravera, F., Buechler, S., Díaz-Reviriego, I., Fernández-Giménez, M., Reed, M., Thompson-Hall, M., Wilmer, H., Aregu, L., Cohen, P., Djoudi, H., Lawless, S., Martín-López, B., Smucker, T., Villamor, G., Wangui., E. 2016. A Synthesis of Convergent Reflections, Tensions and Silences in Linking Gender and Global Environmental Change Research. Ambio 45 (3 suppl.): 383–93.

Rai, P. and Smucker, T. 2016. Empowering through Entitlement? The Micropolitics of Food Access in Maharashtra State, India. Journal of Rural Studies 45: 260-269.

Asaka, J. and Smucker, T. 2016. Assessing the Role of Mobile Phone Communication in Drought-Related Mobility Patterns of Samburu Pastoralists. Journal of Arid Environments 128: 12-16.