Kathleen Sexsmith, Ph.D.

Kathleen Sexsmith, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor of Rural Sociology

Areas of Expertise

  • Farm labor
  • Illegality
  • Gender and Migration
  • International Development
  • Voluntary Sustainability Initiatives in Agriculture
  • Gender and Sustainable Agriculture
  • Global Service-Learning


  • PhD, Development Sociology, Cornell University (2017)
  • MPhil, Development Studies, University of Oxford (2008)
  • B.A., Economics, University of Manitoba (2005)


  • Gender and International Development (CED/WMNST 420W)
  • Community Development: Concepts and Practice (CED 152)
  • Development Issues in the Global Context (CED 230)
  • Community-engaged Learning with PA Farmworkers (CED 497)
  • Qualitative Research Methods (RSOC 514)
  • Gender and Agricultural Development (RSOC 597)

Research Interests

My research program looks broadly at gender and rural development, with both domestic and international areas of focus.  In the U.S., I study how gender, legal status, and geographical isolation shape integration among immigrants working in agricultural industries.  In particular, I look at social networks and transnational ways of life in non-traditional rural immigrant destinations.  My international research examines the gender dynamics of sustainable agriculture initiatives, including voluntary certifications, responsible investment, and climate-smart agricultural programming in the Global South.

Outreach Interests

My work has a community outreach and advocacy focus, although I do not have a formal extension appointment.  Here at Penn State, I continue to build partnerships with outreach and advocacy organizations that support vulnerable populations in agriculture.