Clare Hinrichs, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Rural Sociology
Clare Hinrichs, Ph.D.
111-D Armsby
University Park, PA 16802
Work Phone: 814-863-8628

Areas of Expertise

  • food systems
  • sustainable agriculture
  • agrarian change
  • sustainability


  1. Ph.D., Development Sociology, Cornell University, 1993


Research Interests

My research broadly addresses questions of how transitions to sustainability are understood, negotiated, organized, contested and assessed.  Substantively, much of my work occurs at the intersection between agriculture, food systems and the environment. Current research projects examine 1) the organization, ideologies and impacts of local and alternative food initiatives and movements; 2) regional food system development and discourses of food security; and 3) social, ethical and land use implications of renewable energy production and development.  

Outreach/Extension Interests

Although I do not have a formal extension appointment, I see public engagement as an important part of my academic work.  I try to link useful findings from my research to Penn State Outreach and Extension efforts related to community development, sustainable food systems, agricultural innovation, and environmental management.  I also partner with various non-governmental and governmental organizations that are interested in using community-based applied research to inform and improve projects, programs and policies.

Current/Recent Courses

  • RSoc 597B: Sustainability: Frameworks, Theories, and Practice
  • RSoc 597C: Qualitative Research Methods
  • CED 427 W: Society and Natural Resources
  • CED 497: Changing Food Systems

Recent Selected Publications

Burnham, Morey, Weston Eaton, Theresa Selfa, Clare Hinrichs and Andrea Feldpausch-Parker. 2017. The politics of imaginaries and bioenergy sub-niches in the emerging northeast U.S. bioenergy economy. Geoforum 82: 66-76.

Eaton, Weston M., Morey Burnham, C. Clare Hinrichs and Theresa Selfa. 2017. Bioenergy experts and their imagined "obligatory publics" in the United States: Implications for public engagement and participation. Energy Research and Social Science 25: 65-75.

Bloom, J. Dara and C. Clare Hinrichs. 2017. The long reach of lean retailing: Firm embeddedness and Wal-Mart's implementation of local produce sourcing in the U.S. Environment and Planning A 49(1): 168-185.

Hinrichs, Clare. 2016. Fixing food with ideas of "local" and "place." Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 6(4): 759-764.

Hinrichs, Clare and John Eshleman. 2014. Agrifood movements: Diversity, aims, limits. Pp. 138-155 in Rural America in a Globalizing World: Problems and Prospects for the 2010s, edited by C. Bailey, L. Jensen and E. Ransom. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Press.

Hinrichs, C. Clare. 2014. Transitions to sustainability: A change in thinking about food systems change? Agriculture and Human Values 31: 143-155.

Hinrichs, C. Clare. 2013. Regionalizing food security? Imperatives, intersections and contestations in a post-9/11 world. Journal of Rural Studies 29: 7-18.

Hinrichs, Clare and Liz Charles. 2012. Local food systems and networks in the US and the UK: Community development considerations for rural areas. Pp. 156-176 in Rural Transformations and Rural Policies in the UK and US, edited by M. Shucksmith, D. Brown, S. Shortall, M. Warner and J. Vergunst. Routledge Series on Development and Society.

Rossi, Alissa M. and C. Clare Hinrichs. 2011. Hope and skepticism: Farmer and local community views on the socio-economic benefits of agricultural bioenergy. Biomass and Bioenergy 35: 1418-1428.

Bloom, J. Dara and C. Clare Hinrichs. 2011. Moving local food through conventional food system infrastructure: Value chain framework comparisons and insights. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 26(1): 13-23.

Hinrichs, C. Clare. 2010. Sustainable food systems: Challenges of social justice and a call to sociologists . Sociological Viewpoints 26(2): 7-18. [Keynote address, 2009 meeting of Pennsylvania Sociological Society]

Hinrichs, C. Clare. 2010. Conceptualizing and creating sustainable food systems: How interdisciplinarity can help. Pp. 17-36 in Imagining Sustainable Food Systems: Theory and Practice, edited by Alison Blay-Palmer. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.

Bagdonis, Jessica M., C. Clare Hinrichs and Kai A. Schafft. 2009. The emergence and framing of farm-to-school initiatives: Civic engagement, health and local agriculture. Agriculture and Human Values 26: 107-119.

Hinrichs, C. Clare and Patricia Allen. 2008. Selective patronage and social justice: Local food consumer campaigns in historical context. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 21: 329-352.

Hinrichs, C. Clare. 2008. Interdisciplinarity and boundary work: Challenges and opportunities for agrifood studies. Agriculture and Human Values 25(2): 209-213.