Research Director of Community Food Systems and Social Sustainability



Hello! I am the Research Director of Community Food Systems and Social Sustainability, a new research and engagement position tied to CSU’s Spur Campus in Denver. Through engaged research, my work aims to contribute to our knowledge of community food systems, and agricultural sustainability efforts more broadly. I do this in several ways including leading and supporting research and evaluation, connecting students and researchers to community and institutional partners, partnering with organizations and institutions throughout the region, providing technical assistance, and facilitating educational experiences.


I have spent time in both practitioner and research settings including working as a Peace Corps agroforestry agent in Malawi, helping spearhead alternative food network projects in Colorado, and leading related research projects at Colorado State University and the Colorado School of Public Health. I was Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Sustainability at the University of Otago in New Zealand examining social sustainability and accountability in agricultural industry. Since 2019, I have worked on a variety of food systems related research and engagement at CSU. My work has been published in journals such as Geoforum, Local Environment, Journal of Rural Studies, Community Development, Agriculture and Human Values, Social Science and Medicine, and Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. Please feel free to get in touch!


Peer-Reviewed Publications

Hale, James, Aiden Irish, Michael Carolan, Jill Clark, Shoshanah Inwood, Becca Jablonski & Tom Johson. 2023. “A Systematic Review of Cultural Capital in U.S. Community Development Research.” Journal of Rural Studies 103.

Carolan, Michael, James Hale, Hilde Bjorkhaug, Angga Dwiartama, Maki Hatanaka, Midori Hiraga, Katherine Legun, Allison Loconto & Steven Wolf. “A Front Porch for Critical Agrifood Studies: Engagement Across the ‘Food System’ Boundaries.” The International Journal of Sociology of Food and Agriculture 28:2,1-6.

Hale, James, Katharine Legun & Hugh Campbell. 2022. “Accounting for Account-abilities: Examining the Relationship Between Farm Nutrient Measurement and Collaborative Water Governance Dynamics in Canterbury, New Zealand.” Journal of Rural Studies 92:451-461.

Hale, James, Meagan Schipanski & Michael Carolan. 2021. “Just Wheat Transitions?: Working Toward Constructive Structural Changes in Wheat Production.” Local Environment 26(1):43-59.

Jablonski, Kevin, Jasmine Dillon, James Hale, Becca Jablonski & Michael Carolan. 2020. “One Place Doesn’t Fit All: Improving the Effectiveness of Sustainability Standards by Accounting for Place.” Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 4:557-754.

Hale, James, Katharine Legun, Hugh Campbell & Michael Carolan. 2019. “Social Sustainability Indicators as Performance.” Geoforum 103:47-55.

Sbicca, Joshua, India Luxton, James Hale & Kassandra Roeser. 2019. “Networked Food Movement Collaboration and Concession: The Organizing of Incumbents and Challengers for Urban Food System Change.” Sustainability 11(10):2881.

Jablonski, Becca, Michael Carolan, James Hale et al. 2019. “Connecting Urban Food Plans to the Countryside: Leveraging Denver’s Food Vision to Build Meaningful Rural-Urban Linkages.” Sustainability 11(7):2200.

Hale, James & Michael Carolan. 2018. “Framing Co-operative Development: The Bridging Role of Cultural and Symbolic Value between Human and Material Resources.” Community Development 49(4):360-379.

Hale, James & Michael Carolan. 2018. “Cooperative or Uncooperative Co-operatives?: Digging into the Process of Cooperation in Food and Agriculture Co-operatives.” Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development 8(1):1-20.

Carolan, Michael & James Hale. 2016. “‘Growing’ Communities with Urban Agriculture: Generating Value Above and Below Ground.” Community Development 47(4):530-545.

Litt, Jill, S. Schmiege, James Hale, Michael Buchenau & F. Sancar. 2015. “Exploring Ecological, Emotional and Social Levers of Self-rated Health for Urban Gardeners and Non-gardeners: A Path Analysis.” Social Science and Medicine 144:1-8.

King, Diane, Jill Litt, James Hale, K. Burniece & C. Ross. 2015 “‘The Park a Tree Built’: Evaluating How a Park Development Project Impacted Where People Play.” Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 14(2):293-299.

McIvor, David & James Hale. 2015. “Urban Agriculture and the Prospects for Deep Democracy.” Agriculture and Human Values 32(4):727-741.

Hale, James, Corrie Knapp, Lisa Bardwell, Michael Buchenau, J. Marshall, F. Sancar & Jill Litt. 2011. “Connecting Food Environments and Health Through the Relational Nature of Aesthetics: Gaining Insight Through the Community Gardening Experience.” Social Science and Medicine 72:1853-1863.

Litt, Jill, M. Soobader, M. Turbin, James Hale, Michael Buchenau, J. Marshall. 2011 “Socio-Environmental Influences on Fruit and Vegetable Consumption: Understanding the Role of Social Involvement, Neighborhood Aesthetics and Community Garden Participation.” The American Journal of Public Health 101(8):1466-1473.

Book Chapters and Book Reviews

Hale, James & Michael Carolan. 2020. “Relational Resilience and the Making of Diverse Worlds.” in The Cambridge Handbook of Environmental Sociology, edited by Katharine Legun, Julie Keller, Michael Bell, & Michael Carolan, Cambridge University Press.

Hale, James. 2017. Review of “Fast-Food Kids: French Fries, Lunch Lines, and Social Ties.” by Amy Best, Humanity and Society 41(4):510-512.

McIvor, David & James Hale. 2016. “Common Roots: Urban Agriculture’s Potential for Cultivating Deep Democracy.” in Sowing Seeds in the City, Volume 2, edited by Sally Brown, Kristen McIvor and Elizabeth Snyder, New York: Springer.

Litt, Jill, James Hale, & Michael Buchenau. 2014. “Connecting People and Their Food Systems: Why Gardens Matter.” Perspective article in Introduction to the US Food System: Public Health, Environment, and Equity, edited by Roni Neff, Johns Hopkins University:Jossey-Bass.