Assistant Professor, Department of Global Development
John Zinda studies how people and environments make and remake each other. His research and teaching examine how state policy initiatives come into landscapes and converge with the individual and collective practices of people in those landscapes. He is assistant professor in the Department of Global Development at Cornell University and a faculty affiliate in Cornell’s East Asia Program and the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability.
As an environmental sociologist, John studies how people make and respond to environmental change and how groups of people do or do not work out concerns about the material world. One body of work examines how environmental protection and development efforts in rural China interplay with community politics, farming, migration, and forest change. A second examines how people in flood-affected communities respond to risks arising both from flooding and from policies intended to address flood hazards through insurance and infrastructure. Engaging with community groups and local and state governments, he works to build knowledge to underpin just and equitable responses to changing flood regimes.
John teaches courses in environmental sociology, risk and disaster, and spatial thinking and geographic information systems. His teaching focuses on working with students to link conceptual understandings around our relationships with the more-than-human world to concrete instances across the expanse of human and ecological variety. Students draw on this knowledge to make mapping analyses that center the concerns of human groups and stories that illuminate struggles for social and environmental change.
Awards and Honors
- A.H. Kolb Award (2013) Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, University of Wisconsin - Madison
- Zinda, John A., James Zhang, Lindy B. Williams, David L. Kay, and Sarah M. Alexander*, and Libby Zemaitis. 2022. Different Hazards, Different Responses: Assessments of Flooding and COVID-19 Risks among Upstate New York Residents. Socius 8:23780231211069215.
- Zinda, John, Lindy B. Williams, David L. Kay, and Sarah M. Alexander. 2021. Flood Risk Perception and Responses among Urban Residents in the Northeastern United States. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 64: 102528.
- Zinda, John and Jun He. 2020. Ecological Civilization in the Mountains: How Walnuts Boomed and Busted in Southwest China. The Journal of Peasant Studies 47(5):1052-1076.
- Kuras, Evan R., Paige S. Warren, John Zinda, Myla F. J. Aronson, Sarel Cilliers, Mark A. Goddard, Charles H. Nilon, and Richelle Winkler. 2020. Urban Socioeconomic Inequality and Biodiversity Often Converge, but Not Always: A Global Meta-Analysis. Landscape and Urban Planning 198:103799.
- Zinda, John and Shrey Kapoor. 2019. Metabolic Fractures: How Household Livelihood Practices Differentiate Agricultural Input Use in Southwest China. Journal of Rural Studies 71:1-12.
- Zinda, John and Zhiming Zhang. 2019. Explaining Heterogeneous Afforestation Outcomes: How Community Officials and Households Mediate Tree Cover Change in China. World Development 122: 385-398.
- Zinda, John and Zhiming Zhang. 2018. Stabilizing Forests and Communities: Accommodative Buffering within China’s Collective Forest Tenure Reform. The China Quarterly 235: 828-848.
- Zinda, John and Zhiming Zhang. 2018. Land Tenure Legacies, Household Life-Cycles, and Livelihood Strategies in Upland China. Rural Sociology 83(1): 51-80.
- Zinda, John, Christine J. Trac, and Stevan Harrell. 2017. Dual-Function Forests in the Returning Farmland to Forest Program and the Flexibility of Environmental Policy in China. Geoforum 78: 119-132.
- Zinda, John. 2017. Tourism Dynamos: Selective Commodification and Developmental Conservation in China’s Protected Areas. Geoforum 78: 141-152.
Flood Risk Perception and Responses among Urban Residents in the Northeastern United States. Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, 10 August 2021.
What are city residents thinking and doing about flooding? Responses from Troy and Kingston. Waterfront Resilience Partners Spring Meeting, 26 April 2021.
Care, Crops, and Cash: Women’s and Men’s Off-Farm Work Decisions in Upland Southwest China. Rural Sociology Lecture Series, Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education. The Pennsylvania State University (online), 23 April 2021.
Varieties of Authoritarian Environmentalism: Tracing Shifting Environmental Governance in China. Panel: Disaster Capitalism, Ecofascism, and Ecoauthoritarianism. UMass Amherst History Department Feinberg Series. University of Massachusetts, Amherst (online), 4 March 2021.
Recent Courses Taught
- DSOC 3240: Environmental Sociology
- DSOC 3140: Spatial Thinking, GIS, and Related Methods
- DSOC 6210: Fundamentals of Environmental Sociology
- DSOC 6340: Risk and Disaster
- Doctorate, University of Wisconsin - Madison, 2013
- Master of Science, University of Michigan, 2007
- Certificate, Johns Hopkins University - Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies, 2005
- Bachelor of Arts, Vanderbilt University, 2003
Risk and disaster
251A Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
jaz65 [at] cornell.edu
John in the news
In flood-prone New York, non-white homeowners are more likely to take active measures – like protecting a furnace or installing a sump pump – to prepare for deluge, says Cornell research.
- Department of Global Development
- Climate Change
The Polson Institute for Global Development announced its fall 2022 grants to support research at the intersection of systemic inequality and social-environmental justice.
- Polson Institute for Global Development
- Department of Global Development
- Global Development