Michèle Companion, Ph.D.
Dr. Michèle Companion is a professor and the Chair of the Sociology Department 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, disaster mitigation, preparedness and recovery, 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 Native American populations. Again, the issues of food security and long-term health implications frame her focus. In addition to urban food security, 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 Native Americans 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 continued her work on cultural survival and traditional food and livelihood continuity, incorporating the newest information about the impacts of climate change on these broader issues. One avenue for her work is through the Lowland Center in southern Louisiana, where she serves as an At Large Board member. https://www.lowlandercenter.org/
Dr. Companion has also worked extensively as a food and livelihood security consultant to international humanitarian aid organizations. She has worked in Haiti and 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. Work in this area focuses on the expansion of food security indicators to increase local sensitivity to food crisis triggers and the impact of disaster-fueled migration on female street food vendors. Recent work looks at the role of material culture production as a form of livelihood adaptation strategy and impacts on refugees and the internally displaced.
Her most recent work examines food and livelihood security challenges in urban zones are part of disaster preparedness, mitigation, and climate adaptation strategies. She spent 3 months conducting a detailed site mapping project in Kyoto, Japan, where she was serving as a Visiting Research Professor in the Maki Lab at the Disaster Prevention Research Institute (DPRI) (Integrated Arts and Sciences for Disaster Reduction Research Group, Research Division of Disaster Management for Safe and Secure Society, International Collaboration for Disaster Management Program) at Kyoto University.
She is actively involved in numerous academic and professional organizations. She co-chairs of the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association's International Activities Committee, recently served as program co-coordinator for the Research Committee on the Sociology of Disasters (RC-39) for the International Sociological Association’s 3rd World Forum in Vienna, Austria. She was honored to be presented with President’s Service Award in 2018 for her work with RC-39 in Toronto, Canada at the International Sociological Association’s World Congress. She is a member of the Society for Applied Anthropology’s Disaster and Risk TIG. She has been honored to serve as the President of the Western Social Science and on the Board of the Association of Applied and Clinical Sociology.
Companion, Michèle and Miriam S. Chaiken, eds. Forthcoming 2016. Responses to Disasters and Climate Change: Understanding Vulnerability and Fostering Resilience. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Companion, Michèle, ed. 2015. Disaster’s Impact on Livelihood and Cultural Survival: Losses, Opportunities, and Mitigation. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Cordoso, Ryzia de Cassia Vieira, Michèle Companion, and Stefano Marras, eds. 2014. Street Food: Culture, Economy, Health, and Governance. London and New York: Earthscan from Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
Now available in a paperback edition!