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Dr. Thomas Smucker, Assistant Professor
Clippinger 111

Office Hours: Tuesday 3:00-5:00, Wednesday 10:00-12:00 or by appointment

Ph.D., Michigan State U., 2003




As a Geographer specializing in the interactions between the environment and human development, my teaching includes courses such as Human Geography, Global Issues in Environmental Geography, Geography of Hunger and Food Security, Senior Seminar in Geography, and Theories of Development.   In the broadest terms, my research is concerned with understanding intersections of livelihood and resource management, primarily through the lens of nature-society and development geography.  More specifically, my East Africa-focused research has examined livelihood diversification, household and community strategies for coping with drought, and the implications for social development in pastoral and agro-pastoral communities.  As PI of the NSF-funded Local Knowledge and Climate Change Adaptation Project (LKCCAP), my current research examines geographical inequality and interdependence in adaptive capacity to climate change along four altitudinal gradients in northern Tanzania.   An overarching concern of the work described above is to better understand the political and ethical dilemmas - as well as possibilities - that confront researchers who employ participatory methodologies. I have also conducted research on environmental identity and domestic water use in the United States, examining the cultural politics of xeriscaping in Florida.  My research has appeared in Human Ecology, Field Methods, Disasters, Environment and Planning D, and the Journal of Alpine Research and has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Fulbright IIE, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Courses Taught
  • GEOG 1200: Human Geography
  • GEOG 3410/5410: Geography of Hunger and Food Security
  • GEOG 3431: Global Issues in Environmental Geography
  • GEOG 4800: Senior Seminar in Geography
  • GEOG 6420: Theories of Development


Representative Publications

Smucker, T., Wisner, B., Mascarenhas, A., Munishi, P. K., Wangui, E. E., Sinha, G., Weiner, D., Bwenge, C., Lovell, E. 2015. “Differentiated Livelihoods, Local Institutions, and the Adaptation Imperative: Assessing Climate Change Adaptation Policy in Tanzania” Geoforum 59: 39-50.

Wangui, E., Smucker, T., Wisner, B., Lovell, E., Maingi, S., Sinha, G, Mascarenhas, A., Weiner, D., Meena, H, and Munishi, P. 2012.  Integrated Development, Risk Management and Community-Based Climate Change Adaptation in a Mountain-Plains System in Northern Tanzania.  Revue de géographie alpine/Journal of Alpine Research 100(1): 2-16.

Smucker, T. 2011. Drought.  Routledge Handbook of Hazards, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, eds., Ilan Kelman, JC Gaillard, and Ben Wisner, 257-269.  London-New York: Routledge.

Mustafa D., Smucker T., Ginn F., Johns R., Connely S. 2010, "Xeriscape People and the Cultural Politics of Turfgrass Transformation" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 28(4): 600–617.

Smucker, T. and Wisner, B. 2008. “Changing Household Responses to Drought in Tharaka, Kenya: Vulnerability, Persistence, and Challenge”. Disasters 32(2): 190-215.

Smucker, T., Campbell, D.J., Olson, J., Wangui, E. 2007. “Contemporary Challenges of Participatory Field Research for Land Use Change Analyses: Examples from Kenya”.  Field Methods 19 (4): 384-406.

Selected Student Projects

Rai, Pronoy, 2013, MA International Development Studies
Thesis title: The Indian State and the Micropolitics of Food Entitlement

Nguyen, Hanh, 2012, MA International Development Studies
Thesis title: Access to Natural, Financial and Social Capital and Livelihood Strategies under the Payment for Forest Environmental Services (PFES) Pilot Policy in Da Nhim Commune, Lam Dong Province, Vietnam

Maingi, Solomon, 2012, MA Geography, 2011, MA Geography
Thesis title: Examining Spatial and Socioeconomic Differentiation of Drought Coping Strategies among the Border Communities of Taveta District, Kenya

Magadla, Siphokazi, 2010, MA International Development Studies
Thesis title: The 16th County: Role of Diaspora Liberians in Land Reform, Reconciliation and Development in Liberia