Dr. Michèle Companion is an associate professor at The University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Her teaching and research interests include law, federal Indian policy, Native communities, indigenous rights, international development, social movements, social problems, and food and livelihood security issues. She received her Ph.D. (2003) in Sociology from the University of Arizona. Her dissertation was entitled "Embracing Autonomy: The Impact of Socio-cultural and Political Factors on Tribal Health Care Management Levels."
Her previous research with Native American tribes includes tribal health care management systems, public policy opportunities that arise for reservation populations as a result of changes in laws, and the impact of tribal participation in specific development programs on reservation health outcomes. She has spent the last several years focusing on reservation nutritional dynamics, including impacts of low income diets on overall health and on reservation food security issues. She has also been documenting tribal participation in the food sovereignty movement to reclaim cultural aspects of traditional foods. She has worked extensively on reservations across the southwest.
More recently, she has been focusing on urban Indian populations. Again, the issues of food security and long-term health implications frame her focus. In addition to urban food secuirty, she has been looking at cultural barriers to healthy eating among low-income urban Indian populations. She has been working with various urban Indian Centers across the United States to pilot educational modules aimed at increasing food access, improve health outcomes, and helping urban Indians reconnect with cultural aspects of traditional foods. This includes establishing "Bucket Brigades." This multiphasic program teaches container gardening to both adults and children.
Dr. Companion has also worked extensively as a food and livelihood security consultant to international humanitarian aid organizations. She has worked extensively across Africa in countries such as Malawi, Mozambique, Angola, South Africa, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Somalia with organizations that include Save the Children – US, USAID, Counterpart International, FEWSNET, International Relief and Development, and Global Food and Nutrition, Inc. Her current work in this area focuses on the expansion of food security indicators to increase local sensitivity to food crisis triggers.
Companion, Michèle. Fall/Winter 2010. Commodities and Competition: the economic
marginalization of female food vendors in northern Mozambique. Women's Studies Quarterly 38(3&4): 163-181.
Companion, Michèle. 2010. "Information Commodification and Social Capital in Local Street Markets." in DeMond Miller and Jason Rivera, eds. Community Disaster Recovery and Resiliency: Exploring Global Opportunities and Challenges. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, 205-222.
Publications Under Development:
"Obesogenic cultural drift and nutrition transtition: Identifying barriers to healthier food consumption in urban Native American populations" Currently under review at Social Forces.
"Lessons from 'the Bucket Brigade': The Role of urban gardens in Native American cultural continuance." Currently under development for consideration at The Journal for Urban Affairs.
"Food security and urban agriculture in northern Mozambique: Impacts on female-headed households." Currently under development for consideration at The Journal of Applied Social Science.