SERSD student 2021-2023




Profile summary

  • Environmental governance
  • Equitable food systems transformations
  • Social-ecological resilience
  • Intersectionality
  • Co-production of knowledge
  • Civil society engagement

Elissa Dickson is interested in community-based movements and environmental governance for equitable food system transformation

Dickson is interested in community-based movements and environmental governance for equitable food system transformation. SRC’s trust-based collaborative culture and transdisciplinary research environment inspires Dickson.

She is curious about linking understandings of place-based dynamics and multi-scalar interactions to interrogate how power and agency operate in efforts to transform food systems. She plans to study the possibilities and limitations of regenerative agricultural transitions for her thesis.

In her undergraduate studies, Dickson discovered her passion for integrating social and natural science to address humanity’s interlinked social-ecological challenges. She holds a BS from University of Michigan’s Honors College with double majors in Biology and French and double minors in Environmental Policy and Anthropology.

As a sophomore fellow with the Undergraduate Research Opportunity (UROP), Dickson conducted research on aquatic ecology and ecosystem services in Michigan wetlands. Her senior thesis Belo Horizonte’s Progressive Food Security Program: Linking Urban Governance and Rural Sustainability explored equity and resilience in a city-region food system in Brazil.

After university, Dickson lived in the arid American southwest for 11 years, where she worked as a public programs librarian, organizing events that engaged her community with sustainability issues. She also did outreach for Telluride Mountainfilm, a social-environmental documentary film festival, connecting schools and communities around the world with the festival’s inspiring films and changemakers.

Experiencing climate change-driven snowless winters and summer wildfires in her region, Dickson felt compelled to pursue graduate studies in sustainability to learn to work not just as a community facilitator, but also as a researcher. Having also worked as a journalist covering the environment, Dickson is passionate about communicating research to the public in inclusive and productive ways.

Dickson looks forward to diving deep into transdisciplinary research approaches that unite academia and civil society to find solutions to the planet’s greatest socio-environmental challenges.

Awards and Achievements

  • Michigan Merit Award Scholarship
  • James B. Angell Scholar (As in all classes for consecutive undergraduate terms)
  • Kenneth Buckfire Scholarship for 5th year of undergraduate study
  • Co-author of book chapter in environmental humanities: Geopoetics as collaborative encounter: Performing poetic political ecologies of the Colorado River. Ch. 18 in Geopoetics in Practice. Magrane, Eric et al. (eds.). Routledge.
  • “Return of the lynx: once again this elusive feline haunts the forests of the San Juans” feature piece in Shelter Magazine
  • “Geotagging responsibly: Little Hawaii example of how social media can lead to overuse” in the Telluride Daily Planet