Professor, Department of Global Development
Broadly understood, development is not merely a transactional and technical process for achieving material and economic ends. It is also a relational and civic process—and kind of work—that has social and political dimensions, in pursuit of purposes and ends that are human and cultural in nature. As an engaged scholar and educator, Scott Peters uses a variety of sociological, historical, philosophical, and pedagogical tools to illuminate and explore complex dynamics in the theory and practice of development. He is especially interested in understanding and supporting participatory varieties of development that seek to build and sustain a democratic culture that cultivates people’s individual and collective leadership, agency, voice, power, knowledge, creativity, and imagination.
Professor Peters contextualizes his research in the national system of land-grant colleges and universities, which has long functioned as a development agency on the global stage. He studies the history of the land-grant mission, with a focus on the ways it has been operationalized through extension work. He uses oral history and narrative inquiry to explore the development work and experiences of scientists, engineers, scholars, artists, extension professionals, and community organizers.
- O’Connell, D.J. and Peters, S.J. (2021, in press). In the Struggle: Scholars and the Fight against Industrial Agribusiness in California. New York: New Village Press.
- Peters, S.J., Alter, T.R., and Shaffer, T.J. (eds.) (2018). Jumping into Civic Life: Stories of Public Work from Extension Professionals. Dayton, OH: Kettering Foundation Press.
- Peters, S.J. (with Alter, T.R., and Schwartzbach, N.) (2010). Democracy and Higher Education: Traditions and Stories of Civic Engagement. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.
- Peters, S.J., O’Connell, D., Alter, T.R., and Jack, A. (Eds.) (2006). Catalyzing Change: Profiles of Cornell Cooperative Extension Educators from Greene, Tompkins, and Erie Counties, New York. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Cooperative Extension.
- Peters, S.J., Jordan, N.R., Adamek, M. and Alter, T.R. (Eds.) (2005). Engaging Campus and Community: The Practice of Public Scholarship in the State and Land-Grant University System. Dayton, OH: Kettering Foundation Press.
- Peters, S.J. and Hittleman, M.J, (eds.) (2003). We Grow People: Profiles of Extension Educators, Cornell University Cooperative Extension, New York City. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Articles and Chapters
- Peters, S.J. (2021, in press). The Prophetic Aspiration of the Scholar as Human. In A.S. Bartel and D.A. Castillo (eds.) The Scholar as Human: Research and Teaching for Public Impact. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
- Peters, S.J. (2017). Recovering a Forgotten Lineage of Democratic Engagement. In C. Dogan, T.K. Eatman, and T.D. Mitchell (eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Service Learning and Community Engagement. New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Peters, S.J. (2015). A democracy’s college tradition. In H.C. Boyte (ed.), Democracy’s Education: Public Work, Citizenship, and the Future of Higher Education. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.
- Peters, S.J. (2014). Extension reconsidered. Choices 29:1.
- Peters, S.J. and Avila, M. (2014). Organizing for culture change through community-based research. In R. Munck, L. McIlrath, B. Hall and R. Tandon (eds.), Higher Education and Community-Based Research: Creating a Global Vision. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
- Peters, S.J. (2013). Storying and Restorying the Land-Grant System. In R.L. Geiger and N.M. Sorber (eds.), The Land-Grant Colleges and the Reshaping of American Higher Education. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
- Peters, S.J. and Wals, A. (2013). Learning and knowing in pursuit of sustainability: Concepts and tools for trans-disciplinary environmental research. In M. Krasny and J. Dillon, (eds.), Trading Zones in Environmental Education: Creating Transdisciplinary Dialogue. New York: Peter Lang.
- Peters, S.J. (2013). The Pursuit of Happiness, Public and Private. Preface in Ruby Green Smith, The People’s Colleges: A History of the New York State Extension Service in Cornell University and the State, 1876-1948. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
- Peters, S.J. (2012). The politics of building sustainability together. In Global University Network for Innovation (GUNI), Higher Education in the World 4: Higher Education's Commitment to Sustainability: from Understanding to Action. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Morgan, P.A. and Peters, S.J. (2006). The foundations of planetary agrarianism: Thomas Berry and Liberty Hyde Bailey. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, Vol. 19, No. 5: 443-468.
- Peters, S.J. (2006). Every farmer should be awakened: Liberty Hyde Bailey's vision of agricultural extension work. Agricultural History, Vol. 80, No. 2: 190-219.
- Peters, S.J. (2004). Educating the civic professional: Reconfigurations and resistances. Michigan Journal of Community Service-Learning, Vol. 11, No. 1: 47-58.
- Peters, S.J. and Morgan, P.A. (2004). The country life commission: Reconsidering a milestone in American agricultural history. Agricultural History, Vol. 78, No. 3: 289-316.
Grant funded research
- “Performing Our Future” action-research initiative. Funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, $225,000 (2016-2018, with 2 other co-PI’s).
- “Civic Science: Reframing the Role of Science in Society” workshop. Funded by the National Science Foundation, $50,106 (2014, with 4 other Co-PI’s).
- “Extension Reconsidered” action-research initiative. Funded by the Kettering Foundation, $15,000, and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, $10,000 (2013-2014).
- Food Dignity: Action Research on Engaging Food Insecure Communities and Universities in Building Sustainable Community Food Systems. Funded by AFRI-USDA, $4,983,479 (2011-2016, with Christine Porter as Co-PI).
- Organizing, Cultivating, and Sustaining Democratic Publics. Funded by the Kettering Foundation, $168,500 (2009-2012).
- From Rust-to-Green: Mapping a Sustainable Future for Upstate New York. Funded by Hatch-USDA, $15,000 (2009-2012, with Paula Horrigan as lead PI).
- Democracy and Higher Education. Funded by the Kettering Foundation, $76,500 (2005-2009).
- Engaging Campus and Community: The Practice of Public Scholarship in the State and Land-Grant University System. Funded by the Kettering Foundation, $70,000 (2000-2005).
- Doctorate, University of Minnesota, 1998
- Master's Degree, University of Minnesota, 1995
- Bachelor of Science, University of Illinois, 1983
Political theory & public philosophy
Community organizing & development
- DSOC 4400: Capstone for Community Food System Minor
- DSOC 4700: Senior Capstone in Development Sociology
- DSOC/NTRES/PMA 4820: Agents of Change: Organizing for the Public Good
- DSOC 6820: Community Organizing and Development
Warren Hall 264
Ithaca, NY 14853
sp236 [at] cornell.edu
Scott in the news
Peters, O'Connell to conduct participatory action research as University of Minnesota Endowed Chairs
Cornell CALS Professor Scott J. Peters to lead participatory action research into issues of justice, sovereignty, equity and sustainability in food and farming systems at University of Minnesota.
- Department of Global Development
This is the second in a series of stories detailing actions CALS students, faculty and staff have taken over the past year to make our community a more diverse, equitable and inclusive place for everyone. Here, we highlight college efforts to design a more inclusive curriculum and detail some of the courses CALS faculty have developed or adapted to address issues of racial, social, gender, economic and environmental justice.
- Department of Entomology
- Department of Global Development
- Natural Resources and the Environment