Louise Fortmann

Professor of the Graduate School

image of Louise Fortmann


  • Ph.D. Rural Sociology Cornell University, 1973
  • BA Political Science Pennsylvania State University, 1968


Research Interests

Natural resource sociology, political ecology, rural development, gender

Research Description

[Please note: I am currently not accepting any new students.]

My students and I study the outcomes of natural resource use and management for individuals and for communities. My own research is located in northern California and southern Africa. My students work all over the world. Our combined research addresses five interrelated questions:

  1. gender- how do women and men differ in their access to, control of, management of and responsibility for providing natural resources and natural resource products. What are the social and ecological results of these differences.
  2. property-how are property rights and claims to natural resources structured and distributed and how does this affect people/communities dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods?
  3. poverty--what is the extent, nature and distribution of poverty among natural resource dependent households and communities and what causes it?
  4. community control of natural resources- what factors facilitate or impede community control and management of natural resources? What are the social and ecological outcomes of community control and management of natural resources?
  5. knowledge production- under what conditions are participatory research methods effective? What social structures and processes facilitate successful collaboration between professional and civil scientists

Current Projects

Longitudinal Tree Products Access Study

In collaboration with Dr. Nontokozo Nemarundwe, a Zimbabwean social scientist, I am conducting a longitudinal study of access to tree products under circumstances of major social change, including the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy.

Democratizing Science

In collaboration with colleagues at eight sites in six countries, I have been exploring participatory research processes. Our current focus is on the different viewpoints of professional scientists and local researchers who may not be professionally trained.

Read more about our research on my website.

Honors and Awards

Awards Award of Merit Rural Sociological Society Natural Resources Research Group - Rural Sociological Society Natural Resources Research Group - 2007

Recent Teaching

  • 155 - Sociology of Natural Resources
  • C255 - Seminar in Sociology of Forest and Wildland Resources
  • 301 - Professional Preparation: Teaching in Environmental Science, Poli

Contact Information

Email: louisef@berkeley.edu

Office: 121 Giannini Hall

Office Phone: 510-642-7018


Office Hours

Mondays 1:20-4:40  sign up sheets on my office door 121 Giannini

Research Group(s)

Mailing Address

Dept of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management
UC Berkeley
130 Mulford Hall #3114
Berkeley, CA 94720