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Cindy Isenhour

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Climate Change, University of Maine
Chapter Member: Maine SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Cindy

Isenhour's research is focused at the intersection of economic form and environmental impacts. In particular she has examined the economic and cultural logics linked to linear production-consumption-disposal systems and policies designed to reduce waste and ensure just and equitable transitions to more circular economic forms. She is a member of the materials management research group at the University of Maine and has worked extensively with state and local entities on waste reduction and reuse policy.


Protecting Waterways and Our Food Supply from “Forever Chemicals”

  • Brieanne Berry
  • Jean Macrae


"Toxicants, Entanglement, and Mitigation in New England’s Emerging Circular Economy for Food Waste" (with Jean Macrae, Michael Haedicke, Brieanne Berry, Travis Blackmer, and Skyler Horton). Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 12 (2022): 341–353.

Describes some of the complexities of solid waste management in rural areas - and the bind managers get into when materials they are trying to recover are contaminated.

"Composition and Contamination of Source Separated Food Waste From Different Sources and Regulatory Environments" (with Jean Macrae, Astha Thakali, and Travis Blackmer). Journal of Environmental Management 314, no. 15 (2022).

Explains composition and contamination of Source Separated Food Waste from Different Sources and Regulatory Environments.  Discovers that requiring source separation of food did NOT result in more significant contamination. Metal concentrations in food waste were low, but PFAS were detectable in 60% of samples and antibiotic resistance genes were detectable in almost all of them. Created By

"Negotiating the Future of the Adaptation Fund: On the Politics of Defining and Defending Justice in the Post-Paris Agreement Period" (with Anna McGinn). Climate Policy 21, no. 3 (2020): 383-395 .

Draws on narrative political analysis of negotiating texts and observations at meetings of the Conference of the Parties (COP), we argue that the Adaptation Fund negotiations became a particularly intense site for the contestation of justice-based norms in international climate policy. Explores how this unwavering support for the Adaptation Fund—and the claims to distributive and procedural justice it represents—could impact not only Fund governance and structure in the post-Paris Agreement period, but also the success of future adaptation efforts and the Paris Agreement itself.

"Integrating the Social Sciences to Enhance Climate Literacy" (with Rachael Shwom, Rebecca C. Jordan, Aaron McCright, and and Jennifer Meta Robinson). Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 15, no. 7 (2017): 377-384.

Argues that understanding human behavior and the social drivers of climate change are essential for the public to fully appreciate the climate system, and that this knowledge can inform decision making related to climate-change mitigation and adaptation. Suggests two new social science principles that could advance interdisciplinary climate literacy goals.

"Maine’s Culture of Reuse and Its Potential to Advance Environmental and Economic Policy Objectives" (with Andrew Crawley, Brieanne Berry, and and Jennifer Bonnet). Maine Policy Review 26, no. 1 (2017): 36-46.

Suggests that Maine has a vibrant but underestimated reuse economy, while finding that reuse has promise to enhance economic resilience and contribute to culturally appropriate economic development.

"Unearthing Human Progress? Ecomodernism and Contrasting Definitions of Technological Progress in the Anthropocene" Economic Anthropology 3, no. 2 (2016): 315-328.

Traces the perspectives of "ecomodernism" and its critics to fundamentally different views on the nature of technology and progress, both with deep theoretical roots familiar to economic and environmental anthropologists. Argues that the dominant emphasis on technological progress, though hopeful, is linked to affluent urban perspectives that delegitimize more aggressive and just proposals for climate mitigation and human progress.