Jesse Ribot


  • Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley - Energy and Resources Group (ERG)
  • M.S., UC Berkeley, ERG
  • B.A. Hampshire College

Biography   Jesse Ribot is a Professor of Geography with appointments in the Department of Anthropology, School of Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, Global Studies, Women and Gender in Global Perspective (WGGP), and Institute for Sustainability, Energy and the Environment (iSEE), and is on the faculty of the College of Humanities and Development Studies of China Agricultural University in Beijing. He is also a co-director and co-founder of the Initiative on Climate Adaptation Research and Understanding through the Social Sciences (ICARUS). Before coming to Illinois Ribot was a Senior Associate in the Institutions and Governance program at the World Resources Institute from 1999 to 2008. He has been a visiting professor in Politics at the New School for Social Research in New York, and a or fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Yale Program in Agrarian Studies, Center for the Critical Analysis of Contemporary Culture at Rutgers, MacArthur Fellow at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, and a Fellow at the Stanford Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences. From 1991-94 he was a lecturer in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. He also advises foreign governments and international development agencies.

Research   Professor Ribot conducts research in four inter-linked arenas: 1) decentralization and democratic local government; 2) natural resource tenure and access; 3) distribution along natural resource commodity chains; and 4) household vulnerability in the face of environmental change. Most recently he has been integrating across these arenas in a study of emigration from the Sahel to Europe. He uses a political-economy approach drawing on disciplines of sociology, anthropology, political science, political philosophy and geography. He develops in-situ research-based education programs, and has used comparative research to train over eighty young scholars in their own countries to conduct in-depth policy research and to translate that research into scholarly writing and policy relevant briefs and seminars. For more details on his research see the attached CV and see the SDEP web page (