Having been raised on a cattle ranch in southwestern Oregon, Hannah's upbringing afforded her unique insight into the challenges and opportunities for rural communities, resource governance, and decision-making. Her background as a first-generation college student has enhanced her desire to identify, investigate, and address the issues facing communities like the one in which she grew up.
Today, Hannah is an ABD PhD Candidate in Rural Sociology and the dual-title program Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment at Penn State. Her dissertation examines the policy, governance, and engagement complexities of water management in the Klamath River Basin.
In 2019, she completed her M.S. in Rural Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State. Her thesis used a community-based participatory action method called photovoice to explore how socially constructed identities complicate barriers and opportunities for urban agriculturalists and connect to broader institutional inequities. Hannah created and coordinated The Female Farmer Photovoice Project, a program that invited participants to use photography and written narratives to represent and reflect on their experiences as women farmers, growers, food activists and agricultural educators in Pittsburgh, PA.
Before pursuing graduate study, Hannah was an Undergraduate Research Fellow at Oregon State, where she researched connections between climate change and community reactions to extreme weather events. Hannah holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Anthropology, Sociology, and Religious Studies.
Download Hannah Whitley’s Curriculum Vitae (CV) here