The School of the Environment Welcomes Professor Michael Classens

August 9, 2021 by Kiran Champatsingh

Michael Classens has joined the School of the Environment as an Assistant Professor, teaching stream. Additionally, he will take a lead role in running the School's new Certificate in Sustainability, including teaching the new foundation and capstone courses for the certificate.

Prior to joining the School, Classens taught in Trent University’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program for the past three years. His research is focused broadly on questions of social and environmental sustainability, with a particular focus on how these dynamics are frustrated by, and enabled through, food systems. “I am particularly interested in how positive social and environmental change is animated through food systems governance, organizing and activism,” says Classens. “This, in turn, informs my commitment to community-based, action-focused research and teaching.” 

Classens was drawn to the School’s interdisciplinary, diverse approaches to, and understandings of, sustainability. “The School of the Environment is committed to grappling with this analytical, conceptual, and theoretical complexity while also engaging with the realpolitik of change-making required of the contemporary moment. This is a rare combination of commitments, and I am excited to work alongside, and learn with, the students, staff and faculty in the School of the Environment,” he says. 

He is optimistic that the Certificate in Sustainability will provide students with an opportunity to develop a wholistic, critically-informed, and enduring sustainability lens through which they interpret the world well beyond their days in the School of the Environment. “The Certificate provides a space for collaboration between students, staff, faculty and community partners to challenge teaching and learning orthodoxies and discover mutually beneficial and impactful ways of learning together,” he says.
“I hope that the Certificate program itself can become a source of positive social and ecological change in our city, and beyond, through community-informed experiential learning and action.”